- Volume 1
- Volume 2
- Social and demographic profile of witnesses
- Circumstances of admission
- Family contact
- Everyday life experiences (male witnesses)
- Record of abuse (male witnesses)
- Everyday life experiences (female witnesses)
- Record of abuse (female witnesses)
- Positive memories and experiences
- Current circumstances
- Introduction to Part 2
- Special needs schools and residential services
- Children’s Homes
- Foster care
- Primary and second-level schools
- Residential Laundries, Novitiates, Hostels and other settings
- Concluding comments
- Volume 4
Chapter 6 — Christian BrothersBack
In the Phase III public hearing for Tralee, Br Nolan was asked to explain what the Visitation Dues were: The Brothers in the Community maintained their House through taking a stipend and taking a salary from the money available. So also would the Provincial Council, they had no means of support other than putting a stipend on each House. It is a few hundred pounds. It changed with time of course. It was a levy on each Brother to contribute to the Provincial Council.
The accounts for Artane show that the greatest expense in the House accounts over the period 1940 to 1969 was annual Visitation Dues. In that period the non-capital expenditure of the House was £236,000, and approximately one-third of this, £82,575, was sent to the Provincial towards the support of the Congregation by way of Visitation Dues.
In all of the correspondence between the Department of Education and the Orders on the question of finance, the financial needs of the Community or the Congregation were never discussed. The Department of Education’s understanding of its role as set out above was to pay capitation grants in respect of youthful offenders and children committed to their schools under the provisions of the Children Acts, 1908 and 1941, and the School Attendance Act, 1926.
The stipends paid to all Brothers, out of which Visitation Dues and payments to the Building Fund account were made, represented a drain on resources available for the maintenance of the children.
Supervision of Communities was the responsibility of the Provincial Council for the region and was exercised by way of annual Visitations by a member of the Council. The Visitor stayed with the Community for a number of days, following which he sent a written report to the Provincial Council, which was copied to the Superior General. The Provincial or another member of the Council sent a follow-up letter to the Superior of the Community referring to salient points in the report, but the report itself was not given to the Superior.
Visitations were a requirement of Canon Law, and their primary objective was to ensure that the Brothers were acting in the spirit of their vocation and observing the rules of the Congregation. In addition, the Visitor was required to inquire into the condition of discipline in the Community, its finances, and its premises. Although his function was primarily to inspect, the Visitor was also required to take immediate action if, during the course of his inspection, he encountered ‘anything of a serious nature ... opposed to the religious spirit’ in the Community.
Visitations proceeded according to a formal pattern laid down in the Constitutions of the Order. The Visitor had a preliminary meeting with the Superior and then he had individual meetings with the Brothers. These conversations were confidential, and the Superior was expressly prohibited from attempting to influence what Brothers said in their conversations with the Visitor. The Visitor then met the Superior for a second time to discuss his administration of the Community. The Visitor did not routinely speak to the boys, and only met individual boys on exceptional occasions.
Visitation Reports for Communities attached to industrial schools followed the same general pattern, dealing with topics of Community observance and usually including comment on some or all of the following topics: health and diet, schools, premises, trades, aftercare, statistics, recreation, and finances.
The rules of the Congregation required that, if ‘serious irregularities’ reported at the time of the Visitation had not been remedied within a period of two months, the Brothers who reported them were to write to the Provincial or the Superior General directly and inform him of their continuance.
The Visitations were thorough, and the reports provided a good deal of detail about the operation of the various Communities. Although their purpose was primarily religious and concerned with the Community, the reports usually contained information about the industrial school and the children. Some Brothers were candid in reporting problems to the Visitor, as is demonstrated in the individual chapters on institutions. The system also enabled a Brother to circumvent his Superior by making a complaint to the Visitor if he felt that the former would not believe him. A number of cases of sexual abuse became known in this fashion.
Visitors often made frank observations and they could be severely critical in their reports, although the summaries that the Provincials sent to the Managers were usually much more discreet in their comments.
Visitation Reports are the single most valuable source of documentary evidence about life in the Brothers’ industrial schools. They were written during inspections or shortly afterwards. The writers were senior members of the Congregation. Reports were intended for internal use by the Council of which the Visitor was a member. Where they contain criticisms of Brothers or institutions, the reports can therefore be considered reliable.
The Visitation Reports often contain information and comment that are much more critical and disapproving than the Department of Education Inspector’s reports, which were also supposed to be conducted annually and were focused on the health of the boys and the conditions within the school.
The system had its limitations. In Communities where there were no personnel problems, the staff tended to close ranks. Visitors were more likely to get a realistic picture of an institution when there were problems in the Community, such as when relations were strained among the Brothers. Some Brothers testified that they were reluctant to complain to the Visitor for a number of reasons, including lack of familiarity with the Visitation system or feeling too junior to report. Others feared they might jeopardise their careers by complaining or that the complaint would get back to their Superior who would react badly to it. Furthermore, there were no objective standards applied to these reports and so different Visitors inspecting within months of each other could come to quite different conclusions as to the adequacy of the management.
The major deficiency of the Visitation system was that, while it was able to identify problems in an institution, it did not provide solutions or ensure that changes were put in place. In some cases, the Visitation Report was highly critical of a particular Resident Manager or member of staff, but the Council did nothing to remedy the situation, and the Provincial in his follow-up letter did not even mention the problem. A member of the current Provincial Leadership Team was asked to explain this failure to act on Visitors’ complaints, and he attributed it to the fact that the Visitation was a personal inspection, the report was a discussion document, and the Provincial Council might not necessarily agree with all of its conclusions.
- The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, commonly known as the Pope.
- B. Coldrey, Faith and Fatherland. The Christian Brothers and the Development of Nationalism, 1838–1921 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1988), p 22.
- There are currently 122 schools in the Christian Brother network in Ireland, according to the Marino Institute of Education website.
- Constitutions (1923).
- The general assembly of representatives from the Congregation of the Christian Brothers.
- Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System Report, 1936 (the Cussen Report) (Dublin: Stationery Office).
- A Visitor was a Congregational Inspector who reported back to the leadership of the Congregation. See Supervision/Visitations below.
- An association where the main object is the well-being and improvement of a different group of persons, such as men, women and children, or more specially, priests, youths, church helpers, prisoners, immigrants, nurses, married people, couples, etc.
- Cn 653.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife.
- Congregation of the Christian Brothers 1962, Chapter VIII ‘Chastity’, p 23 section 81.
- Const 8 of the 1923 Constitutions.
- Const 97 of the 1923 Constitutions.
- Congregation of the Christian Brothers 1962, Chapter XIII ‘Mortifications & Humilitations’, p 30 section 128.
- The Cussen Report 1936 – Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System, para 74.
- This is a pseudonym.
- There were three programmes broadcast by RTE in 1999 in the ‘States of Fear’ series: ‘Industrial Schools and Reformatories from the 1940s-1980s’, ‘The Legacy of Industrial Schools’, and ‘Sick and Disabled Children in Institutions’.
- Suffer the Little Children, by Mary Raftery and Eoin O’Sullivan, 1999, New Island.
- O’Brien Institute.
- This is a pseudonym.
- P394 Circular Letters 1821–1930
- Department of Education Annual Report 1925/1926.
- Report of the Department of Education for the School Years 1925–26–27 and the Financial and Administrative Year 1926–1927, p 83.
- Report of the Department of Education for the School Year 1924–1925 and the Financial and Administrative Years 1924–25–26, p 84.
- Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann Approved by the Minister of Education under the 54th Section of the Act, 8 Edw VII., Ch 67, clauses 12 and 13 (see DES chapter).
- Rules and Regulations for the Certified Industrial Schools in Saorstát Éireann Approved by the Minister of Education under the Children Act, 1908.
- The Department submit this wording ‘education provision’ in other words the internal national school.
- Section 24 of The Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 provided:
- the rule of law under which teachers are immune from criminal liability in respect of physical chastisement of pupils is hereby abolished.
- With the removal of this immunity, teachers are now subject to section 2(1) of the 1997 Act which provides that:
- a person shall be guilty of the offence of assault, who without lawful excuse, intentionally or recklessly, directly or indirectly applies force to and causes an impact on the body of another.Teachers who physically chastise pupils may now be guilty of an offence and liable to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of £1,500.
- This is a pseudonym.