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Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


Because he had admitted his guilt, the Br Consultor did not feel that it was necessary to investigate the matter further, which saved him the ‘disagreeable duty’ of seeing those who had made the charges, and saved Br Herve and the School ’from talk that would arise if an investigation were to be made by me’. He recommended Br Herve’s immediate removal because: His actions are a constant source of talk and criticism among the boys and their parents. It may be taken for granted that he is much talked of [in the area] and being one who is loose in morals, and one who should not have charge of boys.


The Provincial took immediate action and ordered that Br Herve be transferred. He wrote to Br Herve notifying him and also referring to the impact of his abusive activities on the Congregation and on the boys who were abused: By indulging in such improprieties you have scandalised your pupils, given rise to a good deal of unsavoury gossip among them and their parents, done grave injury to the reputation of the College, brought discredit on yourself, and, I greatly fear lowered the Brothers in the estimation of a big section of the public. May God grant that the consequences are not worse. Every Christian Brother is bound by his Rule as well as by the laws of charity and justice to do all in his power to safeguard the virtue of his pupils and to assist them as far as he can to preserve their innocence if they have not already lost it. You[r] conduct was well calculated to rob them of this precious treasure of innocence. What greater wrong could you do them? You cannot reasonably make the plea that you did not realise the gravity of your offence.


The Provincial gave Br Herve a Canonical Warning pursuant to Constitution 218 and a ‘serious warning that a repetition of any of the faults with which you are now charged will render you liable to expulsion from the Congregation’. He told Br Herve to make a determined effort to combat his ‘immoderate tendency to softness in dealing with your pupils and to think seriously over the grave spiritual harm your actions inflict on both them and yourself’. He also stated that, ‘May God grant that the consequences are not worse’. He transferred Br Herve as soon as possible pursuant to the rules of the Congregation.


On the same day that he wrote to Br Herve, the Provincial also wrote to the Superior of the School sympathising in ‘the amount of worry and humiliation that has been inflicted on you by the deplorable conduct’ of Br Herve. He stated that: The unfortunate man is really more to be pitied than to be censured, but to make him realise the gravity of his offence I am giving him the canonical warning provided for in the Constitution, and in doing so I think I am adopting the most charitable course that can be pursued in a case of this kind.


The Superior replied, thanking the Provincial for his comments and agreeing that Br Herve was more to be pitied than to be censured and concluding ‘He just has no control over his hands ...’.


The Superior reinstated the expelled boy in the School. His mother had threatened to inform the Bishop and to ‘bring this case further and further’. As he told the Provincial, the Superior had to ‘capitulate with the best grace I could’.


The crisis was resolved with the boy’s return to the School and Br Herve’s transfer. The Superior was more than a little relieved: For the past four years I always feared that when the inevitable would come in his case that it would be much more serious.


Similarly, the Superior noted that the complaining parent was not sure whether Br Herve had ‘meddled with the boys in their privy parts’ but thought not. He then commented. ‘Knowing Br Herve as we do I thank God he did not do worse’.


During the Phase III hearing into Artane, Br Reynolds, referring to the nature of Br Herve’s meddling, commented as follows: But I mean, what the Provincial believed or didn’t believe I am not sure is of any consequence. What I was saying in the submission is that the lady thought it didn’t happen, the Dean thought it did. And, obviously, that’s the view that I am taking, that if the Dean thought it did well then it did happen.


It was put to Br Reynolds that this comment showed clearly that the Congregation was aware of the recidivistic nature of abuse as far back as 1938. Br Reynolds did not agree: I would come back to say that this letter, in my view, does not point out that the recidivistic nature of child abuse was known to whoever wrote it. What he is saying is that this individual person, certainly he believed, abused but he wasn’t in a position to take any action on it until he had sufficient proof.


This observation is scarcely correct, as the correspondence shows that the Superior had brought Br Herve into his office in September 1937 ‘and abused him and rated him roundly for his kissing of the boys and his fondling of them. On that occasion he promised to give it up for good’. However, Br Reynolds persisted in his view that they had no evidence prior to 1938.


Br Reynolds was also reluctant to accept that the reference to ‘May God grant that the consequences are not worse’ referred to the involvement of the Gardaí or other authorities: That’s your interpretation is all I am saying ... Off the top of my head that would not have been my interpretation of that. But I am not saying that you are not correct in that.


The Superior did not incur criticism although, in his correspondence to the Provincial, he admitted that he was aware of Br Herve’s activities for years but did not even report to his own authorities until events forced his hand. Instead, the Provincial sympathised with him.


The letter from the Provincial to Br Herve shows awareness of some of the damage that sexual abuse could inflict on a child.


In conclusion: The School was driven to take action only when there was a threat to expose the behaviour of Br Herve. The Provincial expressed sympathy for, rather than criticism of, the Superior. The offending Brother was considered to be an unfortunate man who was ‘more to be pitied than censured’. There was relief that worse did not happen, having regard to the known habits of Br Herve. The Congregation was aware of the harm Br Herve was inflicting on children in his care, but did nothing to alleviate it or to ascertain the full extent of the damage. Sending a Brother with this history to a residential school for boys was reckless and dangerous, and showed a disregard for the safety of children in care.

  1. Report on Artane Industrial School for the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse by Ciaran Fahy, Consulting Engineer (see Appendix 1).
  2. Rules and Regulations of Industrial Schools 1885.
  3. Commission of Inquiry into the Reformatory and Industrial School System 1934-1936 chaired by Justice Cussen.
  4. Dr McQuaid and Fr Henry Moore.
  5. This is a pseudonym.
  6. This is a pseudonym. See also the Tralee chapter.
  7. This is a pseudonym.
  8. This is a pseudonym.
  9. Br Beaufort had previously also worked in Carriglea in the early 1930s.
  10. This is a pseudonym.
  11. This is a pseudonym.
  12. This is a pseudonym.
  13. This is a pseudonym.
  14. This is a pseudonym.
  15. This is a pseudonym. See also the Carriglea chapter.
  16. This is a pseudonym.
  17. This is a pseudonym.
  18. This is a pseudonym.
  19. This is a pseudonym.
  20. This is a pseudonym.
  21. This is a pseudonym.
  22. This is a pseudonym.
  23. From the infirmary register it appears that while the boy was not confined in hospital he was due for a check up the day his mother called to see the superior so he may well not have been in the Institution when his mother called.
  24. Dr Anna McCabe was the Department of Education Inspector for most of the relevant period.
  25. It was in fact the Minister for Education who used those words. See paragraph 7.117 .
  26. This is a pseudonym.
  27. This is a pseudonym.
  28. This is a pseudonym.
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  30. This is a pseudonym.
  31. This is a pseudonym.
  32. This is a pseudonym.
  33. This is a pseudonym.
  34. This is a pseudonym.
  35. This is a pseudonym.
  36. The same incident is referred to in the Department’s inspection into the matter as ‘a shaking’.
  37. This is a pseudonym.
  38. This is a pseudonym.
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  40. This is a pseudonym.
  41. This is a pseudonym.
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  44. This is a pseudonym.
  45. This is a pseudonym.
  46. This is a pseudonym.
  47. This is a pseudonym.
  48. This is a pseudonym.
  49. Dr Anna McCabe (Medical Inspector), Mr Seamus Mac Uaid (Higher Executive Officer) and Mr MacDáibhid (Assistant Principal Officer and Inspector in Charge of Industrial Schools).
  50. This is a pseudonym.
  51. This is a pseudonym.
  52. This is a pseudonym.
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  54. This is a pseudonym.
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  76. This is a pseudonym.
  77. This is a pseudonym.
  78. This is a pseudonym.
  79. See General Chapter on the Christian Brothers at para ???.
  80. He went there after many years in Artane.
  81. Dr Charles Lysaght was commissioned by the Department of Education to conduct general and medical inspections of the industrial and reformatory schools in 1966 in the absence of a replacement for Dr McCabe since her retirement the previous year. He inspected Artane on 8th September 1966.
  82. See Department of Education and Science Chapter, One-off Inspections.
  83. The fact that they were tired is noted in many Visitation Reports.
  84. Council for Education, Recruitment and Training.
  85. This is a pseudonym.
  86. This is a pseudonym.
  87. This is a pseudonym.