Explore the Ryan Report

Chapter 7 — Artane

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Sexual abuse


Another Brother who was there throughout the 1950s said that he remembered the term ‘badness’ as referring to peer abuse and that all staff would have been aware of the term. Despite this, he said that he never encountered any incident of badness nor had to punish a boy for it. However, he was contradicted by a colleague who remembered having to punish a boy who had been referred to him by this Brother who insisted that punishment was necessary: I was in charge and he reported to me that [the boy] was interfering with other boys and he kind of said to me you will have to do something about it. As I understood it then that when some boys were interfering with other boys, they would be punished and one of the punishments they would get would be on the backside with the leather. I wasn’t too keen on doing it, I had a certain reluctance about it. I didn’t do anything for a while. Then Br Gaspard came back to me again and told me that this was going on and that I had to do something about it. I just brought him to the boot room. My memory now, I am working from memory now and it is a long time ago, my memory is that he had his nightshirt on him, he bent down, I gave him three or four smacks of the leather on the – not on the bare backside and he ran out the door and I was glad to see him go.


Despite having to mete out this punishment, his recollection was that sexual activity between boys ‘wasn’t a major crime’, although Brothers were told to be vigilant.


A Brother who was in Artane in the 1950s stated: We were always being alerted to be on the look out, to be a presence in places where the boys would be, and I think we did that to the best of our ability. But we would be aware that things happened and there were normal healthy young fellas at that time so we tried to be as protective as we could be in that area by being a presence around the place. We would have been alerted to be on the lookout, to be there, to be careful and to make sure that people are not injured in a situation like that, or that damage is done to them. So, that we would be there as a protection. It would have been—we would be, I suppose, on the alert and keep moving around and wherever.


He said, however, that although the Brothers were aware of it, they would rarely talk about it. He denied that he would have discussed the matter with the boys in order to find out who was abusing whom, on the grounds that it was ‘none of my business’. He stated that if he became aware of an incident ‘I would have to hand that over to somebody at a higher authority level ... I would probably go to the Disciplinarian’.


1.Sexual abuse by Brothers was a chronic problem in Artane. Brothers who served in Artane included firstly those who had previously been guilty of sexual abuse of boys, secondly those whose abuse was discovered while they worked in Artane and, thirdly some who were subsequently revealed to have abused boys. A timeline of the documented and admitted cases of sexual abuse shows that: (a)For more than half of the 33 years under consideration, there was at least one such abuser working there; (b)For more than one third of the years there were at least two abusers present; (c)During one year in the 1940s there were seven such Brothers in Artane at the same time. 2.More abuse occurred than is recorded in documents because of inadequate recording and reporting procedures. In particular: (a)There was little or no communication on an informal, friendly basis between boys and Brothers including the Superior. (b)The sodality was a means of informal communication between boys and the Resident Manager that uncovered four sexual abusers in Artane in 1944, but it was discontinued. (c)Because boys could be punished for complaining about abuse, there was inevitably under-reporting. (d)In the 1960s, the Resident Manager gave instructions that complaints were to be made directly to him and not to the chaplain, thereby cutting off a channel of information. (e)One offender, Br Dennis, admitted sexually abusing many boys in Artane, but only one of his victims gave evidence at the Phase II oral hearings. (f)In other cases of documented abuse, there were no complaints to the Committee. 3.Other causes of under-reporting also operated, including the fact that sexual abuse is difficult for victims to corroborate or verify, the fear of being disbelieved, lack of faith in the investigation process, and feelings of shame and embarrassment. 4.Sexual activity between boys was common, and there was a significant amount of predatory sexual behaviour by bigger boys on smaller, vulnerable ones, but complainants and respondents were guarded in dealing with it. 5.Evidence and inferences in this and other boys’ institutions suggested that some Brothers sought victims among boys they believed were engaged in sexual activity with other boys. Response 6.Cases and allegations of sexual abuse were not properly investigated; information was not shared in the Congregation; cases were not reported to the Department; and the Gardaí were not informed. 7.The Congregation was aware of the criminal nature of sexual abuse perpetrated by Brothers. 8.The Congregation was also aware of the risk of recidivism in such cases. 9.Sexual abuse by Brothers posed a serious risk of damaging the reputations of the Institution and the Congregation if it became public, and cases were managed primarily with a view to protecting them against that danger. The offender was an incidental beneficiary of this policy. 10.The most common reaction was to move the offending Brother to another Christian Brothers’ institution, without regard to the hazard to boys in the new location and with no evidence that the Superior was alerted. Some Brothers were moved to industrial schools after abusing in day schools. 11.The Christian Brothers have submitted that repeat offenders were dismissed from the Congregation, but this does not appear to have occurred. Even when the Council voted for expulsion, this was often done by inviting the Brother to seek dispensation from his vows, which allowed him to leave the Congregation with no taint or suspicion on his character. The Brother could continue teaching in a lay capacity. 12.Only Brothers of temporary profession were dismissed by being refused permanent status by the Congregation, but these Brothers were also able to move on with their reputations intact. 13.Some Brothers and former Brothers found to have committed sexual abuse were able to continue damaging children for many years because of the policy of concealment of the disclosure of abuse, failure to investigate properly and failure to report. 14.The Congregation claimed in its Opening Statement that the impact of abuse on young boys was not properly understood at the time and that the response to the child was therefore inadequate. The reality is that the needs of abused children were not considered at all. It was not a case of insufficient understanding, but rather of giving priority to other concerns. For a Community of religious in loco parentis, this was a fundamental breach of their duty of care.

Emotional abuse and neglect


Although some Congregations conceded that institutional detention was not an appropriate way to care for children,79 the Submission of the Christian Brothers defended the kind of care they had given. They wrote: It is clear that the level of poverty in Ireland during the period under review was such that the basic physical needs of many people required for day to day living went unfulfilled ... In this context it cannot be surprising that there was a strong focus in Artane on the physical care of the boys ... The “philosophy of care” underlying the operation of Artane ... can be broadly described as a philosophy of physical care concentrating on the physical well-being of the boys.


The Congregation accepted that a focus on physical care alone was not sufficient to fully and properly care for a child, but contended that it was important to note the general economic and legal context in which the Congregation’s care of the boys was provided. A senior Brother described this approach in his evidence as follows: the philosophy of Artane when I was there was a physical care philosophy. Look after the health of the boys, look after their physical education, like by drill and so on ... it was a physical education philosophy. There was no understanding, and I had no understanding at the time, about any kind of emotional education, psychological education. I had no understanding of that at the time.


The Christian Brothers concluded this section of their Submission by asserting that the totality of the evidence suggests that, especially when viewed in the context of the times, the Congregation fully and properly provided for the physical needs of the boys.


They went on to concede that at times there were shortcomings, such as the condition of the classrooms and toilets that were criticised in the Visitation Reports, but added, ‘these shortcomings were addressed after the criticism’.

Emotional abuse


Extracts from the 1926 Annual Report of the Department of Education, and the Cussen Report in 1936, highlight that there was an awareness of the emotional needs of the child. They warned that a regime based on ‘a hard and fast uniformity’, in which the child loses his sense of individuality through just being one among hundreds of other children, caused permanent damage to the child. The Congregation, on the other hand, claimed that it was not until the early 1960s that the emotional needs of children began to feature in the thinking behind childcare.


The Congregation also contended that the emotional needs of children were not a consideration at the time, either by the Congregation or by the Department of Education. In support of this contention, the Congregation stated that, when the Department carried out a full and thorough inspection in December 1962, it ‘focussed almost entirely on the physical conditions in which the boys lived and on their education’.


Some individual Brothers who gave evidence to the Investigation Committee displayed a greater awareness of the boys’ emotional needs than the Congregation. The Brother who was quoted by the Congregation in their Submission, and who had served a number of years in Artane and had held a senior position in the Institution, told the Investigation Committee: As a result of what I experienced in Letterfrack80 I came to the conclusion that a lot of these children were disturbed and a lot of these children hadn’t had their basic needs for love, affection ... fulfilled ... As regards the Industrial School Branch [of the Department of Education], it is my opinion that when Artane closed in 1969 we were still working out of a physical care philosophy. All the improvements that were done in Artane; central heating was brought in; we got new classrooms; we got new improvements to the cinema; we had the Godparent associations and so on; all these improvements, while they were very welcome ... they were still coming out of that physical care philosophy. I went into Artane as a teacher and I think I can honestly say I left it as a teacher.


It was only later, after Artane closed, that he supplemented his training as a teacher by attending, under his own initiative, a childcare course. At one point in his testimony he said: as I looked back over the years at my time in Artane I became aware that there were times when I punished boys ... and might have done better ... I looked back at Artane and saw what the system was like ... the more knowledge I acquired the more critical I became I suppose of how I saw Artane and what I did.


Some of the other Brothers showed a similar awareness of the emotional needs of the children in their care, and lamented that the system did not address them. One Brother, who was in Artane from the late 1940s to the early 1950s, told the Investigation Committee: I would say I was lacking in appreciation of ... the circumstances in which these chaps found themselves, away from home and that kind of thing ... I wouldn’t know who was legitimate or illegitimate or anything of that nature and I tried to treat everyone the same and of course you cannot do that. In that sense I would regret that.


Another Brother, who was in Artane in the 1960s, told the Investigation Committee of an occasion when the degree of deprivation of some of his pupils was brought home to him in a disquieting way. He recounted the following incident: ... I remember teaching a lesson, it was English reading and it was about a family, and I discovered a boy in the class who didn’t understand what the word “mother” meant. “Brother” or “sister”, it meant nothing to him. I was taken aback by that.

  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.
  29. This is a pseudonym.
  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.
  39. This is a pseudonym.
  40. This is a pseudonym.
  41. This is a pseudonym.
  42. This is a pseudonym.
  43. This is a pseudonym.
  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.
  53. This is a pseudonym.
  54. This is a pseudonym.
  55. This is a pseudonym.
  56. This is a pseudonym.
  57. This is a pseudonym.
  58. This is a pseudonym.
  59. This is a pseudonym.
  60. This is a pseudonym.
  61. This is a pseudonym.
  62. This is a pseudonym.
  63. This is a pseudonym.
  64. This is a pseudonym.
  65. This is a pseudonym.
  66. This is a pseudonym.
  67. This is a pseudonym.
  68. This is a pseudonym.
  69. This is a pseudonym.
  70. This is a pseudonym.
  71. This is a pseudonym.
  72. This is a pseudonym.
  73. This is a pseudonym.
  74. This is a pseudonym.
  75. This is a pseudonym.
  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.