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Chapter 1 — Department of Education

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Part 9 Missing files


Early discharge papers relate to applications made by parents to the Department to have their children released from institutional care. Some of the discharge papers are missing and in other cases the record in relation to the individual is incomplete and some of these applications may have been placed on the individual child’s pupil file. The Department has a register of applications for early discharge dated 1951-60 only. Matthias Kelly stated within his report the importance of these records for former Industrial School pupils, emphasising the need for these people to know that their parents tried to ensure their release from the schools. Mr Kelly concluded that the papers were lost as a result of the ‘general clear out’.


The report of Matthias Kelly concluded that the 10 working papers of the Kennedy Commission were missing. Subsequently, in May 2004, seven of the working papers were given to CICA, and an eighth was handed over in 2007. Mr Kelly in his report stated ‘In my view those working papers are or may be relevant to the work of the Commission.’ However his report concluded that the Department had done all within its capabilities to locate the two papers. (


In his evidence before the Commission Mr Liam Kilroy, when asked about the process of storing files, suggested it was a practice within the Department to store documents in a separate filing cabinet if the official was personally involved or the file was deemed unsuitable for general filing. He explained: ‘If it was an issue with which I was personally involved ..., then I would retain the papers in my room, in my office.’


Furthermore in his evidence before CICA on 4th March 2003 Mr Paddy Matthews referred to the use of a safe to hold sensitive and confidential files. Mr Matthews claimed that Mr Luttrel, Head of Document Registry Unit, kept confidential files in a little safe in the document registry in Tyrone House. When asked what type of documents were kept in this safe, Mr Matthews replied: ‘I am only going on what I heard now, but that any offences with a suggestion of a sexual offence in them were kept there.’ Although the Kelly Report stated that all reasonable steps had been taken regarding the issue of safe storage, Mr Matthews later went on to state that he too had a safe in his office, which contained documents of a ‘sexual nature’. He said he had no log of the documents contained therein. In further evidence before CICA, Mr Matthews claimed that he had only ever heard of one complaint of a sexual nature (relating to Clonmel) He added: ’I cannot remember any other complaint now, to tell you the truth. I think if there was, I would have heard it.’


The report prepared by Mathias Kelly QC was critical of the way the Department had kept sensitive papers on the Clonmel sexual abuse allegations in a temporary folder.


The file known as TN030, short for Temporary Number 030, was kept in Liam Kilroy’s private office. Liam Kilroy went on to affirm knowledge of two other files in his office relating to abuse – Lisnagary in Limerick, Daughters of Charity (Q 20) and Finglas Children’s Centre.


Mr Kelly concluded, however, that the case of TN030 was an isolated one and that in any large organisation there will be the occasional instance of documents being wrongly filed and individual idiosyncratic filing. He concluded, ‘I cannot, therefore, attach any weight to the suggestion that “sensitive” documents were stored separately.’


Incident books, sometimes called ‘log books’, were kept by the various schools to record significant incidents or events within the schools or institutions. Matthias Kelly concluded: The Secretary General has assured me that the Department does not generally hold incident books at all. The point is made, that if such books do exist, and I would expect that such books do exist, they will be held by the various institutions themselves.


The precedent book was a record of decisions made relating to the certified schools system, catalogued in one place to allow for administrative ease. Mr Matthews, a former Assistant Secretary within the Department of Education, made reference to the existence of such a book in his evidence before the Commission. He stated that: the precedent book should still be there. No, there is no reason why it shouldn’t, because all the sections in the place, it was an essential feature of Government business, to know what the precedents were, just the same as in law.


However Mr Kelly concluded: ‘In my view there is no hard or reliable evidence that the book, as described, ever existed.’


This category refers to the general gaps in information regarding the Department of Education’s running of the Industrial Schools system. These files include certification files, general and medical inspection reports, internal Departmental memos, letters and general correspondence.

Sex abuse files


The Department of Education Statement to CICA in May 2006 stated: There are few cases of reported sexual abuse in the industrial and reformatory schools recorded in Departmental files (7 in all). We have no record of sexual of abuse issues surfacing during the course of normal inspections.


The seven abuse files are: Upton 1945 Kilkenny 1954 Ennis 1956 Daingean 1959 Artane 1960 Mr Brander TN030.


Ms Bridgid McManus, Secretary General of the Department of Education, gave evidence before CICA on 13th June 2006. In light of the absence of Departmental records relating to incidents of sexual abuse in the Industrial Schools and Reformatories over which the Department of Education presided, Ms McManus was asked if any efforts were made to ascertain from old employees, retired employees or even existing employees of the Department who worked in the relevant section, whether incidents of abuse may have been passed on to the Department, but were not reflected in the files. All senior administrative staff in the Department, at principal officer level and upward, and all existing and former Department inspectors were contacted. Following this line of questioning CICA was furnished with the responses received by the Department from former officials within the section; these responses did not give any information regarding undocumented cases of sexual abuse.


Subsequently other former staff members who had previously worked in the RISB or Special Education Section were contacted regarding specifically: the historic management and storage of files relating to the Industrial and Reformatory School system; their knowledge of any destruction or purging of such files; any information they may hold with regard to missing files or gaps in the Department’s records; departmental files relating to the Kennedy Committee; the use of a safe to hold sensitive and confidential files.