A former resident who was in Greenmount in the early 1950s described a beating he received from Br Allente. He was careful to state that he was not complaining about the use of corporal punishment as such. He explained: Well, the definition between punishment and brutality is this: in normal circumstances in a classroom two, three or six slaps on the hand ... When you have all the force of a grown man into punishing a child with severe strength that is brutality.
Br Allente, he said, picked on him because he was a slow learner, and used ‘the T-ruler’ on him several times: ... after a while one bit broke off, I think he was banging it across my back and then another time when he used the same ruler again the second part fell off. So he was left down to just a small bit and the T ... I do not remember him beating as cruel to other children in my classroom as he was with me.
Another witness described beatings he received from a number of Brothers whilst he was in Greenmount in the mid-1950s. He mentioned Br Allente as one of these Brothers: You never forget these beatings no matter how old you are, you never forget the beatings you get in them schools.
He described Br Allente as ‘a hard task master, but all right’, and said that Br Santiago23 was ‘a nice man’. He said it was better when Br Santiago took over because ‘there was more tolerance’.
Br Garcia furnished medical evidence that he was incapable of testifying before the Committee, but he did provide a statement dealing with these events: I learned of these allegations in circumstances when I was walking along the corridor in Greenmount Industrial School and Br Allente approached me and told me that I and another Brother were to go to the Bishop’s Palace to speak to Bishop Cornelius Lucey who was then the Bishop of Cork ... At this remove in time I have difficulty recalling the precise allegations as related to me by Bishop Lucey. In general terms the allegations were to the effect that children were being abused in the school and that I was being blamed. I immediately denied those allegations to the Bishop and I inquired as to who had made these allegations against me. Bishop Lucey would not provide these names. I also inquired as to what individual had made the complaint and I did not get that name either. I was then told to leave. Some time later I was invited again to the Bishop’s Palace and had a discussion again with the Bishop about alleged sexual abuse in which I was allegedly involved. I immediately denied any such involvement in this type of activity. I was invited back again on a third separate occasion and I inquired of the Bishop as to when all of this was going to end and I was told by the Bishop “that there was no smoke without fire”. I became extremely upset about the way in which this matter was being handled and took the view that if this was the way that matters were being dealt with that I would be better off out of the Presentation Brothers.
Another witness, who was there in the 1950s, recounted how he found out, when he was about 13, that his mother was alive. He had been admitted into Greenmount from another institution where he had been since a baby. He told the Committee how he made this discovery: I never knew [my] father, no, or my mother ... I didn’t know anything about her at all ... It came about because people in the School used to write home, if they had parents they were allowed to write home once a month their parents and if you didn’t write home you went to the back of the class. I think it [was] Br. Allente, I think that’s his name, names are hard to come by now. He said, "Don’t you write to anybody?" I said, "No, I don’t." About three months later as I went into the classroom, on a blackboard on an easel which [a woman’s name and address] and I was told write to that person. That’s your mother ... I did write to her under duress at that time. [She wrote back] and she told me I had two stepsisters ... I never had contact with her other than writing ... I have tried various times to contact her but the advice given by the local police and by the local parish priest was that it is best left alone after all those years. On one visit to Ireland, my son was eight at the time, I actually drove up from Cork ... and parked outside the assumed address and just parked and then drove away again. Because one didn’t want to go and knock on a door and say, "I’m your son", because the mother has feelings as well, she has had her life since I have not been there so I didn’t want to interrupt. It has impacted very much so, because when I went to England you don’t have anybody to relate to, so you are always worrying – I don’t know, it is hard to explain but if your parents are missing, if you don’t know where they are – or who your parents are your peace of mind is even to go there at the end – if I come over this year or next year to Ireland, even if she has passed away, it would be to see the grave and say that’s laid to rest now and there is no further gain to be got. But it has impacted. It impacts throughout your whole life because when you have your own family you have no role models, you have nothing to bring up your family.