The number of admissions to Upton was a cause for concern to Fr Giuseppe,2 the Provincial, in early 1939. In correspondence in February 1939 he mentioned that the falling numbers were causing him some anxiety and that he had got a local TD ‘on the job now to bring pressure to bear on the Minister to send extra transfers to Upton until our numbers have reached an economic number’. A month later, in March 1939, he again wrote to say that he had spoken to the then Minister for Education, Thomas Derrig, about the matter. However, according to him there was little prospect of increasing numbers, as the Department was governed by a recommendation of the Cussen Commission that children should be sent to the school that was nearest to their place of origin, and Mr Derrig was disinclined to ‘override the regulations of his Dept’. He wrote that, when he saw the Minister, he showed him a copy of their accounts and emphasised that they were neither able nor prepared to continue to fund the School from their own finances. In a letter sent later in the same year, he again mentioned that he was in talks with the Department about the great inadequacy of the grants and the injustice to the religious orders in expecting them to meet the costs out of their own funds or by heavy borrowing, when funding should be done by the State.
By November 1939, it appears that Fr Giuseppe had enlisted the help and support of Mr Eamon DeValera, the then Taoiseach and acting Minister for Education: Dev. is taking up the matter of our school. I am informed that he has been convinced that we have been unfairly discriminated against in the way of transfers and committals and we are told to expect results soon.
In 1941, Fr Giuseppe was happy to note that the numbers had increased from 110 at the beginning of the year to 144.
The information that is available about his departure from Upton is limited. The Superior General, Fr Montes,24 wrote to the Irish Provincial, Fr Giuseppe, stating: Fr Carlo told me, sincerely, I think the whole story. He tearfully acknowledged his mistake. I sent him to Diano Marina on the sea between Genoa and Nice ... He accepts his present situation as a penance but I am convinced that we will have to find a place for him by September. Could he not go to America? ... I can understand that you were relieved at his departure. One could have had certain fears for the Upton house, also because, in the past the Government had some unfavourable reports regarding morality between the boys, as you will recall.
The importance of the court cases was clear to the Upton authorities and beyond. Writing to Fr Orsino in Rome on 20th October 1936 about his brother, Fr Giuseppe, the Resident Manager, Fr Gerodi,53 described how the Manager was detained on urgent business: Fr Giuseppe was unable to be away from Upton, owing to a matter which had troubled him much for several weeks and during last week he had to be on call on the telephone ... Some ex-Upton boys got into very serious trouble, and there was very great danger that the reputation of the School would suffer.
He went on in the letter to defend the actions of the school staff in preventing such abuses taking place, stating that he had 18 years’ experience in the School and knew how to protect the boys’ morality, in addition to making frequent visits to the farm and the whole school ‘at all sorts of odd and unusual times’ and having ‘always dealt severely with anything like indecent conduct and have taken a particular interest in the boys concerned making sure they become God fearing boys’. The Resident Manager ended his six-page letter with a challenging declaration: If the minister is worried about the welfare of these children and is ready to accept the evidence at its face value notwithstanding Fr Giuseppe’s statement to the contrary I am authorised to state that he (Fr Giuseppe) is willing to hand up the certificate in the interests and for the safety of the religious staff dealing with the school.
The Provincial, Fr Giuseppe, also wrote to the Department on the same day, expressing his outrage and annoyance, but went further and expressed his desire to resign the certificate of the School and prevailed upon the Inspector ‘to make provision as soon as possible for the committed children at present in the care of the Fathers of Charity in this school’.
The Assistant Secretary stated in an internal memorandum in 1945 to the Secretary that the letter ‘is reasonable enough on the whole’ and that he did not expect that the Resident Manager would actually resign the certificate. The course taken by the Department was simply to do nothing more about the matter and to let it all blow over. When the Medical Inspector, Dr Anna McCabe,54 carried out a routine General Inspection of the School on 19th March 1945, she had a long discussion with Fr Giuseppe about the situation and particularly his threat to resign the certificate. She considered that the threat was ‘a bit of a bluff’. The Manager informed her that he could always turn the School into a secondary boarding school. By April 1945, a reply to the Manager’s letter had not been issued from the Department, and they felt it was unnecessary to do so and that it was safe to ‘assume that the Provincial will not pursue his threat to resign the Cert. of the School?’.
Surprisingly, Fr Giuseppe48 disagreed with the conclusions of Dr McCabe’s report, the National School Inspector had never expressed any discontent and had found the Principal teacher to be ‘highly efficient’. He contested her view that the children were underweight and asked her to submit proposals as to what should be done in the top dormitory and sanitary annex. ‘In these days of high prices’, he wrote, ‘constructural alterations are not undertaken except with great caution and after proved urgency. Cost may be regarded as about three times what they were before the war’.
The Rosminians’ submission was prepared by the Provincial, the Very Reverend Giuseppe, who was Manager of St Patrick’s (Danesfort) Industrial School, Upton. It was a lengthy document, describing the industrial and reformatory school system operating in Ireland in the early 1930s, and it outlined many of the problems and issues facing those working in this field. It is an interesting document because its criticisms, detailed below, and recommendations closely resemble the conclusions reached by the Cussen Report.
Fr Giuseppe contended that the Children Act, 1908 was not a suitable Act because it implied that the children placed into this care system were either criminals or criminally inclined. They were in fact, he pointed out, committed because of ‘poverty, the loss of one or both parents, or the negligence of some parents’, but the actual procedure of committing a child to the industrial school system through the courts nonetheless placed a ‘criminal taint to the whole system’. This association of the child with the courts ‘created in the public mind a misconception that is exceedingly difficult to remove’. It also created a feeling of inferiority in the child, which lowered his self-confidence. The result meant that, despite all attempts made to help and encourage the boy forward, he was already affected by what had occurred to him even before he arrived in the industrial school. The children were brought to the schools by guards in uniform, and in some places in the prison van. In some cases, the children were kept waiting in the public court until they were called into the private court or justice’s room.
The Cussen Committee agreed completely with Fr Giuseppe on these particular points. The Cussen Report recommended the following: That the practice of hearing children’s cases in the ordinary Courts is objectionable. The arrangement, which obtains in Dublin – a Children’s Court housed separately from the District Courts – should be adopted wherever possible throughout the country. The term “Committal Order” should be abolished and “Admission Order” substituted. The Justices when hearing children’s cases should not wear the robes of Office. Gardai, should not wear uniform when in attendance at Children’s Courts and when bringing children to the schools.
On the subject of aftercare, Fr Giuseppe argued ‘that the aftercare of children, particularly in the commencement of their career, is, in many respects the most important duty of Managers, who should stand legally in loco parentis to the young persons for, say, two years’.34 He stated, ‘care has to be taken that children do not return to unsuitable homes or surroundings’, for there was a risk of their being exploited commercially. The School Manager, he went on, already carried out the required work for the aftercare programmes efficiently.
Again, the Cussen Report’s recommendations concerning the issue of aftercare agreed with Fr Giuseppe’s argument. Recommendation 28 of Cussen asserted, ‘There is room for improvement in the methods of supervision and aftercare of children discharged from the schools’. The Report then recommended: 29(d)The after-care of pupils should be carried out by the Manager of the school or by a carefully selected and experienced assistant. 29(e)Managers should be required to explain to all the children at the time of discharge that if ever in difficulties during the statutory period of after-care they are entitled to return to the school for advice and help. 29(f)The co-operation of charitable organisations should be enlisted in the work of after care. The priest in the parish to which a child is sent should invariably be notified by the School Manager of the place of residence and the name of the employer.50
Fr Giuseppe discussed at length the situation of teachers of literary subjects in the industrial schools. He pointed out the major problems facing the School Manager was keeping such teachers in their Schools. These teachers, first and most importantly, were not recognised as National School teachers. This occurred even though they were required to follow, in its entirety, the National School programme and were subject to inspection by National School Inspectors. This non-recognition made it difficult for Schools to retain fully qualified teachers. Teachers stayed until he or she found a vacancy in a recognised National School. Industrial School Managers could not bind them to any terms of service and they could not pay proportionate salaries. He argued that a specific educational grant was required, out of which certified teachers would be paid on the same basis as assistants, as set out in the National School scale. The balance of the grant would be apportioned among the remaining approved teachers.