Fr Murphy, Provincial of the Oblate Congregation, presented evidence to the Investigation Committee at the Emergence hearing on 23rd July 2004. Fr Michael Hughes, the Provincial Archivist, gave evidence at the Phase I public hearing into Daingean on 9th May 2005. Complainant and respondent witnesses were heard in private between 10th May and 2nd June 2005 at the Commission’s offices. Finally, a public hearing in Phase III was held on 6th June 2006, and evidence was again given by Fr Hughes.
When asked by the Committee, ‘Were there rules and if so how were they known?’, Fr Murphy who spoke on behalf of the Oblates at the Emergence hearing said: There were rules and basically they were passed on from person to person within the body. So in a sense it became a tradition, if you like, of rules and regulations within the reformatory itself ... there was a Prefect in charge and he was the only one who could inflict corporal punishment for serious offences ... The other Brothers had the permission, had the right or permission, to inflict punishment on the hands only. So it was sort of a tradition, if you like, of corporal punishment for which there is though written protocol.
This statement of Fr Murphy on behalf of the Oblates, as a representation of corporal punishment practice in Daingean, is completely at odds with the documented cases outlined above.
Similarly, when Fr Murphy, who represented the Oblates at the Emergence hearing, told the Commission, ‘... we only find in the records one complaint of sexual abuse. It was brought to the attention of the Gardaí’, he was not correct, as it was the Gardaí who approached the Resident Manager about the matter.
Fr Murphy in his evidence told the Committee that, in the early 1960s, Fr Pablo,34 who was a trained psychologist, ‘... was suggesting changes ... trying to bring forward a better method of assessment and of treatment of these boys rather than the punitive, repressive thing’. It does not need training in psychology to recognise that a boy whose mother has recently died needs protection and guidance, while a boy from a criminal background needs containment. The system, as it evolved in Daingean, treated them both the same, offering only what Fr Murphy called ‘the punitive, repressive thing’.
In the Emergence hearing, Fr Murphy said, ‘The Kennedy Report in 1970 mentioned St. Conleth’s. They highlighted two things in that report: The state of the buildings and the clothing of the children’. His colleague, Fr Hughes, when questioned about the Kennedy Committee’s criticism that the showers were rusty through lack of use, rejected the Committee’s criticism, saying: There is no evidence that the Kennedy Committee did a very thorough examination of the premises, they descended on it as a group, there is no evidence that they made a very careful examination of everything ...