Outside events had the potential to influence evidence given by witnesses. Following the ‘Dear Daughter’ programme in 1996, which documented allegations of abuse in Goldenbridge Industrial School, there was a flood of publicity about abuse in institutions. There were television programmes such as ‘States of Fear’, which were broadcast by RTE in April and May 1999 dealing with institutional abuse, which attracted enormous public interest and comment. The largest institutions such as Artane and Goldenbridge were often discussed in all the media, including the internet. Books of reminiscences appeared, and one major study, ‘Suffer the Little Children’ by Raftery and O’Sullivan,2 was published.
After an interruption, he continued: All I have got to say is that these schools are under the management of religious Orders, who are self-effacing people, and who do not require any commendation from me.
The position of the Congregation was that the first time they became aware of complaints about St Joseph’s was in October 1999, with the publication of Suffer the Little Children by Eoin O’Sullivan and Mary Raftery. In their Opening Statement the Congregation submitted: Allegations of abuse from former residents of St Joseph’s came as a source of deep shock to us, and particularly to the Sisters of the Dundalk Community, a number of whom had worked in the industrial school over the years, and were in regular contact with many former residents.