On 5th January 1967, Mr John Hurley wrote to the Minister for Education, Mr Donagh O’Malley about the consequences of institutional life on a named young person. He also enclosed two documents, both written by Fr Kenneth McCabe, one on juvenile delinquency, which was based on McCabe’s studies of various institutions in the country, the second a descriptive account of St Patrick’s Training School in Belfast. The first report argued that: Our reformatory and industrial school system as it stands, is at best, only punitive. Reformatory and industrial schools are absolutely inadequately endowed. No institution could run on £3-10-0 per boy per week (This may not be an exact sum). The result is as one would expect. The food is bad. Boys are disgracefully dressed. In Daingean when I was there (Summer 1964) boys were not supplied with handkerchiefs. Spitting was a common habit. The boys got one shower per month (this at the height of summer). The school had only seven showers. Too much time, far too much, is spent in the school square; a large yard where the boys just hang around for hours at a time. There is no segregation of new boys from the rest. A relatively good boy is thrown in with the rest and, within a month, he is as bad as all the others.
Mr Ó Laoghaire further communicated with Mr MacGearailt on 30th June, stating: As a result of our discussions with the Minister on 30/6/67, it was agreed 1.that the Managers would be approached and requested not to insist on the confidential clause 2.that the terms of reference would be at ‘A’ above 3.that the following would be members of the Committee: John Hurley, Chairman, Declan Lennon, Margaret McGivern, Sr. Kevin. A person to be nominated by Declan Costello T.D. I think it would be best if the Secretary spoke to Br. O’Raghallaigh about 1. and to Declan Costello about 3. We thought that a woman would result from 3 but on second thoughts maybe a man would suit better i.e. 3 men & 2 women instead of 2 men & 3 women.
On 6th July 1967, Mr Ó Raifeartaigh wrote to Mr Declan Costello TD. In the letter he stated: Further to our recent telephone conversation, please excuse my delay in letting you have the names of four people the Minister has in mind for the Committee on Industrial and Reformatory Schools which he proposes to set up. They are: -Mr. John Hurley, Chairman, Mr. Declan Lennon, Miss Margaret McGivern, Sr. Kevin. Mr. Hurley is Chairman of the Allied Cinemas group. Mr. Lennon was last year’s Chairman of Dublin Junior Chamber of Commerce. (He is also in the insurance business). Miss McGivern is also a member of Dublin Junior Chamber of Commerce. Sister Kevin is an expert in Social Science. I should explain that the Dublin Junior Chamber of Commerce has had for some time been especially interesting itself in the Artane Industrial School for Boys. The terms of reference of the Committee would be on the lines of: ‘To survey the Industrial and Reformatory School system and to make a report and recommendations to the Minister’. The Minister would be happy to have from you a suggestion for a fifth member.
The initial proposed membership of the committee were: Chairman, Mr. John Hurley, Cinema manager – has wide social interests Mr Declan Lennon and Miss Margaret McGivern – members of the Dublin Junior Chamber of Commerce which has interested itself in seeking improvements in the facilities and amenities provided in Artane Industrial School. The Rev. Kenneth McCabe, S.J. Middlesex, England. He has done a great deal of work in the field of juvenile delinquency and neglected children. Specially recommended by Mr. Declan Costello, T.D., who for many years has interested himself in the problems of children suffering from physical or mental handicap. An tSuir Caoimhin O’Caoimh – Little Sisters of the Assumption, Corbally, Limerick. Prominent social worker attached to Limerick Social Service Centre. Br. Francis O’Reilly, Resident Manager Artane. Sec. Association of Resident Managers of Reformatory and Industrial Schools. Dr. John Ryan, Medical Director, St. John of God’s Services for the Mentally Handicapped.’164
This proposal was submitted to Cabinet and was approved on 5th October 1967 subject to a number of changes on the proposed membership of the committee. These changes were: (1)The deletion of Rev K. McCabe; (2)John Hurley to be an ordinary member – not chairman; (3)DJ Miss Eileen Kennedy165 to be chairman; and (4)the addition to the membership of the committee of a nominee each from the Ministers for Education, Justice and Health.166
The Report was scrutinised in the Department of Education prior to publication and Mr Ó Maitiú drafted a lengthy response to the report dated 12th November 1980. He commented initially on the lack of agreement between the members and observed: Given the diverse composition of the Task Force, one could hardly expect unanimity of view on all aspects of the subject studied. Nevertheless, the extent of disagreement is somewhat surprising. There is one main report, one minority report (claimed by its authors, Mr. S. O Cinnéide and Miss N.O’Daly, of CARE, as a supplemental Report), and four sets of reservations from (a) Mr. K. O’Grady, Department of Justice, (b) Mr. Tomas O Gilín, Department of Education, (c) Mr. John Hurley, Department of Health and (d) Mr. M. Russell, Office of the Attorney General. It is obvious, therefore, that in reforming the Child Care system in this country, the Government will have to choose between a number of different solutions. Since the Department of Health will have the lead role in this reform, it is very likely to push the alternatives which best suit its own interests, and great vigilance will be needed to ensure that the interests of this Department do not suffer.