Soon after he took up his post as Housemaster, Mr Kavanagh observed that Mr Tade shouted and screamed at the boys. He was very volatile. Some of the boys complained to him that Mr Tade came into their rooms at night, especially after he had had a few drinks. They complained that he was physically abusive to them. Mr Kavanagh challenged Mr Tade about the boys’ complaints. Mr Tade denied any wrongdoing, and Mr Kavanagh initially accepted his word. Subsequently, the boys came to him again and said that things were worse because he had spoken to Mr Tade. He then reported it to Sr Astrid, and she seemed quite shocked by what he told her and said she would do something about it. He met her on at least two occasions. The second time he told her that the boys were continually complaining that nothing had been done, and he felt he could not continue working in the unit with Mr Tade and sought a transfer.
Mr Kavanagh explained that, at that time, he was in his mid-20s, with almost no experience in childcare. However, he knew the difference between right and wrong, and he believed the children were being beaten and he was concerned for them. He decided he would have to resign.
After he resigned, he continued to worry about the children. He had an introduction to the Bishop of Ossory and a meeting was arranged. The Bishop was very concerned about what he was being told, and Mr Kavanagh believed that the Bishop saw Sr Astrid and the Mother Superior, and may have discussed this with Sr Wilma.
She said that she did not trust Donal Kavanagh, although she did not explain why. She agreed that it was almost impossible to get care workers at that time, either qualified or unqualified, but she still did not want to retain Mr Kavanagh, who had asked for a move away from Peter Tade. Mr Kavanagh surmised that her antipathy stemmed from his desire to unionise the workforce in St Joseph’s.