On 12th September 1967, Mr Barry Early,167 a member of Dublin City Council, was also appointed to the Committee and two days later, on 14th September 1967, the Department of Justice wrote to the Department of Education informing them that ‘the Minister’s nominee for membership of the committee is Mr Risteard Mac Conchradha, a higher executive officer, of the prisons division in this Department’. The other Departmental nominees were Dr JG O’Hagan, Senior Medical officer, Department of Health and Mr Antoin Ó Gormain, Psychologist, Department of Education. At the inaugural meeting of the Committee on 20th October 1967, O’Malley stated that his reason for establishing the Committee was that ‘various individuals and groups interested in sociological activities, had from time to time represented that the provision being made in our reformatory and industrial schools is in urgent need of improvement’. He further stated that the Committee ‘should not feel that limits are being placed on their investigations’.168
At the fifth meeting of the team on 20th October 1977, Mac Conchradha gave a progress report and informed the meting that rather than using St Patrick’s Institution, it was now proposed to use the old infirmary, which would require extensive renovation. The minutes record that that after this briefing: G. Granville, expressing his worry at what was being proposed, said that securing children in a place like St. Patrick’s had little to offer in terms of child care and could cause considerable damage; Fr. Pierce also expressed his opposition to what had been done and said it was not the purpose for which the Team had been set up.
The Departments of Education, Health and Justice each had to nominate a person to the Committee. The Department of Justice nominated Mr Risteard MacConchradha.16 In their Opening Statement during the Phase III hearings, the Department of Justice stated that it appeared from the documents that Mr Crowe17 was chosen because of his interest in child and youth welfare. He also had a working background in the prison administration section of the Department. His concern for the children caught in the system was obvious from the beginning. He wrote: The lot of the children, especially the boys, is very sad and there is an unbelievably entrenched “status quo” to be overcome, not least in the Department of Education, if there is to be any change for the better.
On 16th April 1970, Mr Berry, the Secretary General of the Department of Justice, sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Department of Education. He stated that Mr Crowe had reluctantly signed the ‘Report of the Committee on Reformatory and Industrial Schools’ on 13th April 1970. He then gave Mr Crowe’s reasons for his reservations in signing the report: To sign a report which made no reference to the situation about punishment in Daingean would, in the absence of evidence that the practice had ceased, be to appear to acquiesce in a practice which is indefensible and for the continuance of which the Minister for Justice could not avoid some official responsibility arising out of his having registered Daingean as a suitable place of detention under the Children Acts. On the other hand, to make any reference, however oblique, to this particular method of punishment in Daingean would be likely to lead to a disclosure of the situation and, in this way, to cause a grave public scandal. When the problem was explained by telephone to your Department, it appeared that the request of the Committee about punishment had been overlooked. It was confirmed that punishment of this kind is contrary to the policy of the Minister for Education and an assurance was given that – subject of course to any limitation there may be on the Minister’s powers – action would be taken to stop it in Daingean. In view of this, Mr. Mac Conchradha signed the Report. The Minister is also concerned lest a similar method of punishment may exist in other schools to which children and young persons are sent by the courts and he would be glad if your Department would take whatever steps are open to it to ensure that this is not the case.
Mr MacConchradha, Probation Administration Officer at the Department of Justice, was informed by memorandum dated 3rd June 1969 that: There is no doubt but that a Supervisor, on two occasions, infringed the regulations which are laid down. The reports that the Officer of the Department provided are still being considered but the matter must be researched further.