There was an air of Ministerial detachment in the Dáil exchanges arising out of the closure, in 1959, of Greenmount School. Deputy Stephen Barrett asked the Minister for Education, Jack Lynch, if he was aware that the Greenmount children had been ‘dispersed without any prior discussion with their parents and that, in fact, the parents were not aware that the children had been removed from the Industrial School to other Industrial Schools until after the dispersal had taken place?’ The Minister replied: The conductors of the school did so for what they considered good and sufficient reason and there was no intention whatever to ignore parental rights. They did so in the best interest of the management and conduct of the school. Deputy Barrett pressed the point by stressing that the interests of the parents had been ignored and that the promoters of the Industrial School knew that they were ignoring the rights of the parents. Minister Lynch’s answer was: I think it ought to be made clear that they acted strictly within their rights and within the terms of the Children Act, 1908, which governs the conduct of Industrial Schools.54
The Dáil debate for 9th April records that Mr Stephen Barrett T.D. first asked the Minister about the band, and then asked if the Minister would ‘state the circumstances under which it became necessary to close down Greenmount ... details of the average number of boys in the institute for each of the three years prior to the close down, and the number on 31st March, 1959; and details of the manner in which the boys were dispersed upon the closing down and the manner in which Cork City and County will be catered for in this respect in future’.
Mr Barrett then asked: Is the Minister aware that these children were dispersed without any prior discussion with their parents and that, in fact, the parents were not aware that the children had been removed from the industrial school to other industrial schools until after the dispersal had taken place?
Mr Barrett then asked: Is the Minister aware that, in fact, the interests of the parents were ignored and that the promoters of this industrial school knew that they were ignoring the rights of the parents and, without any prior discussion or notice to them, removed the children and does he approve of that?
Mr Barrett pressed the matter further. He asked: Does the Minister agree that it is a very bad precedent in such matters and would he indicate that if any further industrial schools are being dispersed this precedent should not be followed?