In contrast, according to the memoirs of Padraig Faulkner, Minister for Education 1969-73: It was to be quite some time after I left the Department of Education that I first heard the word ‘paedophile’. During my time as Minister I hadn’t an inkling that child sex abuse existed. When I published the Kennedy Report in 1970 Dail questions on a variety of aspects of it came thick and fast. Some deputies praised the diligence and selflessness of the religious orders in caring for Children in care. Nobody raised the question of abuse. Dr Noel Browne and Dr John O’Connell were among my most persistent questioners and nobody doubts that if these deputies had heard so much as a whisper about abuse, they would immediately have raised the matter in the Dáil.
On 15th March 1972, CARE – the campaign for the care of deprived children202 – wrote to the Minister for Education, Mr Padraig Faulkner, enclosing a paper setting out their views generally on residential care for young offenders, and specifically on the proposals to establish a new facility at Oberstown in North Dublin. They firstly outlined what they saw as the deficiencies in the system: (a) In the first place there is excessive reliance on residential care as compared with care of children in their own homes, in the community. (b) The residential system generally is undifferentiated in respect of the needs of children. Children are classified roughly by sex and by age but not according to their needs. (c) The buildings are old and make it difficult to avoid institutionalisation and to provide effective homely care. (d) The staff, with few exceptions, are untrained. Marlborough House recruits staff through the labour exchange. (e) The institutions are in most cases quite apart from the community in which they are located, even more so from the communities from which the children are drawn. Thus they do not allow for a service which deals not just with the children but with their families too. (f) Until now there has been no adequate system of assessment and referral which would ensure at least that residential care staff know the background and problems of their charges. (g) Apart form Marlborough House and St. Patrick’s Institution all of the Institutions are run on a voluntary basis by Religious Orders and they retain the freedom to accept or reject children sent to them. In the past year the boys’ reformatory in particular has cut down on the number of boys it takes because of lack of facilities. In these circumstances the courts are often unable to dispose of children to residential care even if they need it. (h) There are no specialist residential facilities for distinct problem-groups e.g. the emotionally disturbed and psychopathic young persons. (i) Marlborough House, the Remand Home, has been particularly criticised for its complete lack of facilities and adequate personnel.