In the Phase I hearing into Goldenbridge, Sr Helena O’Donoghue, Provincial Leader of the South Central Province, said: Each of the five Sisters who acted as Sisters in charge and involved in the Industrial School were professionally trained teachers at Carysfort Training College, which was a significant feature in the Dublin Mercy Community. Sr Bianca also had qualifications and certifications in domestic economy, cookery, needlework and household management. These Sisters also were supported by other Sisters as I have said, but who might not necessarily have any had particular training. Those who worked in the kitchen were qualified cooks and others would have taken short courses in household management.
The Sisters of Mercy were aware of ‘Dear Daughter’ before it was aired. When it was being made, the Congregation commissioned Mr Gerard Crowley, a childcare specialist, to carry out an investigation into Goldenbridge Industrial School, in an effort to provide the Congregation with an independent view of what happened there, and to give the Congregation some assistance in deciding how to respond to the allegations that were being made. Mr Crowley’s report is considered in detail in the chapter on Goldenbridge: for present purposes, it is sufficient to note that it reached a preliminary view that the allegations were broadly credible. In her evidence to the Investigation Committee in the Phase I hearing into Goldenbridge, Sr Helena O’Donoghue stated: The approach gave us, if you like, some understanding initially of how we might view our situation at the time and we out of that made our apology. We took the main conclusions from it that the regime was harsh and insensitive to the needs of children, that it was inadequate and did not meet their basic needs.
During the Phase I hearing into Goldenbridge, Sr Helena O’Donoghue provided some detail on the allegations of sexual abuse in that Institution: A small number of complaints have been made of sexual abuse associated with Goldenbridge. However, the only definite knowledge that we have about sexual abuse in the School relates to 1962. At that time a pupil accused a male caretaker or groundsman of assaulting her and she reported the matter to the Resident Manager, Sr Alida, who went to the Gardaí immediately. The offender was prosecuted and dismissed from employment in the School.