Artane School of Music should disband, councillor says

Mannix Flynn claims the institute acts as a reminder of abuses by the religious

The Artane Band plays before a GAA final. Independent councillor Mannix Flynn has called for the Artane School of Music to disband. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The Artane Band plays before a GAA final. Independent councillor Mannix Flynn has called for the Artane School of Music to disband. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn has called for the disbandment of the Artane School of Music in Dublin because of its association with the Christian Brothers.

Cllr Flynn, a former resident of the notorious St Joseph’s Industrial School in Artane, has withdrawn his motion to Dublin City Council’s southeast area committee calling for the Artane Band to be renamed because of its historical association with the industrial school.

He acknowledged that asking for a name change could cause “hurt to those currently involved in the band” who had no connection with its past.

However, Cllr Flynn has submitted a new motion to the council calling on the Artane School of Music , from which the Artane Band is drawn, to disband as a “matter of human rights”.

The motion says the school is jointly run by the Christian Brothers and the GAA but encompasses insignia and uniforms that “hark back to an age of chronic sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the religious.

“The harrowing memories of these institutions for abuse victims are regularly flaunted without care or recognition at national sporting events in Croke Park in the form of the present Artane Band.

“A disbandment of the trust would sever all ties with the former industrial school and its brutal history and, in doing so, would acknowledge the ongoing collective suffering of so many.”

Survivors of Child Abuse

Cllr Flynn’s motion was supported by former members of the band who are involved in Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA).

Patrick Walsh and John Walsh, leading members of the Irish branch of SOCA, signed a joint statement supporting Cllr Flynn’s motion.

It said: “Some of our members were in the band. They wore the same uniforms and insignia which are paraded around Croke Park before national sporting events.

“The reality for band members in St Joseph’s, however, was not one of celebration and pride.

“Instead, boys lived in constant fear, were beaten and did their best to survive an environment where physical and sexual abuse were daily threats.

“Today we call on the public to hear us out and understand that what we see in the form of the current Artane Band is a flashback to monstrous times - chunks of our lives steeped in trauma that we revisit on a daily basis.”

Artane Band manager Keith Kelly said they had no intention of changing the name of the band and had received “overwhelming support” from the public and local representatives since Cllr Flynn first called for the name change.

“We will talk to any public representative, but Cllr Flynn has never reached out to us or sought to understand what we do now,” he said.

“We are an open and transparent organisation with our child protection policy proudly on display in our school.”