Department 'stood idly by' while children were abused


CASES OF child abuse where the Department of Education “stood idly by”, were highlighted in the Dáil during the debate.

Phil Hogan (FG, Carlow-Kilkenny) said that in 2002 he had asked then minister for education Dr Michael Woods for an investigation into “the role of the head of the inspectorate of reformatory industrial schools in giving a clean bill of health to some housemasters and convicted paedophiles like David Murray and Myles Brady in Kilkenny”.

Mr Hogan said that at the time the department was “at the centre of the matters” coming to political and Garda attention and it “stood idly by”. The minister’s response “was a request for me to give him more information rather than to investigate the complaints I had made”.

He also referred to Loretto Byrne, a Department of Education civil servant who was “treated as a crank and dismissed” when she raised concerns about children being abused in institutions. “However, the officials from the department involved at the time were promoted,” said Mr Hogan.

The Carlow-Kilkenny TD pointed out that “some children were transferred to psychiatric institutions which were never investigated by the Ryan commission and should be”.

Catherine Byrne (FG, Dublin South-Central) who used the last moments of her speaking time for a minute’s silence, said “it sickens me to the core to think I live just three minutes’ walk from the gates of one of these institutions where such depravity was part of everyday routine”, in reference to Goldenbridge.

“Now I know why my grandfather before he died begged my grandmother not to put their children into an industrial school.” He did some washing machine maintenance and “witnessed the children’s workload and the conditions”.

But she said “let us not forget those members of religious orders who have done good work but are now forever tarnished by the terrible scandal of abuse in industrial schools”.

Fine Gael spokesman on mental health Dan Neville highlighted the link between abuse and suicide. Twelve of 100 young people abused in children’s homes in North Wales committed suicide, while the average figure is 12 per 100,000.

Mr Neville referred to research involving industrial school sexual abuse survivors. They spoke of “trying to understand that they had to pay for food in supermarkets or learn to go to bed at night in a room on their own with no noise or people around them”.

Mr Neville said “redress was a particularly traumatic time for survivors who had not yet attended counselling. The experience of telling one’s story for the first time to a panel of strangers with whom one had built up no rapport and who were only interested in the facts of your case was a terrible ordeal”.

He spoke of difficulties people had telling their families.

He spoke of one case where a woman could not tell her husband because “when he hears the TV programmes he says ‘look at all those dreadful people lying just to get money’ ”.