Warning: This post is among the most disturbing that has ever been posted here, so any person with a history of trauma-based mind control may wish to skip it entirely. However, anyone who still perceives the Vatican as a source of moral instruction is urged to read it in full. Please remember that, in 2001, Pope Ratzinger sent an internal memo to Bishops forbidding them from reporting child sexual abuse to legal authorities. It's important to realize that Catholic sex abuse scandals are not isolated incidents of garden variety child molestation but instead a systematic cover up of ritualized torture. What can possibly explain the widespread prevalence of sadistic pedophilia that would turn the stomach of just about anyone? That's the million dollar question that the mainstream media won't touch with a ten foot pole.
This chapter describes the nature and extent of abuse reported in evidence to the Committee by 413 male witnesses in relation to 26 Industrial and Reformatory Schools in Ireland. The 413 witnesses made 482 reports of abuse regarding the four types of abuse defined by the Acts.1 Those four types are physical and sexual abuse, neglect and emotional abuse. Not all 26 Schools were reported for each of the four types of abuse. The report of abuse by a witness may either refer to descriptions of single episodes or to multiple experiences of being abused in a School. In most instances reports of abuse refer to more than one episode of abuse and more than one type of abuse. One hundred and sixty six (166) witness reports (34%) were of all four types of abuse. Sixty eight (68) witnesses reported abuse in more than one School...This section describes reports of actual incidents of physical abuse, non-accidental injury and lack of protection from such abuse given in evidence by witnesses to the Committee. The types of physical abuse reported included hitting, punching, kicking, flogging, and bodily assault with implements. The Committee heard disturbing accounts of severe assaults causing injuries that required medical intervention. Witnesses also reported being abused by being immersed in water, being burned, and subjected to what they believed to be deliberate and persistent physical cruelty...Witnesses reported being physically abused by religious and lay staff and others including: visiting clergy, members of the general public and men in work and holiday placements....Witnesses described a daily existence that involved the possibility of being hit by a staff member at any time, for any reason or for no reason. Witnesses also reported being physically abused by co-residents.
It is notable that witnesses at times described daily, casual and random physical abuse as normal and wished to report only the times when the frequency and severity of the abuse was such that they were injured or in fear for their lives. Three hundred and forty six (346) of the 403 witnesses reported that they were subjected to frequent physical violence; they described a climate of pervasive fear in the Schools and provided consistent reports of generally not knowing why they were being beaten
The forms of physical abuse reported by witnesses to the Committee included punching, flogging, assault and bodily attacks, hitting with the hand, kicking, ear pulling, hair pulling, head shaving, beating on the soles of the feet, burning, scalding, stabbing, severe beatings with or without clothes, being made to kneel and stand in fixed positions for lengthy periods, made to sleep outside overnight, being forced into cold or excessively hot baths and showers, hosed down with cold water before being beaten, beaten while hanging from hooks on the wall, being set upon by dogs, being restrained in order to be beaten, physical assaults by more than one person, and having objects thrown at them....A small number of witnesses stated that Brothers were trained to beat residents and reports were heard of religious Brothers demonstrating the exercise of discipline to trainee Brothers.
One day it was ...visitor’s day... they used to pick about half a dozen lads. You would be called to the hall. I was picked once and they would actually show the ...visiting student Brothers... how to do the hiding. The Brother who was in charge of the playground, mostly Br ...X... or Br ...Y... would show them how it’s done, they would give you a hiding to show them and then they would have a go, with the black jack ...(leather)... with loops of lead in it or steel.
Witnesses reported being introduced to a strict regime from the moment of their arrival in the School.
We were met by Br ...X... he ruled the roost, he told us about the rules, said if we ran away there was severe punishment, the second time our head would be shaved and the third time we would be sent to ...named School.... He then stripped us off, told us to bend over the desk; he hit the desk with a leather strap and said, “Say the Our Father”. I could not say it. He hit me across the legs and warned me not to step out of line. He told us to get in the shower, cold water, “to scrub away your sins”, with carbolic soap. He then left and came back with clothes, comb ... he hit me with the strap when I had the clothes on because I should be in pyjamas. We went to the dormitory, the boys were asleep, he said, “This will always be your bed unless you wet the bed, then you will end up with the smellies with Mr ...Y...”. It was dark, there was no food. I was very upset and frightened. Then that night Mr ...Y... came walking down with his walking stick, he touched my penis with the stick and said, “Don’t ever let me catch you”. Later I could hear kids crying as he lashed kids with a stick, getting them up for the toilet. That was my first night in ...named School....
In addition to physical abuse as the result of bodily assault by punching, hitting and kicking, witnesses reported a variety of implements were used to beat and physically abuse residents. The ‘leather’ was the most commonly reported implement with 381 witness accounts heard of its use in all 26 Schools. Witnesses described the leather strap as strips of leather sewn together, measuring about two inches wide, half an inch thick and about 18 inches long. One end was described by a number of witnesses as shaped for a handgrip. A number of witnesses reported that some of these leather straps contained metal or coins to add weight. Five (5) witnesses provided accounts of either making or seeing these embellished leather straps being made in the bootmaking workshops.
They used the leather for the least excuse. It was heavy, stitched and with waxed ends. It was very painful, you would scream in pain. As convent boys we didn’t have a chance. The other boys, the city kids who were tough, and the Brothers, all picked on us. We stuck together which wasn’t a good idea.
Some of the Brothers had different leathers, I know because I made them when I was 14, in the boot room, some of them had little tiny leads in them, some had coins, some were straight. They weren’t soft, they were hard.
Witnesses described other leather straps of varying dimensions: some were described as leather belts, others as longer, thinner straps referred to as whips. Two (2) witnesses from two different Schools described being beaten with leather straps with leather thongs attached to the ends, one witness discharged in 1950 referred to the strap as a cat-o’-nine-tails.
I’ll never forget the cat-o’-nine-tails, 10 tongs ...(thongs)... it used to have knots across the bottom. Observing other boys stripped and the blood running down as they were being flogged across the body, it was terrible. There must have been a new rule by the Government at some stage because it happened no more.
There were 232 accounts of being hit or beaten with a variety of sticks, including canes, ash plants, blackthorn sticks, hurleys, broom handles, hand brushes, wooden spoons, pointers, batons, chair rungs, yard brushes, hoes, hay forks, pikes and pieces of wood with leather thongs attached. One hundred and eighteen (118) witnesses reported being beaten with canes and 37 with hurleys. Other implements described included bunches of keys, belt buckles, drain rods, rubber pram tyres, golf clubs, tyre rims, electric flexes, fan belts, horse tackle, hammers, metal rulers, butts of rifles, t-squares, gun pellets and hay ropes. Witnesses also reported having objects thrown at them, such as blocks of wood or sliotars.
I was crying, I wouldn’t stop crying. He ...(Br X)... caught me by the hair. I was down in the ground and the first thing he could lay his hand on was a hammer and he hit me and damaged me ... (described and displayed mark to hand)... if you moved out of turn or something you got hit..
Br ...X... flogged me on the bog. We, another fella, were messing laughing and grinning. He ...(Br X)... hadn’t got his leather and he walked over to a tree and got a branch and he peeled it and said “take off your trousers”. I thought he was only joking, he got ...named co-resident... to hold me and he ...(Br X)... lashed me. He should be in hell now, he lashed me. I was bleeding, I was sent to the nurse
Thirty four (34) witnesses described being forced into scalding or freezing showers or baths as deliberate punishments, including a number who reported being hosed with cold water before or after a severe beating. One witness reported that his head was held under water in a sink while working in the kitchen, another reported having his head held under water while bathing.
Twenty two (22) witnesses described various means by which they were physically abused by burning and scalding; all the incidents reported were isolated and included being burned with matches and cigarettes, having fingers put into electric sockets and having scalding water thrown at them while working in the kitchen. One witness who reported being scalded was so badly burned that he was hidden from sight during a subsequent inspector’s visit.
There were reports from three Schools of dogs being used by staff members to assault and frighten residents, the dogs were described in some instances as pets. In other instances witnesses reported staff ‘patrolling’ with large dogs including Alsatians that were believed to be used as a threat against misbehaviour.
There was this man there he had ... 3 dogs, he was an outsider ...(lay ancillary worker)... I was sent over to the hay barn to stack hay as punishment, the 3 dogs were set on me and the scar is there now where they bit me, you can see the mark on that finger ...(displayed scar to Commissioners)... I asked to go down to the nurse and he said “no”. Anyway, the next morning it was gone all septic and I had to go down to ...named hospital... where they put all stitches in it.
There were also four references by witnesses of being threatened and intimidated by Brothers who had dogs and carried guns for hunting.
Methods of physical punishment were also reported to vary both between staff and Schools. For example, witnesses discharged from three Schools in the 1970s and 1980s described being locked out overnight as a punishment, referred to as ‘freezing time’. Being locked out in cold weather and left to sleep outside were reported as alternative punishments to being beaten. Another witness described the following:
One new lad came and he was covering himself getting dressed. This Brother decided he was going to make a man out of him, so he pulled off his clothes. The young fella started crying and Br ...X... hung him out the window ...(from a height)... by the 2 legs, we all saw it. You were always in fear of that sort of thing. Different Brothers did different things.
n addition to reports of what appeared to be indiscriminate violence, witnesses reported being beaten for other reasons, including: bed-wetting and soiling, inattention in the classroom, left-handedness, stammering, not knowing lessons, disclosing physical and/or sexual abuse, absconding, ‘stealing’ food, talking in line, delay in obeying an instruction, ‘looking the wrong way’ at a staff member, attending the infirmary, complaining of feeling unwell, general wear and tear on clothing and footwear, talking at meals or in bed, talking to girls, playing soccer, losing a game against an outside team, perceived sexual thoughts or actions and not being able to carry out work tasks quickly and properly.
It was frequently reported that residents who wet their bed were made to sleep in either a separate dormitory or in a separate section of the main dormitory. It was also reported that nine of the 26 Schools for boys employed a night watchman who woke habitual bed-wetters during the night to use the toilet. The Committee heard consistent reports of particular practices in relation to the management of bed-wetting, including all bed-wetters being woken, being checked for wet beds, being beaten with a stick while in bed and being forced to wait for lengthy periods in cold bathrooms to use the toilet. Witnesses also reported being hit as they stood waiting; others reported that beds were inspected each morning, followed in some Schools by an immediate beating if the bed was wet.
I was beaten stark naked for wetting the bed, 2 or 3 different people would beat me. You would be called up after breakfast by Br ...X.... He was evil. He liked beating kids naked, he would put your head between his legs ...(while he beat you)... for wetting the bed, and more bed-wetting boys would be there as well ...(watching)... The night watchman would get you up at night with a stick, every night. He would beat you out of the bed. You’d have to bring the sheets up to be washed to the laundry and a bigger boy would beat you with a stick there, he was the senior in the laundry.
Witnesses described trying to stay awake so as not to wet their bed. The rules in some dormitories were said to preclude getting out of bed at night. In other Schools witnesses reported being reluctant to go to the toilet during the night for fear of being followed and abused by the night watchman or older co-residents. There were 43 witness reports of being beaten and sexually abused by night watchmen and older co-residents in this context.
Running away was a feature of life in the Schools and the majority of witnesses made some reference to either running away, thinking about doing so, or observing what happened to returned absconders. Witnesses consistently reported that residents who absconded or ran away were severely beaten and flogged upon their return to the School. The public nature and severity of the beatings were described as traumatic, and made a lasting impression on those who witnessed them in addition to serving as a caution against absconding. Reports of running away were frequently accompanied by accounts of persistent physical and sexual abuse.
I ran away a few times. He ...(Br X)... was trying always to put his hand down my leg.... (On return to the School)... I was put up on rafters. There was an old shed there, it was a barn, I was tied to the rafters, he ...(Br X)... had the rope over the top, I was like that ...demonstrated spread out facing down... he lashed me with the leather, over the back and down the arms, that happened on 4 or 5 occasions, I ran away again after that.
One day a gang of us went for a walk into a field, we were told we could. They had farm workers out with dogs looking for us. We were caught and brought back. We were taken onto the yard, they let the dogs go ...(attacking)... and the boys would line up and hit you with whatever they had in their hand, kick you, you had to run through the line. This was a punishment to let the boys know that if it ever happened again this is what would happen. That night you were beaten again, you were thrown over the bed ...crying....
Four (4) witnesses from two different Schools reported that they were beaten on the soles of their feet with a cane and leather strap as a punishment for running away. Witnesses from three other Schools reported being made to stand or kneel in the recreation yards following their beatings and were ostracised by their peers. Two (2) witnesses from the latter Schools reported being made to kneel in the yard for several hours in their underpants in winter and were incontinent while kneeling there. The punishment for absconding in a number of Schools was reported to include being put on reduced food and being forbidden to associate with others. Witnesses described being made to walk around the yard alone for several weeks. Others reported being made to kneel in the refectory while they ate bread and water. This punishment was described as continuing for days and up to three weeks in one instance. One witness reported that when he was brought back after running away his head was shaved and he was later taken from his bed, stripped and beaten, punched and kicked by a group of six Brothers in front of other residents.
One hundred and fifty seven (157) witnesses reported being physically assaulted in the classroom. Witnesses described the liberal use of the leather, cane and wooden ruler or stick on the face, palms, wrists, tips of the fingers, forearms, legs, backs of the hands, across the shoulders, back and the bottom. Learning was reported to have been dominated by the fear of punishment for various reasons including for not knowing the correct answer, being left handed, being unable to read when called upon and being unable to speak clearly, as described by a witness discharged in the 1960s:
If he ...(Br X)... asked a question and you put the hand up, you got a beating if you could not ...(give the right answer).... If you were too slow with the answer you got beaten. ... I got to the stage that I didn’t answer because I would get a beating. Everything operated on fear. There was one Br ...X... if you done it too slow he hit you, he had 2 leathers, if he appeared on the scene there was fear. No matter what you done, you would always get it wrong. If you frowned or a flinch ... he would hit you.
Witnesses who have struggled with poor literacy all their lives described years of humiliation and abuse in the classroom. In four Schools, witnesses described being bent over desks, forced to remove their trousers and being beaten in front of the entire class. Witnesses described being restrained in different ways including having their heads wedged in a window and in a drawer while they were beaten on the bare bottom. The following is an additional account of abuse in the classroom.
Other classroom punishments reported were: ear pulling, being lifted up by the hair or cheeks, beaten on the soles of the feet, having objects thrown at the head or body and being made to stand facing the wall with arms elevated until fatigued, when a beating would ensue. Several witnesses reported having their face slapped or boxed repeatedly while their head was held steady by a tuft of hair. This practice was referred to by witnesses as a ‘jaw warmer’ or ‘rabbit punch’.
One time in the class, my arms would be black and blue, both arms, because I couldn’t read a couple of lines in Irish, he ...(Br X)... beat me.... He’d put you in the corner, your hands would be up like that ...(displayed arms raised)... if you dropped them you’d get the leather. He put me in the back of the class and he’d tell you to run to him, he’d put his fist out like that ...(indicated fist and outstretched arm)... and you’d run into it.... It would be the kick in the shins you would get off him. As soon as you hit the deck he would pull you up by the ears for what we used to call the rabbit punch, you know, like that ...indicated hand movement... with the side of his hand on the neck, he’d chop you, you’d go down on the deck. I was out ...(unconscious)... that day, you’d be reeling ... an 11 year old child.
Random beatings in bed at night were also described. Night watchmen were reported to have patrolled the dormitories during the night in nine Schools. Both the night watchmen and religious staff are reported to have checked that residents lay in a particular way in their beds, reports of this experience vary over the years and between the different institutions. Witnesses from some Schools consistently reported being beaten if they were found lying with their hands under the bedclothes, others were beaten if they did not have their arms and hands crossed over their chest in a particular way. Witnesses believed the reason for this enforced practice was to avoid what religious staff referred to as the ‘sin’ of masturbation.
You couldn’t sleep on your back, your ass would be so sore ...(after a beating)... you’d want to sleep on your belly, but they wouldn’t let you sleep, you had to sleep in a particular way, on your back.
Showers were reported as locations of abuse in six institutions. The most commonly reported reasons for being beaten in the showers were not washing properly, ducking out of unbearably hot or cold water or attempting to avoid sexual assault. Religious and some lay staff were reported to supervise the showers, usually alone. Some residents described being checked as they left the shower area and were pulled aside for punishment if not considered to be properly washed, at other times it was reported that they were randomly struck with either a leather strap or a stick as they were showering or as they filed past the supervising staff member. A specific complaint about these beatings was the pain of being beaten on wet skin and the humiliation of being beaten while naked.
Witnesses reported being flogged and severely beaten for many reasons, including: disclosing or reporting abuse, absconding, speaking to visiting girls, riding a visitor’s bike, refusing to clear blocked toilets, taking food, fighting, delay in lining up, not washing properly or having torn clothes.
When I was there 3 blokes ...named co-residents... they ran away and when they were brought back, they were flogged, on one of these vaulting horses. We were all there. Br ...X... said “I’m going to make an example of these boys”, and one by one they came out, no trousers on them ... naked from their waist down, each one individually over the vaulting horse, he flogged them. Well you could see their backsides going red blue, red blue, the whole School watching.
Twenty three (23) witnesses described injuries to their genitalia as a result of being kicked or flogged. Eighteen (18) witnesses described being hosed with cold water or having cold water thrown on them prior to, or in the course of a severe beating. A witness gave the following account of a severe beating when he was found in the company of co-residents who had been talking to some girls visiting their brothers in the School:
Br ...X... met the boys coming up from talking to the girls, he sent them down to the washroom, he told me to go too, but I wasn’t with them. He told the 3 of us to get into bathing togs. He went out and got the leather strap, like the cut-throat razor, he came in, took off his coat and his collar and I never in all my life seen anything like what he done. He started beating us, saying we were talking to the girls ... he took off his shirt ... he didn’t beat me so much as the others. One of the lads started soiling themselves, he beat them so much, grabbing himself saying, “I’ll give ye girls”, rubbing himself. One of the lads was in bits, they were in a terrible state.
Witnesses reported being filled with terror as religious staff appeared to lose control when they were administering physical beatings or floggings. It was reported that such beatings frequently resulted in injury or, in 22 reported instances, rendered the resident unconscious. Eight (8) of the 22 witnesses reported that they passed out while being beaten and woke up in bed unable to move. There were 36 accounts of witnesses being unable to sit or lie on their back for some days after being beaten, and a further 28 accounts of being unable to walk following a beating or flogging.
I remember another boy who would not cry. I remember one day he got 50 slaps on one hand and then 50 on the other and then another 50. This Brother got so mad that he ...(co-resident)... would not cry. He, Br ...X... kicked the legs from under him and kicked him to the ground and kicked him until he went unconscious. He was just lying there with his eyes staring up to the sky.
Eleven (11) witnesses reported that the flogging or beating they received was so severe that they thought they were going to be killed. Five (5) witnesses from two Schools reported that named co-residents were never seen again following a severe beating.
I remember this one Brother. The boys would be crying in the morning going into class. He’d start with sums, always an awkward division. I remember one boy in the class ...named co-resident.... He was asked a question this time, he made the awful mistake of saying he knew the answer but couldn’t get the answer out, and with that this Br ...X... went absolutely berserk.... The brutality of that man, he hit him everywhere, with the leather. He ...(co-resident)... was trying to avoid being hit. I never saw him ...(co-resident)... again. I often did think about him, whether he went blind or not, I don’t know. I never saw him again.
Fifty nine (59) witnesses reported episodes of being physically abused by more than one person simultaneously. Of those reports there were 42 witness accounts of two or more religious staff coming to the dormitories at night and removing residents from their beds. Witnesses reported being brought to either cloakrooms, boot rooms, showers and bathrooms or the rooms of religious staff members where they were stripped and placed across a table, bed or chair and beaten by more than one priest or Brother. The Committee also heard reports of residents being held down by co-residents under the instruction of a Brother. A small number of witnesses reported being held with their head between the thighs of one of the priests or Brothers while another priest or Brother beat them on the bare bottom with a leather strap. Witnesses also reported being severely beaten as part of a group for various reasons, for example when no one admitted to talking during silent periods or when a staff member wanted a resident to admit to a misdemeanour. Many witnesses described the involvement of more than one religious staff in the episodes of severe beating or flogging, and the assault being so severe that they sustained an injury.
Named School... ruined my life. Night-times were the worst; if you weren’t taken out of bed and beaten you were listening to it happening to someone else. You could hear the screams all over the whole building at night it was so quiet. Up to 4 Brothers would come and take a boy out of bed on some pretext and give him a hammering, make you take off your nightshirt, they would do what they wanted. They were like a pack of hunting animals.
There were five accounts of boys being tied down before being beaten; in one circumstance a witness described being tied to a bench and beaten. Another witness reported that a Brother sent him to the office, where he was told to take his clothes off, two Brothers took turns beating him on his body and hands until ‘I thought I was going to be killed’. The witness further reported his legs were swollen with open lacerations.
Witnesses reported a catalogue of injuries to themselves and co-residents as a result of physical abuse by religious and lay staff members in the 26 Schools reported to the Committee. Two hundred and twenty four (224) reports were heard of injuries including: breaks to ribs, noses, wrists, arms and legs, injuries to head, genitalia, back, mouth, eye, ear, hand, jaw, face and kidney. Sixty four (64) witnesses reported being left unable to walk, sit, stand or lie down as a result of those injuries. Other injuries included burns, dog bites, lacerations, broken teeth, dislocated shoulders, injuries to the soles of feet, and burst chilblains. Chilblains were a common ailment in the pre-1970s period and male witnesses reported experiencing severe pain after being struck on hands and legs with chilblains. Witnesses reported that at times they were beaten until their chilblains burst and bled.
Many witnesses reported more than one injury, which included the following:
One hundred and eighty six (186) witnesses reported being marked, bruised or swollen with welts.
Seventy one (71) witnesses reported blood being drawn.
Sixty (60) witnesses reported eye and/or ear injuries.
Forty four (44) witnesses reported head lacerations.
Thirty two (32) witnesses reported injuries to their hand, three of whom reported permanent damage.
Twenty eight (28) witness reported broken ribs, arms or legs.
Twenty three (23) witnesses reported injury to their genitalia.
Twenty two (22) witnesses reported receiving injuries that left them unconscious.
Twenty two (22) witnesses reported being scalded or burned.
Twenty (20) witnesses reported broken noses.
Twenty (20) witnesses reported split lips or broken teeth.
Seventeen (17) witnesses reported injuries to their face or jaw.
Thirteen (13) witnesses reported injuries to their feet.
Eight (8) witnesses reported injuries to their back.
Four (4) witnesses reported suffering kidney damage.
Three (3) witnesses reported being stabbed with farm and kitchen implements.
There were multiple injuries reported in relation to particular Schools and staff members, for instance 126 witnesses from three Schools reported injuries including broken bones, fractured limbs, head injuries, broken teeth and being left bleeding and bruised. Six (6) witnesses from one School named a particular Brother as the perpetrator of severe injuries, including broken noses and facial injuries:
I lost my 2 front teeth because of a whack like that ...demonstrated strike of the hand... out in the yard. If you got too near him...(Br X)... he would just whack you, he’d flatten you. ... A few days later I was sent to the doctor because my mouth was all up. ... He sent me on to the dentist in ...named town....
Twenty five (25) witnesses reported being hospitalised for different non-accidental injuries, as described above. Six (6) of these reports referred to one particular School. Others described co-residents being hospitalised for treatment of their injuries following physical assault by a religious or lay staff member.
Fr ...X... laid me out cold for talking; he walloped me so fast I couldn’t see it coming. He broke my nose, I had to go to hospital. He knocked me clean out. I had 2 big black eyes and the nurse sent me to the hospital.
The 2 years I had there I did not get over it for many, many years. I was shattered. ... I suffered fierce violence there. I saw one boy ...named co-resident... battered on the bog, he got such a beating from Br ...X... that his back was broken and he was shifted off to hospital in ...named town....
Witnesses reported that in a number of Schools a member of the religious staff or an older resident accompanied them to the hospital and in most cases spoke to the hospital staff on their behalf. Witnesses reported being warned by the person who had beaten them and by other staff to tell the doctor the injuries were caused accidentally.
One day I was on the farm and we were messing, me and ...named co-resident... squirting milk at each other. There was a Mr ...X (named lay ancillary worker)... there and he told Br ...Y.... He ...(Br Y)... came over and dug his nails into the back of my ears and then he hit me with his clenched fists on the jaw and of course I went down. I was in the infirmary myself for 6 or 7 weeks after that because they smashed my jaw, my gum was all gone, inside of my face was all ripped. Br ...Y... took me to ...named hospital... he done all the talking and he said “if anyone asks you, you have an abscess on your gum”. I was back in the infirmary, the treatment I was getting was hot salty water. It started getting a bit easier for me after that.
The 474 reports of physical abuse heard by the Committee identified 556 individuals by name as physically abusive, 110 of whom were also reported as sexually abusive.7 Witnesses reported being physically abused by a variety of personnel including religious and lay staff who were in positions including Resident Managers, teachers, and care and ancillary staff. It should be noted that Resident Managers or their designated deputies were authorised as Disciplinarians, as regulated. Witnesses also reported being physically abused by older co-residents. Seven (7) witnesses reported being physically abused by members of the public including visitors to the Schools and the employers on work placements.
Sixty-five (65) of the named male religious staff reported as physically abusive were identified by witnesses as being in positions of authority, including Resident Managers within the Schools. The remaining 329 Brothers and priests named by witnesses were reported to be care, teaching and ancillary staff within the Schools. Witnesses described some of the religious staff having different roles within the School and at times were not clear whether the ascribed role was in fact the individual’s dominant function within the institution. For example, witnesses referred to religious staff in authority as the Superior, Reverend Mother, School Master, Officer in Charge, Head Brother or Sister, and Brother or Priest in Charge.
Forty two (42) of the lay staff who were reported as physically abusive were ancillary staff employed as night watchmen, drill masters, farm workers, maintenance and trade workers. Witnesses reported that contact with lay ancillary staff was mainly in the dormitories, showers or in the context of work activity on the farm, in the kitchens or in trade shops where they were in constant contact with the staff who abused them.
They had a large shower area. We had one shower per week. The showers were back to back. The person in charge of the baths, he was a lay person, if he wasn’t happy he used to examine boys. To his reckoning if the boys weren’t clean enough, he’d examine you, he would poke and hit you with a stick. I was walloped ... quite a few times, you’d cower in the shower, he would wallop you, in the genital area and on the posterior.
This section summarises the evidence provided by witnesses of sexual abuse ranging from contact sexual abuse including rape and associated physical violence to non-contact abuse such as enforced nakedness and voyeurism. Witnesses were generally distressed when describing their experiences of sexual abuse. They spoke in as much or as little detail as they wished. Some witnesses provided detailed and disturbing accounts of sexual abuse, other accounts were sufficient to clarify the acute or chronic nature of both contact and non-contact sexual abuse....Two hundred and forty two (242) male witnesses (59%) made 253 reports of sexual abuse in relation to 20 Schools.9 Eleven (11) witnesses reported sexual abuse in relation to two separate Schools. Witnesses described their experience of sexual abuse as either acute incidents or multiple episodes that, for some, occurred throughout their entire admission in the School. Witnesses reported being sexually abused by religious and lay staff in addition to other adults, most of whom had some association with the Schools.
The frequency of sexual abuse reports varied widely between Schools:
Four (4) Schools were collectively the subject 156 reports.10
Five (5) Schools were the subject 10-17 reports, totalling 67 reports.
Eleven (11) Schools were the subject of 1-6, totalling 30 reports.
Witnesses described contact sexual abuse including: inspection of genitalia, kissing, fondling of genitalia, forced masturbation of, and by, an abuser, digital penetration, penetration by objects, oral and anal rape and attempted rape, by individuals and groups. Witnesses also reported several forms of non-contact sexual abuse including detailed interrogation about sexual activity, indecent exposure, inappropriate sexual talk, voyeurism, and forced public nudity. Some witnesses gave accounts of isolated incidents of sexual abuse and others reported being sexually abused on many occasions, over a period of months or years...Sixty eight (68) witnesses reported being anally raped. There were a further 14 reports of attempted rape and six reports of digital penetration. Many of these reports were associated with violence, of which there were 88 reports in total, including 23 reports of injuries to genitalia by beating with a leather and kicking.
The secretive and isolated nature of sexual abuse was frequently described. Many witnesses reported that the fear of severe punishment and the threat of either them or their siblings being sent to a more restrictive institution inhibited them in both resisting and disclosing sexual abuse. Witnesses further reported that the culture of obeying orders without question, the authority of the abuser and the experience of not being believed and being severely beaten after they reported abuse, rendered them powerless to stop the abuse....Sexual abuse was also reported to occur off-site when residents were taken out of the institution for holidays, outings or work placements, by individuals who sexually abused them. Witnesses reported that sexual abuse was often preceded by physical violence that they believed was intended as an intimidating threat...Witnesses repeatedly stated that co-residents who had no family contact were the most common victims of sexual abuse.
There were 88 witness reports of sexual abuse and associated physical violence, 15 of these reports related to one School. Many of the reports heard were of witnesses being beaten while their abusers masturbated, or of the witnesses being beaten on their bare buttocks while they were held against the abusers’ genitals. Witnesses described physical abuse perpetrated in the context of sexual abuse as serving to both enforce compliance with the sexual assault and as a means of securing the silence of the witness concerned. Witnesses who reported being sexually abused, including being anally raped, named Brothers about whom the Committee heard a number of reports of sexual abuse...Sexual abuse associated with violence was also reported to be accompanied at times by serious threats of physical harm, including risk to life, for the perceived purpose of instilling fear and enforcing compliance. For example, witnesses reported being threatened that if they ever told anyone what happened to them they would be ‘drowned in the slurry pit’, ‘sent to a worse place’, ‘killed’ or in one instance, ‘cut up and buried in a bag in the bog’. This latter threat was issued by a lay ancillary worker who the witness reported challenged him with a knife.
There were 16 witness accounts of sexual abuse being perpetrated by more than one religious staff simultaneously, generally in association with physical assault...Sexual abuse associated with severe physical violence involving more than one staff member was generally reported as having occurred at night. Witnesses reported being taken from their beds and brought to staff members’ bedrooms, bathrooms or other areas, where they were abused by two or more Brothers and/or priests...In relation to one School, four witnesses gave detailed accounts of sexual abuse, including rape in all instances, by two or more Brothers and on one occasion along with an older resident. A witness from the second School, from which there were several reports, described being raped by three Brothers:
‘I was brought to the infirmary...they held me over the bed, they were animals....They penetrated me, I was bleeding’.Another witness reported he was abused twice weekly on particular days by two Brothers in the toilets off the dormitory:
One Brother kept watch while the other abused me ...(sexually)... then they changed over. Every time it ended with a severe beating. When I told the priest in Confession, he called me a liar. I never spoke about it again. I would have to go into his ...(Br X’s)... room every time he wanted. You’d get a hiding if you didn’t, and he’d make me do it ...(masturbate)... to him. One night I didn’t ...(masturbate him)... and there was another Brother there who held me down and they hit me with a hurley and they burst my fingers ...displayed scar....
Two hundred and forty six (246) lay and religious staff and others were reported as sexual abusers by male witnesses. One or more reports of sexual abuse were made against each of those identified as sexual abusers. Witnesses identified 186 perpetrators of sexual abuse by name, 110 of whom were also named by witnesses as physically abusive. A further 60 unnamed perpetrators were identified by their position or occupation....witnesses also reported that they were sexually abused by external clergy and Brothers who were visiting the Schools or others to whom witnesses were sent to work. As previously stated external clergy included priests and others of higher rank. These visiting religious were described as either friendly with religious staff or visiting the School in a pastoral role. There were also four reports of sexual abuse by either a clerical student or visiting members of the congregation in relation to four other Schools....The Committee heard reports of sexual abuse by visitors and volunteer workers from seven witnesses in relation to one specific School. These men were members of the general public, each of whom was believed to be known to religious staff. The witnesses described being collected by car and taken to men’s homes, the cinema or on trips to the seaside or country. Four (4)) witnesses reported being taken with co-residents on a regular basis, one by a group of men overnight and the other three witnesses by a man in a van who bought them sweets and ice-cream and sexually abused them by fondling or masturbation, either in the van or in his home. Four of the 11 witnesses reported being taken alone for overnight excursions where they shared rooms and beds with identified abusers in their homes, guesthouses or other accommodation. Witnesses described these outings as apparently spontaneous.
...Three hundred and sixty seven (367) male witnesses (89%) made 408 reports concerning the neglect of their care and welfare in 22 Schools. There were 379 witness reports of food provided to residents being inadequate in both quality and sufficiency. The reports referred to 21 Schools. Three hundred and forty nine (349) reports of poor and inadequate food were made by witnesses who were discharged before 1970. Some witnesses reported having so little to eat that at times they were starving.
In the morning you got 2 cuts of bread and dripping, the dripping was put on the night before. The food was terrible there, you were hungry, it was rationed even though the place was self-sufficient. They had their own tomatoes and orchard too, but we never got them.
Throughout all decades reported to the Committee witnesses noted differences between the quality and quantity of food available to them and that which was provided for the religious staff, as observed by witnesses who worked in kitchens preparing and serving food for both residents and staff.
I had to serve breakfast for the Brothers, as you got older you used to serve breakfast. I couldn’t believe the breakfast they had.... I can’t believe what we get and what they get. One day I nicked an orange, they get a whole orange! There was a woman there. She cooked breakfast for them.
Many witnesses said that although there were large farms attached to their Schools the produce from the farms was generally not provided for the residents. Witnesses from six Schools described preparing potatoes and other vegetables for sale and being involved in the distribution of various types of farm produce for sale outside the School. Witnesses who were prescribed special diets or extra milk and eggs reported that the recommended food was not always provided for them although they stated that in some Schools it was available for sale. In addition to reports about the inadequate amounts of food provided to residents, witnesses also reported that the lack of supervision in the refectories meant that in several Schools the youngest or most recently arrived residents were dependant on older residents leaving enough food for them to eat in the rush for what was provided. Witnesses reported being frequently left without any food:
I was always cold and hungry, smaller and weaker boys missed out in the general grab for food which was not supervised or was supervised and condoned by the Brothers ... and in the refectory it meant older boys ate most of the food.
The area of neglect in healthcare most frequently reported by witnesses was the absence of investigation into the cause of non-accidental injury to residents. Witnesses reported being attended by visiting doctors and nurses attached to the Schools’ infirmary, as well as attending doctors’ surgeries and local hospitals with injuries received as a result of abuse. In the majority of instances witnesses stated that the doctors and nurses who treated these injuries failed to make inquiries as to the cause of the injuries and most witnesses reported being returned to abusive environments without investigation or an assessment of risk...Nurses were generally remembered as non-committal about non-accidental and other injuries. Repeated wounds from beatings were reported to have elicited no query from most nurses as to their cause, while some were sympathetic but unable to intervene on the residents’ behalf: ‘what could she do, they employed her’. One witness stated that in recent years he met a School nurse who had treated his injuries following a particularly severe beating. She remembered the incident and told him she ‘could do nothing about it’, as she had been sworn to secrecy. In one School witnesses were attended by a nurse who ‘did not want to know what happened when boys turned up badly beaten’. Sixty six (66) witnesses gave accounts of inadequate medical attention including being ignored, punished or ridiculed when they complained of being unwell or injured. Accidental injuries and childhood illnesses were reported by many witnesses to have been left untreated. Witnesses in a number of Schools reported never seeing a doctor or that the doctor was only ever called to see someone who was ‘really ill’. One witness who reported his finger and thumb were broken when he fell off a cart in a farm accident, had to continue working and received no subsequent treatment, ‘it mended by itself’. A number of witnesses reported that their parents brought them to hospital while they were at home on leave, two of whom had their broken arms examined and treated. Their injuries were sustained as a result of physical assault in the School by religious staff. Both witnesses said they had not received any treatment at the time of the initial injury in the School. Another witness was hospitalised while on weekend leave for treatment of abscesses that had been neglected in the School. Three (3) witnesses reported the death of boys who they described were ignored or neglected when they complained of being sick. One witness reported his belief that a co-resident died as a result of eating poisonous berries. Two (2) witnesses reported being hospitalised following suicide attempts in the context of abuse episodes. They were transferred back to the institution without psychological assessment or treatment.
Sixty seven (67) witnesses reported being deprived of contact with their parents, brothers and sisters while they were in the Schools. They also reported being actively denied information about their parents and siblings. Some witnesses commented that they were too young when they were first admitted to know who their brothers or sisters were and were never told. The deprivation and loss of contact with parents and siblings was reported to be a matter of deep distress, grief and anger that led to the fragmentation and loss of family networks by the time many witnesses were discharged from the Schools...Forty four (44) witnesses described how contact with their siblings was actively discouraged or denied. They reported being separated from their sisters and brothers while in the Schools and being denied contact with them. Witnesses also reported being punished if found attempting to communicate with their siblings who were in other sections of the same School. Some witnesses reported that their brothers were transferred or discharged from the School without them being told or having an opportunity to say goodbye...Witnesses reported that the experience of living in the regimented School system contributed to a sense of having no individual identity. The use of an allocated number instead of a name was reported by 25 witnesses and many others stated that they were either not spoken to individually or were only ever referred to by their surname.
Due to the generally public and frequent nature of the physical and emotional abuse inflicted on residents, witnesses stated that staff and co-residents were unavoidably aware of its occurrence. Witnesses also reported disclosing abuse to their parents, relatives and people in authority, both within the institution and outside, including to gardaí and other professionals. The Committee also heard and was presented with documentary evidence of correspondence between parents and the Department of Education regarding complaints of abuse. Witnesses stated that the response to their disclosures of abuse ranged from being punished and further abused, being ignored or to being protected from harm. In a small number of instances witnesses stated that they were aware that some investigation took place following disclosures of abuse.
One hundred and forty six (146) of the 413 witnesses (35%) reported that they told an adult they were being physically or sexually abused, 42 of them reported disclosing abuse to more than one person. The disclosures were to adults in positions of perceived trust and authority both within and external to the Schools...A number of witnesses reported being threatened that if they told anyone about the abuse they had experienced there would be more severe repercussions. Five witnesses stated that members of the religious staff visited them or their parents at home to reinforce their warning not to report or disclose their abuse.
Fifty seven (57) witnesses reported that when they disclosed abuse or it was evident by their injuries that they were being abused they were ignored and the abuse continued, leading them to believe that aggression and violence was part of the culture of the School. A number of witnesses stated that it was their belief that both religious and lay staff knew that residents were being abused and were at times sympathetic but were powerless or unwilling to change anything. Many witnesses reported that the risk of being deprived of family visits or being prevented from going home on leave deterred them from disclosing abuse. Others reported that when they did tell someone they were being abused they were either ignored or not believed and as a result they learned to remain silent, believing that nobody would listen to them. A witness who told a priest in Confession about being sexually abused reported that he was told to ‘keep your thoughts to yourself as you could hurt so many people’....more...