Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Saturday, June 19, 1999

Orphanage sex abuser's sentence review plea

Irish Independent Wednesday May 19th 1999

A FORMER child care worker who is serving a four-year prison sentence for indecently assaulting boys in an orphanage had a review of his sentence postponed for updated reports in Kilkenny Circuit Court yesterday.

Myles Brady (67), with an address at Griffith Avenue, Dublin, was given seven concurrent four-year sentences in June 1998.

The court was told that the victims were aged between 12 and 14 years of age and three of them resided in St Joseph's Orphanage, Waterford Rd., Kilkenny. One boy was a visitor and he was abused when he called to see friends.

Garda Sergeant John Tuohy, Kilkenny, said Brady worked in the orphanage from July 1976 to June 1977. During that time he sexually abused a number of children in his care.

Brady had worked in child care from 1965 until his retirement. Most of his working career was spent in England.

Barrister Brendan Grogan SC, for Brady, said his client had applied for the Sex Offenders Programme in Arbour Hill but no place was available. Of the 300 prisoners seeking places only 10 were available which was woefully inadequate.

Mr Grogan said his client was not a risk to young people anymore. The offences occurred over a period of 10 months more than 20 years ago and nothing since then had been alleged against him.

The review of his sentence after a year in custody gave him considerable hope.

Judge Olive Buttimer adjourned the case to Waterford Circuit Court in July for a probation report, a psychiatric assessment and a report from the Curragh Prison governor.

© Irish Independent &

Wednesday, June 16, 1999

Compassion comes with uncertain cost

Sunday Independent May 16th 1999

Joseph O'Malley, political correspondent, on the implications of the Government's apology to abuse victims

WHEN Bertie Ahern, on behalf of the State and its citizens, delivered the Government's ``sincere and long overdue apology'' to the victims of childhood abuse in industrial schools and orphanages, he was showing compassion, and pleading guilty.

By agreeing to amend the statute of limitations, the Government was also opening the way for a spate of compensation claims. The legal change will allow the victims of childhood sexual abuse time to sue the Catholic Church and the State on an issue the State is badly placed to defend, given its own admission of liability.

All parties in the Dáil fully approved of the Government decision. The only unresolved question is how much it will cost the taxpayers. They must pay up for the State's past negligence, a negligence that society at large tolerated, if not condoned.

The Government response marked a radical change in approach from that previously adopted on negligence issues. On army deafness, it has contested the claims made. On Hepatitis C, resulting from contaminated blood products, the State denied liability, and refused to apologise. The result was some bitterly contested legal battles, like the McCole case.

Its tough stance also reflected the Government's dilemma, given its dual role. The Government has to protect the taxpayers' interest by fighting to keep compensation payments down. But equally, it has a responsibility to the victims of State negligence. And, balancing compassion with concern for the taxpayers' welfare is never easy to achieve, as former Minister for Health, Michael Noonan discovered two years ago over the issue of Hepatitis C.

On Tuesday, the Government, given the weight of evidence, had little choice but to apologise, and remove the legal impediment to claims for compensation. However, it confined the proposed change in the statute of limitations provision to cases of sexual abuse. In doing so, it has left the Law Reform Commission to examine the question of physical childhood abuse, and make recommendations on how this might best be handled.

When the Commission on Child Abuse set up by the Government reports in three months' time, the dimensions of the problem should be much clearer. At present there are some 174 compensation cases seeking damages for abuse, listed for hearing before the courts. But after the Dail amends the law to facilitate easier access to the court for abuse victims, the number of claims is expected to soar.

For the Government, it revives the question of how best to handle the spate of legal actions that both the State and the Catholic Church will have to defend. Over a 40 year period, some 42,000 children went through industrial schools, and one of the first decisions of Government may well be to try and ensure that compensation claims are handled by a tribunal, rather than through the courts, in a bid to keep both awards and legal fees down from the outset. However, this cannot be legally enforced.

The parallels with the army deafness claims are ominous, not least the difficulty in assessing the likely cost. Fear of a repetition of that debacle has haunted the Government as it prepared to tackle this issue in recent months. Ministers fully appreciate the grip of the compensation culture on Irish society.

The army deafness claims illustrate the point. Few can yet agree on the likely cost of compensation payments. Estimates have ranged at various times from £5.5bn the Committee of Public Accounts; £4.5bn Department of Finance; £350m Department of Defence; and some £100m the Law Society, a figure which was later withdrawn.

In the Dáil in February, Defence Minister Michael Smith said some 13,880 deafness claims had been received from current and former members. Almost 4,000 of these had come from serving members of the Defence Forces, more than one third of its current strength.

At that date, some £51m had been paid out in awards, with a further £14m in legal costs, or some 27 per cent of the sum awarded. If the Minister's proposals for a compensation tribunal are agreed, then almost certainly the costs to the taxpayer are likely to be much lower than the worst case scenario outlined.

Under the court system it would take up to 17 years to process the outstanding claims, as compared with the three years under the compensation tribunal now proposed by the Minister. If the settlements including legal costs were in line with those already agreed, and assuming no further claims, then the total cost of compensation might come to some £365m for army deafness. Or so the Government hopes.

The difference in the estimates made at various times for settling the claims is a measure of the uncertainty surrounding the cost of compensation, both in this and other areas. A year ago the cost of compensation payments before the Hepatitis C tribunal was projected to reach some £335m.

This figure is set to increase further, following a judgement in the High Court last month. This increased an award of £165,000 for ``general damages'' from the tribunal by a further £100,000, and is set to have major implications for pending appeals.

The Government last week had little choice but to accept its responsibility in relation to the damning evidence of ill treatment and abuse of those in industrial schools over many years, documented in RTE's States of Fear. But having done so by way of apology, and established a Commission as a ``healing forum'' for the victims of the State's own neglect, the uncertain financial consequences still remain to be counted.

© Irish Independent &

Home truths about our dishonest past

Sunday Independent May 16th 1999

Dermot Bolger believes poetry will come but if only we can resolve the unspoken quarrel within ourselves

I WENT to a Christian Brothers school. One in name at least. The principal and two teachers were brothers, but times had moved on and it was a 95 per cent lay staff. One didn't feel frightened of those decent and human if occasionally ineffective Brothers. Any violence there was came from lay teachers, young, passing through and with chips on their shoulders.

But in my first year, a remarkable thing happened. A Brother who had seemed an animalistic thug, obviously mentally unstable, returned from Africa. Aghast at changes, he appeared during maths or history lessons to kidnap us and march us up to the hall, where he made us sing hymns, jumping down to viciously attack any child he felt lacked religious fervour.

Here ends my total history of clerical abuse.

Within weeks, he was recognised as a danger and an embarrassment and shipped off. The remaining Brothers might have preferred me to become a GAA star, but did everything to encourage me to become a writer to the extent that when I wrote articles opposing much of what they stood for, one said, ``I don't support what you say but I support your right to say it.''

Looking back, the story doesn't end there.

Where did that Brother come from and where was he sent? Was he allowed near boys again?

Back then, it didn't concern me. There was just relief than a deranged man was removed from exercising control. Because at 13, I knew his control was absolute. He had power over the teachers that he interrupted and power that I knew no outside authority, be they parents, police or courts, could touch. Politicians and clerics wringing their hands on television and denying they ever knew what happened in industrial schools and elsewhere are either imbeciles or liars (to themselves as much as others).

I was a quiet, well-bred child, never in trouble. But, by the age of 12, I knew implicitly almost every detail of that reign of terror. Fellow Finglasman Professor Colbert Kearney has described seeing boys he knew emerge from institutions utterly changed, with something killed inside them. I never knew such boys, yet the street telegraph meant I was abreast of that regime.

Anyone who didn't know, either didn't want to know or didn't want to admit to themselves that they knew. Recently, I encountered a middle-aged group of ex-students from one school, furious at printed remarks by another former pupil about an unnamed teacher.

Having vented their indignation about the ex-pupil, they proceeded to reminisce about schooldays, each regaling the others with tales of the same teacher far more explicit than the printed story they'd condemned.

This type of doublethink forms part of what we are as a nation.

That the Government is now establishing a ``truth commission'' to formally drag into the light the truth about institutional childhoods is a huge step forward and a tribute to Mary Raftery.

But its findings will, in essence, tell us what we already knew and didn't want to know.

Every society survives through an ever-changing collective amnesia. Germans still claim they didn't know and Serbs will do likewise. We don't want to hear details of kneecappings that could rock our fragile illusion of peace. Elderly Swedes shake their heads at the present controversy over forced sterilisation of unmarried women there, who became pregnant during our own Magdalen Laundries period, and ask how is it a scandal when it was an open secret that everyone knew.

The most interesting newspaper letter I've read all week came from former Editor Brian Quinn.

He wrote: ``It was with mounting shame that I viewed Mary Raftery's States of Fear. Journalists of the 1940s and 1950s had their suspicions of industrial schools. Even in a climate of acceptance that Brothers and nuns were beyond repute, we should have tried harder to find out the real truth. In the defence of journalists of that time, we would not have been believed, and managements and editors would never have held out against a massed attack by the all-powerful Irish Catholic Church. From first-hand experience I witnessed one of the worst of the Christian Brothers break into the office of the manager and demand that a court case that mentioned Artane should not be used. Those requests should have alerted journalists to start inquiries into what was happening in Artane. That we did not is a heavy burden.

Journalists of that time were trapped in a carefully designed plot that mixed lies with official evasion and ecclesiastical terror. Nevertheless, I for one believe that we allowed cowardice to rule.''

This rare honesty has been lacking not only in Church responses but in the attitude of Irish society.

In 1988, I was given the manuscript of Paddy Doyle's classic autobiography, The God Squad, which certain other Irish publishers had declined. When I decided to publish, the publishers which then printed all my company's books, refused to print it. The only book I could find to confirm Paddy's accounts of inhuman beatings at the hands of nuns was The Children of the Poor Clares, published in Belfast (and generally ignored here) after 15 Southern publishers rejected it. Mavis Arnold and her co-author encountered open hostility while researching it in Cavan.

The God Squad sold hugely. After 1988, nobody had the right not to know any more. The nun who mainly assaulted Paddy Doyle was insane and known to be so by locals who took no action until she was eventually locked up. What could they have done? To stand against the consensus (as Brian Quinn honourably states) takes moral courage and would probably have been futile, though Noel Browne and Austin Clarke stand out with honour.

But that doesn't mean it shouldn't have been done by people in all walks of life.

Magdalen Laundries and industrial schools (with children regarded as criminals for having parents in the poverty trap) didn't exist in limbo. Washing came in, slave labour was hired out. Many people knew it was against their interests to question the system. And in truth, most Irish people felt the inmates deserved what they got.

Whether the Church likes it or not, its decent (silently acquiescent) ranks were infested with paedophiles whose actions and immunity Frederick West could only have gasped at.

The fate of Norbertine Fr Bruno Mulvihill (who tried to blow the whistle on Brendan Smyth, and was almost as hated as Smyth was by many within the Order) shows what happened to those who didn't acquiesce. Estranged from his Order, by the time of the UTV expose of his superiors' inaction, he was surviving by selling encyclopaedias.

The fate of the once-popular broadcaster Bill Long (whose radio career has been virtually non-existent since his famous Thought for the Day remarks) is also a lesson for those who publicly confront the truism that good lay teachers covered up for bad. I've yet to hear teachers' unions discuss those thugs who lurked in their ranks, no more than I've heard garda representative bodies apologise for regimes of violence in certain 1980s Dublin stations that shocked many decent guards.

Our ``one in, all in'' culture still exists.

People talk of a dying Church, but I'm not convinced. Stripped of arrogance and authoritarian power and forced to earn respect, I see it as potentially the start of a better Church. A Church fit to ask questions of others once it has asked questions of itself. It may require the retirement of various bishops, but its day will come.

The suggested millennium monument shouldn't be a triumphalist one of Christ, but a stone erected to those who suffered untold horror inflicted in Christ's name.

Yeats said, ``From the quarrel with others we create rhetoric, from the quarrel with ourselves we create poetry.'' It's time for rhetoric to end and painful poetry to start.

Abdication of power in a State of brutality

Sunday Independent May 16th 1999

We celebrated the `boyo', banned abortion and we buggered the orphans, writes Colum Kenny

STATES of Fear, RTÉ's long-overdue investigation into industrial and `special' schools, has confirmed our darkest suspicions about the sheer nastiness of parts of our educational system. For too long, especially if you were weak and poor, you could expect to be walked all over.

Vicious beatings by teachers as well as their crude bullying and savage sarcasm became common in many Irish schools of all kinds.

The authorities instilled dread rather than respect in the hearts of children. Not surprisingly, we learn now, the most deprived members of society suffered the worst.

And while RTÉ deserves credit for making the programmes, it's not so long since RTÉ itself decided against screening an award-winning drama series about child abuse by the Irish Christian Brothers. This was The Boys of St Vincent, shown late at night on Channel 4 but rejected by RTÉ just five years ago.

The reason which RTÉ gave at the time for not acquiring The Boys of St Vincent was that anyone who wished to see the programme could have caught it on the British channel.

This was neither true nor convincing.

The Boys of St Vincent series took the lid off systematic abuse at a children's institution in Newfoundland and had a great relevance for Irish audiences.

When I first saw it at the Banff Television Festival in Alberta, I was riveted. Indeed, a clip was included in the final part of States of Fear last Tuesday night.

It is probable that the St Vincent series embarrassed RTÉ. At best, perhaps, RTÉ did not wish to be seen having a go at the popular `Brothers', to be drawing attention to an Irish failure abroad.

At worst, RTÉ was simply afraid of the influence of the Catholic Church in general and of the `Brothers' in particular. But lately the established Church has lost much of its power and it's safe now to criticise it.

`Power', in fact, is the key word in all of this. The children in Irish institutions simply had no power and, therefore, they had no rights and few people wanted them to have rights.

For years a small number of campaigners has called for various reforms in our child laws and children's services and, right up to the present, they have been regularly ignored or fobbed off.

We banned abortion and we buggered orphans.

When we got our political independence, we might have created caring and responsive institutions. After centuries of experiencing the butt of imperialism, would not the Irish Free State be different when it came to wielding power?

Unfortunately, for decades, a sort of political brutality took hold.

Cultural or aesthetic sensitivity was scorned, artists persecuted, authors banned and fine buildings ravaged. We celebrated the `boyo', while in education, the revival of Irish was attempted in a fascist and futile fashion through terror and compulsion.

When making political decisions, democracy waited outside the door and the most crude form of jobbery and gombeenism took hold.

IT was to be decades before we began to emerge from the stupor of such grossness. Recent events suggest that we are not there yet.

No State is ever completely `there' but it's the trying at least that matters. We are still muddling our way out from under the consequences of our abdication of responsibility as an independent people who surrendered politics to the fixers and gave our children to the Catholic church.

Perhaps it was ignorance made us the way we were. Those who took over the running of this State had no tradition of self-government behind them. There was an element of bluff and bluster behind their posturing and of assertion in their high-handedness.

Things might have improved sooner had an open debate about the nature of our State taken place.

But uniformity was demanded and hysterical censorship ensured that ideas were suppressed. This suited both Church and State, as did the Church's provision of clerical labour and buildings in return for the control of our children.

We patted ourselves on the back and announced that we had the best educational system in the world.

But education was reduced to learning by rote Reading, Writing and Arithmetic or the Latin and Greek classics. The State did not welcome criticism and the Church, which ran the schools and colleges, did not welcome free thought. Science and the arts were neglected.

Instead of being a wonderful humanising influence, drawing on centuries of great learning and wisdom, the Catholic Church in Ireland became a terrible, narrow presence in the lives of many Irish children, especially boys.

Vicious beatings were widespread. While the State embarked on its doomed attempts to enforce the learning of Irish by means of fear fear of failure, fear of not getting a job, fear of not belonging to the language mafia priests and other clerics beat their way through classes in every subject on the curriculum.

Not even the colloquial expression, `He beat the bejaysus out of him,' gave them a moment's pause for thought as to the long-term spiritual damage they were doing in addition to any psychological and physical harm. Spirituality was reduced to the confession by children of insignificant sexual acts, while gross sexual abuse went unchecked.

In my own school, Belvedere College ostensibly a centre of excellence for the middle-classes we had a headmaster in the secondary school whose bullying marked for life many of those who passed through his hands.

By the wielding of his leather and the savagery of his sneering comments, the headmaster (now deceased) certainly did not inculcate a love of learning.

And when he had certain boys drop their trousers to better feel his leather (a fate I escaped, I'm glad to say), there was nobody there to see that he was not acting irrationally or out of sexual frustration or simply in a bad temper. And that was one of the best schools in Ireland.

God help the poor orphans.

Of course there were oases of kindness in education and beyond it, but our institutions were generally run on the basis of authority rather than accountability.

Necessary changes are still being dragged out of a secretive State which `loses' or suppresses official reports on children's institutions.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church employs expensive public relations consultants but shows no taste for talking about the significance of what actually happened.

In the light of the publicity surrounding RTÉ's three recent programmes, the Government has responded with a limited apology and a toothless enquiry.

Perhaps the authorities are still too busy to take complaints about children that seriously.

* Dr Colum Kenny lectures in Communications at DCU.

Disgraced orders should disband

Sunday Independent May 16th 1999

There is one act of decency left to the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Charity, writes Brendan O'Connor

THROUGHOUT the recent renewed outcry over child sex abuse there has been one curious assumption that has never been challenged. This is the assumption that the Catholic Church, and specifically the various orders of that church who facilitated institutional abuse of children, should continue to exist in their present form. It is assumed that these orders have some God-given right to continue to exist.

Any other institution found to have been responsible, through negligence or otherwise, for the kind of mass scale torture perpetrated by these orders, would immediately cease operations. There does not seem to have been any question of this in the case of, say, the Christian Brothers.

As we embark on mass scale investigation, compensation and healing, it would seem obvious that the only noble, humane and indeed Christian thing for orders like the Christian Brothers to do is to disband immediately. Instead, the Christian Brothers continue to oversee the education of a new generation of children.

Following the revelations in the final States Of Fear programme on Tuesday night, the Sisters of Charity should also instantly disband. It is not only the honourable reaction, it is the only one that can do justice to those who had their lives ruined by the entity known as Sisters of Charity.

Tuesday's programme detailed systematic abuse in two homes run by the Sisters of Charity the infamous Madonna House and St Joseph's in Kilkenny. The Kilkenny story, as told on States Of Fear tainted yet another Irish institution in that it suggested that Sister Stanislaus Kennedy, who ran a childcare course in Kilkenny at the time, had been aware of sexual abuse at St Joseph's in the Seventies.

Sr Stan's version of the story, as told on Wednesday, was that she was aware only of physical abuse at St Joseph's. And that at the time, ``physical abuse was all over the place. We all knew that.'' A worker in St Joseph's approached Sr Stan with concerns about a co-worker, Miles Brady (who was, as it happens, a child sex abuser). Sr Stan advised the worker to go to the management of St Joseph's with his concerns. The man took his complaint to the management and the abuser was apparently dismissed. However, the person who made the complaint subsequently left St Joseph's, apparently unhappy that insufficient action had been taken. Sr Stan did not pursue the matter further as the system in place at the time dictated that people not interfere in other people's areas because ``things became confused if several people were messing in things.'' Sr Stan was not connected to St Joseph's in any professional capacity.

In a statement to Gardai 20 years later Sr Stan apparently spoke of suspicions of sexual abuse. She clarified this on Wednesday by explaining that she was merely wondering aloud in retrospect, while chatting with the Gardai, ``Gosh, I wonder was there sexual abuse?''

Sr Stan also pointed out that there was no system in place for dealing with sexual abuse at the time. It was never mentioned in the childcare training course she co-directed at the time, she said, and there would certainly have been nowhere to go with a complaint of child sex abuse. She characterised childcare at the time as an area in which there were, ``no regulations, no systems, no guidelines. They ran them (the institutions) to the best of their ability with inadequate resources.'' She pointed out repeatedly that the Government took no responsibility in the matter. Nobody, it seems, was responsible, least of all the Sisters of Charity.

We have heard many of these excuses before. It was sad to hear even Sr Stan trot out what has become the Church's standard line that of abdication of responsibility and blaming anyone but the Church. The Church's reaction up to now has been to apologise profusely, blame the times that were in it and set up Faoiseamh, a church-sponsored counselling service for those who suffered at the hands of sadistic priests, nuns and Brothers. As one of the Goldenbridge victims pointed out on RTE's Questions and Answers last week, it is unacceptable that people should be required to go back to the source of their problems in order to seek healing.

One of the Catholic Church's major stumbling blocks in this country has been an incredible arrogance. The Church that now dismisses these scandals by throwing up its hands and admitting its own humanity was arrogant enough to think, in the recent past, that only it was fit to care for all these children. The unquestioning awe and fear that supported this arrogance grew partly from the fact that the Church effectively controlled everyone's mind through its stranglehold on education.

This awe disappeared fairly quickly when we learned that the Church as an institution was all too fallible. Somehow the arrogance has survived despite everything. A senior person in any other organisation simply wouldn't dare take as long to answer serious questions, as some bishops have over the treatment of sex abusers in their dioceses. It is a similar arrogance that allows organisations like the Christian Brothers to survey the horror of what they've done, issue a heartfelt apology and then to carry on teaching as if nothing happened.

This issue is a complex one. Much of the evil done by these institutions came from individuals within them. But the investigations are showing up organisations that were deeply dysfunctional and deeply negligent. By all means let us have the feel-good solution of the truth commission. But the only way we can truly close this thing is first, to make sure that those who are guilty are punished or treated, as the case may be.

Secondly the organisations responsible must be dismantled. It is a continuing insult to all those who suffered that these entities still exist.

If we are to believe the hype, it is to be a time of fresh starts for this country. For the Church, let the first symbol of this be the dismantling of the shamed organisations within it. Let no religious continue to disgrace the faith and mock the innocents who suffered, by carrying, in the name of Our Lord, the name Christian Brother, or Sister of Mercy, or Sister of Charity or Brother of Charity ... the list goes on.

© Irish Independent &

Wednesday, February 10, 1999

Two years for "former" Christian Brother

Wednesday February 10th 1999 Retired teacher and "former" Christian Brother Donal Dunne is led from court yesterday after being sentenced to two years in jail for sexually abusing boys at two schools in the midlands A "former" Christian Brother was jailed for two years yesterday for sexually abusing boys at two midlands schools. He has admitted similar offences at four other schools. The Circuit Court in Tullamore, Co Offaly was told 78-year-old Donal Dunne had acknowledged abusing boys at two Dublin city primary schools and at schools in counties Longford and Westmeath. Dunne of Portarlington, Co Offaly was before the court for sentencing on 16 counts of indecent assaults committed against six boys between 1965 and 1969 at Walsh Island National School, Co Offaly and similar offences committed against a boy at the Presentation Sisters Secondary School in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny in the early 1970s. He had a previous conviction for sexual abusing a 12-year-old boy in 1995 and Judge Anthony Kennedy said it was thoroughly alarming that Dunne committed this offence when aged 74.


It also emerged during the hearing that Dunne said was sexually abused as a child. His counsel William Fennelly said it was a feature of such cases that all too often the abuser was a victim of abuse at some stage in his own life. Det Sgt Michael Dalton, Tullamore said contact was made with him following publication of Dunne's name after hearing in November of a case involving three victims who had been abused by defendant at schools in Co Longford and Dublin. The court heard that one boy, aged 12 at the time, was asked to go to a church adjacent to the school to pick up some items but was followed by Dunne who proceeded to sexually abuse him in the choir loft. He abused the boy on two other occasions in a sport's changing room asking his victim to try on togs, then removing the boy's clothes before fondling him. State prosecutor Dara Foynes said quite a lot of additional activities on accused's part had come to notice following media coverage and publication of his name last November. The court also heard Dunne acknowledged responsibility for abuses he committed at four other schools since he pleaded guilty: at Griffith Avenue and St James Street, Dublin; Mullingar CBS, Co Westmeath and Lanesboro National School, Co Longford.

However, extracts from a psychological assessment report read out by Judge Anthony Kennedy revealed accused had ``no regrets'' for what he did. It also said he would not survive long in prison. In effect, said the judge, the only real mitigating factor was Dunne pleaded guilty. But Mr Fennelly said in mitigation his client made the admissions of abuses at other schools openly and at some peril to himself. The court heard that a Garda investigation is under way into a prank played on Dunne in which, accused claimed, he was phoned by a person pretending to be Detective Dalton, asking that he bring £10,000 cash to the county registrar's office in Mullingar. Passing sentence, Judge Kennedy said defendant had a history of a protracted and premeditated campaign of sexual molestation. He exploited the children's innocence and vulnerability resulting in obvious short term and long-term damage, and all done for his own perversion and sexual excitement. He sentenced Dunne to two years imprisonment and refused leave to appeal.

SCHOOL principal Donal Dunne was a teacher for 45 years during which time he destroyed the innocence of schoolboys trusted into his care at as many as six schools. But it was a sexual assault on a 12-year-old boy committed long after his retirement that finally caused the former Christian Brother's past to catch up with him. That incident happened only four years ago when Dunne, married but without a family, sexually abused a young boy whose family he had befriended. The matter was prosecuted in 1996 and soon after a victim from his days at Walsh Island National School decided to call time on the sexually depraved teacher.
Victims of the Portarlington, Co Laois based offender were left isolated and vulnerable throughout their ordeal and attempts to raise the matter with Dunne's superiors were at all times dismissed. One 13-year-old taught by Dunne in Co Kilkenny was first suspended, then expelled from the school after complaining to school authorities. Donal Dunne's pattern of sexual abuses was as cunning as it was heinous, with the same modus operandi in all cases.

Once his victim was identified, Dunne would ingratiate himself with the boy's family or mentors, gain their confidence and inevitably attempt to visit himself on his intended victim. ``He was very cunning and very manipulative,'' said a victim from his days at a school run by the Presentation nuns in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny. Donal Dunne began his teaching career as a 21-year-old Christian Brother at Scoil Mhuire, Marino, Dublin in July 1940. He moved on to CBS, Mullingar in July 1947, then to James Street, Dublin in July 1953. He apparently left the Brothers in 1957 and was appointed a lay teacher at Lanesboro National School, Co Longford on May 13 that year. He remained there until September 1960 when he transferred to Ballyfermot where he taught at two schools, including Scoil Banrian Na nAingeal, before returning to the countryside in January 1964 to take up an appointment at Rath National School, Brittas, Co Laois.

His fateful appointment to Walsh Island near Tullamore took effect from July 1st 1966. There he proceeded to abuse a number of boys six of whom made the statements two years ago that brought about his conviction. Matters came to a head at Walsh Island in May 1969 when parents became aware of the abuses. Dunne left the school suddenly but with what Garda sources confirmed as a ``glowing reference'' from the then parish priest and chairman of school board of management in his hand.

With his past history seemingly buried and with the aid of the reference that effectively amounted to a licence to continue his abuse, he took up employment at a secondary school in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny run by the Presentation Sisters.

There again, the perverted teacher was unable to contain his twisted sexual urges. At the end of six years he chose yet another young victim ... but the wrong one.
``He stepped on the wrong toe,'' another victim from the Kilkenny school told the Irish Independent. ``He followed this young boy home and pushed him against the wall of the technical school. But the young fellow told his father, who went straight to the school authorities and told them they had 12 hours to get rid of Donal Dunne.'' Like Walsh Island, Dunne's lechery at the Kilkenny school did not catch up with him until 1996 when a victim since emigrated made a statement to gardai after watching a TV documentary on sex abuse in Kilkenny. Some 27 names of boys at the school were handed over to gardai, 20 of whom were affected one way or the other, either from sexual or physical abuse by their feared teacher. ``Of the 20 approached, only two were prepared to sign a statement,'' the victim who made the initial complaint recalled.

``All 20 admitted they were abused, or knew of abuses. But none were prepared to sign because they didn't want to bring it all back, or it could affect their lives today. I have had several calls over the last three months from old school pals. Some are suffering traumatically.'' The victim himself lived in denial for 20 years. He led a normal and very successful life but all that changed when he decided to confronted his dark, harrowing past. Two years ago he was happily married with three children, had a very successful career with an international corporate body, enjoying a $125,000 annual salary. Now his marriage is gone, as is his career. Today he gets counselling to help him battle the memory of a three-year sexual abuse ordeal but still admits he is very much in denial and does not truly believe what happened to him.

``I lived for the last 20 years without ever thinking about it. Since I made the statement I have a massive sleep disorder which has been determined by a doctor as sleep avoidance. Today the sun is shining for me, but many days it doesn't. Rationally, I am coming to terms with it. I respect the people I am taking to about it but emotionally I cannot bring myself to accept it and don't actually believe it. No one believed us at the time either. I reported it to a nun that I got on well with. But do you know what she said when I told her: she said `Go away boy, you must be possessed. Basically what he did was he stole the innocence of these children. The experts tell me that what I need to happen is to receive a public apology. They say that will help.''