A member of the Christian Brothers' order confirmed in evidence that one of the brothers who taught at the school was believed to have physically assaulted young boys in three industrial schools. The brother first came to attention in 1956 at St Joseph's in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, when he reportedly pulled a clump of hair out of a boy's head.
He later moved to Tralee in Co Kerry and then later to Glin in Co Limerick where in the early 1960s he reportedly broke a young boy's jaw during one attack.
None of the assaults were ever reported to gardaí. The Christian Brothers finally took the man out of school in 1969. A spokesman for the Christian Brothers told the commission there was no excuse for its inaction in allowing the man to have contact with children for so long.
A Christian Brother who broke a child's jaw was allowed to carry on teaching for nearly a decade, it emerged today. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is examining allegations about St Joseph's Industrial School in Tralee, which was run by the Christian Brothers up until 1970. Brian McGovern SC, representing the tribunal, said there had been documented complaints about a Brother who had been moved to the school despite a series of horrific complaints against him. The man known as Brother X broke the jaw of a child he was teaching at the Christian Brothers Industrial School in Glin, Co Limerick, in 1961, after earlier pulling hair from a child's head and beating boys with a leather strap at another Christian Brothers school in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
He was then moved on to St Joseph's where he continued to teach. Mr McGovern asked Br Seamus Nolan of the Christian Brothers if the failure to remove him from teaching duties immediately showed a remarkably uncaring attitude by the Order. "It certainly does. The efforts made weren't sufficient. It isn't good enough," he said. He told the commission that to his knowledge the gardaí were not informed about the Brother's activities and that although the Department of Education was aware of him, it eased off after he was eventually removed. Other Brothers had warned as far back as 1960 that Brother X was unable to control his temper and was capable of doing the most foolish things. He was eventually removed from classroom duties in 1969 and transferred to a Christian Brothers institution in Dublin. There were eight deaths of boys at St Joseph's including that of Joseph Pike in 1958. The young boy died in hospital due to pneumonia but had earlier received a severe beating from a Christian Brother at the school.
St Joseph's received a limited amount of funding from the State and was forced to make up the shortfall through other activities carried out by its staff and pupils, such as farming, carpentry and bakery. Br Nolan said that in the 100 years of St Joseph's existence the effort of generosity by the staff there lasted throughout. He said there had been regular inspections which showed, by and large, there was great satisfaction all round and added that some of the surviving Brothers were still friends with the former pupils. "So it wasn't all a grim and bleak story though the building may have given that impression from the outside," he said. However the commission is investigating several complaints of sexual abuse made against Brothers who worked in the school.
One complainant, John Glynn (60), said he had entered the school in 1949 at the age of two and was sexually abused by a Brother after his first Communion. "What disgusted me today was that there wasn't any word of apology. I just find it horrendous they're still hiding, that the cover-up is still there and that we still have to keep speaking out," he said. Mr Glynn plans to give evidence to the commission about the one surviving Brother who abused him.
A representative of the Sisters of Mercy has emotionally apologised to former residents of St Joseph's Industrial School in Dundalk who suffered abuse while in the care of the order.Sr Anne Marie McQuaid was speaking as the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse began holding hearings into abuse at the Co Louth facility and two other industrial schools in Clifden and Tralee. Sr McQuaid said the Sisters of Mercy were shocked when they learned in October 1999 that some former residents had been mistreated in Dundalk.
She acknowledged that life in St Joseph's in the 1950s and 1960s was very institutional in nature, that the building was inadequate and that children had been slapped. She then fought back tears as she apologised wholeheartedly to anyone who had experienced physical or emotional case while in the care of her order. The commission is due to begin hearing private evidence about the abuse that took place in Dundalk, Clifden and Tralee later this week.