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.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Deliver Us from Evil

When Amy Berg decided to hang out a shingle and produce feature documentaries two years ago, she wasn't quite sure what subject might both consume her interest and hit a nerve with audiences. Berg, a Los Angeles native, began her career in local radio, moved into local news at KCBS and segued to a gig producing investagative reports for CNN. She received Emmys for a sports documentary and a social profile set in South Central L.A. In those jobs, she'd also done close to a dozen reports on the sex scandals that wracked California's Catholic dioceses over the past decade.

"The subject had become like mother's milk to me," said Berg. "It's just so complex and despite this wall of silence, or at least lack of cooperation from the church, the leaks continue to reveal details that are shocking and alarming." An associate had given Berg a phone number for one Father Oliver O'Grady and she decided to make a blind call to him. A convicted pedophile, he had moved back to Ireland to escape scrutiny. She knew him only from criminal records and imagined him as some sort of monster preying on the vulnerability of children.

"That first call still sticks with me," she says. "He answers the phone, 'hello and good evening,' with such warmth, you'd think you were encountering some delightful, impish leprechaun."

If not precisely a profile of O'Grady, her feature documentary Deliver Us from Evil - which premiered Saturday at the Los Angeles Film Festival - situates him at its center. For good and ill, he is its soul. Berg puts it more simply: "There would be no film without O'Grady."

There's no denying that the priest, who worked in several North California parishes, has a seductive personality and the filmmaker admits she had to watch that she didn't fall under his spell. Berg points out that he honed a well-craft rationalization for his predatory behavior but was not blind to the fact that he relished the attention; perhaps even gloried in it. "He'd ask me questions about Cardinal (Roger) Mahoney (of Los Angeles) and other things to test the waters," she recalls. "He feels safely away from it all in Ireland and besides, he keeps a low profile.

Berg personally financed a trip to see meet O'Grady. Months later, she made another trip and in eight days shot the interview footage. Armed with that material she proceeded to secure the private financing that allowed her to make the movie. The rest of the film is culled from available news material and extensive interviews with three of O'Grady's victims, their families, and their emotional and legal support teams. Deliver Us from Evil's emotional potency derives largely from putting a human face on decades of looking away from this crisis by the church.

O'Grady hasn't seen the film and, in fact, he's had no contact with Berg since shortly after conducting the interviews. After finding out about O'Grady's participation, his brother - an Irish entertainer - advised him in no uncertain terms not to speak again with the filmmaker. She's been told that he's now taking computer training, but to what end remains a msytery.

Berg couldn't be more pleased about the audience response during the opening weekend of the festival. She says that she wrestled with bowing the film at the Tribeca fest or in Ireland but the public and industry reaction at LAFF more than validated her decision to premiere the film where the story would have the greatest resonance.

- - - - -

By Gina Piccalo, Times Staff Writer
As he describes his pedophilic urges, Oliver O'Grady, a former priest who for about 20 years fondled and raped children from his Central California parishes, stands in a Dublin, Ireland, park smiling, noting casually as a small red-headed boy walks right behind him. He lives nearby, alone and unchecked by police, though O'Grady served seven years in a California prison for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy in the mid-1990s. Nearby, a playground is visible.

This is just one of many chilling moments from "Deliver Us From Evil," a new documentary directed by investigative news producer Amy Berg that premiered Saturday to a sellout crowd at the Los Angeles Film Festival and screens again tonight. Chilling too are the reasons that O'Grady agreed to be interviewed on camera: He wants to force L.A. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony and other church officials to acknowledge they knew of his abuse and transferred him to a new parish every time a family complained — allegations that Berg tries to substantiate with victim and police interviews and church correspondence — despite their promises to keep O'Grady away from kids.

"I should have been removed and attended to and [Mahony] then should also have followed up by attending to the people I had harmed," O'Grady tells Berg in the film.

"Deliver Us" comes years after the priest sex abuse scandals broke in Los Angeles and other cities, but Berg feels there's too little said about the church's reluctance to take responsibility for the crimes. As an investigative news producer, Berg spent four years on the story for CBS News and CNN Investigations. In her film, she uses personal letters, police reports and as yet unaired deposition footage to suggest Mahony has not been forthcoming and show what she believes is the criminal neglect — what one psychologist from the film called "spiritual abuse" — by Roman Catholic Church officials.

During the last two years, she traveled to Ireland twice to interview O'Grady and followed two of his victims to Rome in their failed attempt to get an apology from the pope. She sifted through hours of videotaped testimony from Mahony and other church officials, footage in which they deny any knowledge of the abuse despite an increasingly thick church file of complaints against the priest. It was just one of many moments during the screening that elicited loud reaction from the audience — in this case, groans.

"Deliver Us" is one of the 15 documentaries the International Documentary Assn. will help qualify for Oscar consideration. There's much interest in Ireland, where O'Grady was born and raised. It will screen at the Cork Film Festival this year, and Berg hopes to bring it to Rome. The last time she spoke to O'Grady, six months ago, Berg said he was terrified of the fallout the film would bring to his life.

During a Q&A session after the screening, the director was asked what reaction, if any, she had gotten from Mahony or the church. "His attorneys came to my attorneys' office and watched it last week," she said. "I was told they were somber when they left."

In the film, Mahony appears in a November 2004 videotaped deposition denying, under oath, any knowledge of O'Grady's crimes, contending he hardly knew the man. Though Mahony hasn't seen the documentary, spokesman Tod Tamberg confirmed that he and attorneys for Mahony and the church viewed it Thursday. Tamberg in a statement said Berg's film "quickly loses its bearing in a squall of anti-church tirades by lawyers who have a huge financial stake in sex abuse litigation against the church." He accuses Berg of staging O'Grady's actions and allowing him "self-serving comments" until "one begins to get the uneasy feeling that the molester-as-master-manipulator is having one last sick and twisted joke at everyone's expense."

Berg says the film is just her way of circumventing the church's stonewalling to get the story out.

"I don't consider myself an activist," said Berg. "I'm not Catholic. And I wasn't raped by a priest. The reason I did this film is that it was one of those stories that every time it was about to air [on TV], somehow the church convinced the lawyers to stall it from airing.... I was interested in that. And the more I researched it, the more I investigated it, the more of a story it was."

Berg lives in a modest Santa Monica apartment with her son Spencer and a little dog named Lucy. One of her Emmys for a CBS-2 segment on extreme sports sits atop a dresser in the center of her living room. On the inside of her front door, a small note reminds her to "pay rent." She's an L.A. native, though reluctant to share too much personal information, she said, so as not to give the Catholic Church any ammunition.

Berg said she realized the story was too big for a TV segment after the L.A. Diocese's repeated resistance to a 12-minute CNN piece in 2004. She got O'Grady's phone number from a researcher for one of the victim's attorneys and cold-called him. He was jovial and candid, she said, and so they spent months talking weekly, conversations that O'Grady let Berg record.

"He seemed to be very upset about the fact that the people who covered up his abuse were still in such powerful positions while he was basically defrocked and abandoned," said Berg.

After initial reservations, O'Grady agreed to go on camera, and in early 2005, Berg went to Ireland, where she spent eight days — six hours each day — listening as he detailed his sexual abuse. In the film, O'Grady appears to be enjoying himself, smiling brightly as he describes confessing to another priest his attraction to children. When it was over, Berg said, the horror of what she'd heard finally hit her.

"The last two days of my trip I stayed in my hotel room in Dublin, and I couldn't get out of bed," said Berg. "I was like achy and sweaty. It was like a physical and emotional breakdown."

Three of O'Grady's victims, Ann Jyono, Nancy Sloan and a young man identified as "Adam," agreed to share their stories on camera. They describe their families as devout Catholics who trusted O'Grady implicitly. He regularly spent the night with the Jyonos and took Sloan on unsupervised trips. In Adam's case, he became romantically involved with his mother before he began molesting Adam. "He had total control of us because he was at our school, he was at home, he was at church," said Jyono in the film. "In a Catholic lifestyle, what else is left? What areas of my life was he not at?"

O'Grady's transfers began in the mid-1970s after Sloan's mother confronted Stockton Bishop Joseph Guilfoyle, who is now deceased. Guilfoyle, Sloan said, promised the family he would relocate O'Grady to a monastery, so the Sloans didn't press charges. Instead, O'Grady was transferred to another parish.

Two years later, when Mahony was made bishop of Stockton, another family, identified in the film as the "Howards," threatened to sue the church for O'Grady's abuse of their sons. Mahony has said he had no idea of the nature of the abuse. "I told him he was to cease and desist any more contact with Mrs. Howard or the Howard family," testified Mahony in November 2004. "He promised to do so, and I never had another report about him and the Howards."

O'Grady was transferred again, this time to Stockton. In 1984, O'Grady's therapist reported him to the Stockton police, alleging sexual contact with a 9-year-old boy. When the police threatened to press charges, Berg's film asserts, church officials promised to relocate O'Grady to a job that kept him away from children. Instead, O'Grady was transferred to a San Andreas parish where he was the sole priest in charge. At the time, church authorities didn't tell police of the abuse reported years earlier. Mahony said in deposition footage in the film that he had no knowledge of the incident.

In a March 2005 deposition, Msgr. James Cain, the former vicar general of Stockton, explained the church's reasons for withholding information by saying, "One was a girl. It was inappropriate touching. The other was a boy, [O'Grady] said. So I just didn't hook them up in my own mind."

Cain was asked by the Jyonos' attorney John Manly during the same deposition: "If it had come to your attention that Father O'Grady told your vicar general that he had sexual urges toward a 9-year-old boy or a 10-year-old or an 11-year-old — is that cause to remove him from ministry?"

"No," responded Cain.

Berg tried, without success, for more than a year to get an interview with Mahony. And she said she made it a point not to editorialize, though it's hard to walk away from the film with a positive feeling toward the church's actions.

"Everyone's words speak to their merits and detriments on their own," she said.

The film, which went into the festival without a distributor, had sparked interest by Sunday, Berg said, although no deal had been finalized by press time.

- - - - -

Sunday, June 25, 2006

ISPCC colluded in the sanctified abuse of children

PUBLIC HEARING: Paul Gilligan of the ISPCC was questioned last week by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

THERE is a horrible irony in the old Dublin terminology used for officers from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, now the Irish Society, formerly the National Society. They were known as the "cruelty men", while officials and volunteers with the Society of St Vincent de Paul were known as "the poverty men".

We have been accustomed to look with pride at the work done by the NSPCC and its successor. Even when made painfully aware of our national shortcomings in relation to the way children were mistreated in the past, we saw the Society as disinterested, committed, decent, caring with total probity for the welfare of the nation's disadvantaged children. But last week we have been made aware of the reality. And we are forced to ask if children were ever safe in this hellhole called Ireland?

The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was questioning the current chief executive of the ISPCC at the public hearing of the commission's investigation committee. Paul Gilligan told the committee of the shame attached to unmarried women who gave birth. But there were no statistics as to how many of those women "gave away" their children in order to distance themselves from the stigma: the category ofillegitimacy was not used in institutions.

Why should it be? All of the children committed to those bleak prisons were treated as isolated numbers. They were not members of the community at large, much less the community of a family or that phrase so beloved of the religious in former years, "the communion of saints". Children, even those born in wedlock, could be removed from a loving family home because of the complaint of a spiteful neighbour when the parents' crime was merely poverty. Even sorrow became a crime, as children were committed because a father had died and the mother was destitute, or a mother had died and a father was emotionally destitute and unable to care for his children.

And then there were the children who never had a father, save in the biological sense. One woman told of her children being taken away when a nosy neighbour reported to the authorities that she was unmarried. She told it in a letter produced to the Commission by her son, one of those children removed from her side when he was only two years old. The children were "taken into care" by the NSPCC, which then committed them to an industrial school. The two-year-old remained there until he was 16.

And the NSPCC, far from stepping in on behalf of the children, eagerly co-operated in this process. There was even then plenty of anecdotal evidence that the industrial schools offered inducements to the "poverty men" to keep the supply of children coming. They got a capitation grant for the care and education (!) of each of the children committed to them.

And of course, the children were handy sources of cheap labour. This was at a time when such education as the children received would tell them of the horrors of the British Empire, which consigned small children to the workhouse, from where they were sold as slaves to chimney sweeps and undertakers. In contrast, these little Irish slaves stolen from their parents were told they were fortunate and, of course, destined for eternal salvation.

But the authorities knew nothing of this. How could they? The State was a noble one, operating entirely for the benefit of the children's present and future welfare. But the man who told the Commission of the years in his life between the ages of two and 16 said that his mother wrote to the authorities. He was still able to read her heartfelt and heartbroken letter. Her children were ill-treated and suffering in the school the State had given them to, she wrote. She wanted them back; she loved them. When they came home for holidays, they were ill from hunger, filthy and frightened. But the State sent them back to "school". Their home was a place of moral degradation: their mother was unmarried.

And the NSPCC was a willing participant in all of this. There was (and apparently is) reason to believe that at least some of its "officers" took the "inducements" to recommend the handing over of children to the industrial schools. Inducements: money. And while the ethos of the society proclaimed that they followed up on their cases, the reality was that the children were locked behind the walls of the industrial schools and forgotten.

And the State allowed this non-statutory agency, a voluntary organisation, to wield such power. And the State knew: it had at least one agonised letter which in a just world would have triggered a statutory national inquiry. Anyway, what use would an inquiry have been? In the Ireland of the time, an unsanctified home put a child in moral danger. And there are people who still believe that.

And that man and his late mother's letter were representative, Paul Gilligan said, of 70 per cent of referrals to the Society. Seventy per cent of referrals came from members of the public, and the NSPCC could act arbitrarily. They frequently did. And between one and three per cent of these children were committed to industrial schools. Committed without hope of redress, no matter what their ages, until they were 16 years old, and then turned out on the world, uneducated and adrift, without any emotional support. And in admirably neutral language, Mr Gilligan said there "was no evidence the society engaged in either thinking about or providing aftercare for such children".

But then, why should it? The Society's operatives were well-trained: they too had been brought up under the sway of the all-powerful religious: they saw no reason to question the system that gave the Religious Orders rights beyond those even of the children's parents. They had been reared to think that illegitimacy was the stain of Satan, and that an unmarried mother or a poor mother was an unfit mother. Just as a child being reared within a sanctified Catholic marriage was being reared correctly: children needed chastising, so beatings by those who wore wedding rings and went to Sunday or even daily Mass were merely justified punishments, not to be interfered with under the Constitutional status of "the family".

And the State colluded. Its operatives too, our TDs and Ministers, had been reared dutifully. They served a State whose first action had been to dedicate its service to the Vatican, where men who violated children's bodies were protected and promoted.

There is a horror in what we have been hearing at the Commission, a horror of inevitability and a chain incapable of being broken. With every piece of evidence, that hopeless chain is seen to have tightened its grip on the Ireland of the very recent past, forcing it to turn away from the "godless" outside world, a world where the State's Gothic imprisonment of helpless children might be criticised.

And nobody, nobody, nobody turned on the Frankenstein that was Catholic Ireland. Still nobody has turned: there are few voices saying that this baleful influence must be removed forever. They still talk about the individual good in priests, nuns and brothers; it is as though the monstrosity of the corporate cancer is too terrible to contemplate. State and Church, acting as one, corrupting even a voluntary service dedicated to the protection of children.

Can we go lower?
Emer O'Kelly Sunday Independent June 25 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Striking Back

Great to see survivors striking back

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Church denial of truth over abuse must end

It is time the Catholic Church and its apologists acknowledged the scale of what happened at the Daingean and Lusk reformatories, writes Patsy McGarry, Religious Affairs Correspondent

The most obdurate of the religious congregations which managed residential institutions for children will appear before the investigation committee of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse today. They, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Ireland, managed St Conleth's reformatory at Daingean in Co Offaly and Scoil Mhuire in Lusk, Co Dublin. A total of 322 abuse complaints have been made by former residents of both.

Appearing before the committee in May 2005, the congregation's Fr Michael Hughes strongly rejected allegations of serious sexual and physical abuse at Daingean. Concerning allegations of sexual abuse by staff there, he said "immoral, impure conduct", strictly forbidden at the reformatory, "was a problem among the boys".

And on physical abuse? "The punishment was very, very severe, but I feel it would be an injustice to the men of the time to say it was abuse," he said. No punishment books - required by law - had survived from there.

He didn't know why.

He was aware of concerns expressed by members of the Kennedy Committee, which inspected Daingean in 1968, at the administration of corporal punishment to boys' bare buttocks and that the then resident manager Fr McGonagle appeared to accept the value of such punishment as "more humiliating".

Fr McGonagle, he said, had denied acknowledging the added value of such humiliation, though he did not deny boys so punished were naked with their shirts pulled up. Fr Hughes accepted as "an honest statement of what was observed" a 1966 report which said corporal punishment at Daingean was "used frequently. When it is used it is very severe and in my opinion cannot in any circumstances be justified".

He disputed complaints that the boys were not fed properly and disagreed with an internal Department of Education memo which said there was "shameful neglect" of the boys' education and that they were being made use of as labourers.

He disputed findings by the Kennedy Committee on Daingean that the boys were "dirty and unkempt", that showers at Daingean were "rusted and disintegrating" through lack of use, and that toilets were "dirty and unsanitary". He contrasted those Kennedy findings with a "very careful" 1966 report from a Dr Lysaght.

He disagreed with Justice Seán Ryan, chairman of the committee, that it seemed "eccentric" to accept the findings of one report and reject those of the other.

The hearing was also told six Oblate Brothers at Daingean had nervous breakdowns between 1964 and 1969. Fr Hughes agreed men under such stress "might snap and become abusive", though he felt they "were [ now] being treated very unfairly".

Fr Hughes blamed the shortcomings at Daingean on the poor level of State funding. Yet in 1955, after a visit there, the secretary of the Department of Education described Daingean as "Dickensian" and said conditions in which its cows were kept were considerably better than those for the boys. He added: "I am of the opinion that very handsome profits are made on the farm, but I can see no evidence of any of the profits being ploughed back for the benefit of the boys."

You might say, in light of so much documented and objective evidence, that Fr Hughes is somewhat deluded where Daingean is concerned. That is for the commission to decide. But, if so, Fr Hughes is not unique.

Where some bishops, priests and many among the "our-church-right-or-wrong" brigade are concerned there is a similar tendency. For example, they have been using one statistic from the Savi Report (Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland), published in 2002 by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, with unseemly regularity for the last four years.

As recently as May 27th, Breda O'Brien trotted it out on these pages in criticism of Vincent Browne. "He is aware that only 3 per cent of sexual abuse is carried out by religious or clergy. Yet how many programmes have focused on the other 97 per cent?" she asked.

That "3 per cent" is in fact 3.2 per cent. The same Savi Report found that 2.5 per cent of abuse was by fathers.

It means that religious or clergy (ie, diocesan priests, priests in religious congregations, and brothers) as a social cohort are more than 1.25 times more likely to abuse than biological fathers.

Indeed, from what is known, there is little to suggest any other relevant social cohort - teachers, social or care workers - reach such levels when it comes to abuse. Ignorance of this, wilful or otherwise, should not be indulged anymore, particularly following the welcome decision by Pope Benedict last month that the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr Marciel Maciel Degollado, be restricted in ministry on foot of allegations of sex abuse spanning decades.

It set a new example where Rome is concerned.

When that decision was announced the legionaries and their lay Regnum Christi movement issued an extraordinary statement.

It said that, following the Pope's decision, Fr Maciel had "declared his innocence and, following the example of Jesus Christ, decided not to defend himself in any way". The comparison is odious, perhaps blasphemous.

Delusion hardly comes greater, but in this instance it has been challenged, at last. While some senior figures in the Catholic Church here have shown commendable leadership on this issue it is about time that others, and their apologists, did so too. It is time they followed the example of Pope Benedict, acknowledged the elephant in the sacristy, and dealt with it.

© The Irish Times

Monday, June 05, 2006

My Blood on the Daisies

Blood on the Daisies
Originally uploaded by The Knitter.
In St. Patrick's in Kilkenny there was a game a nun used to play using a hurley stick and a sliothar. Sometimes us children were allowed to play in a green area, called the Parade, at the back of the Institution. The Parade contained swings, climbing frames, a see-saw, and benches; and woe betide any child who dared to use these. Mostly we played in the grass making chains from the daisies or clover flowers that fairly carpeted the Parade, some sat on the benches. I liked to sit on one of the concrete posts attached to the climbing frame and pretend I was driving a tractor - I always faced my "tractor" away from the Institution and I "drove" like mad to get away over the fields and to whatever lay beyond.

Anyway this nun used to hit the sliothar up the Parade and boys would chase after it and whoever got it and brought it back to the nun would get a "treat" in the shape of one of those Nice biscuits with the sprinkling of sugar on one side of it. I never took part in this game mainly because I was much younger and smaller than those boys who did take part.

When it was time to line up in our group I got down from my "tractor" and ran towards my group. The nun with the hurley then noticed my knees were dirty. One thing these nuns could NOT abide was DIRT and she started to punch me with the hand holding the sliothar - I was rigid with shock and fright, but to the nun I was obviously being sullen. She began to whack me across the legs with the hurley stick.

Such was the force of these blows that I fell onto the grass and blood spurted from my knee and covered a clump of daisies. In panic I ran from the Parade and ended up in the only sanctuary us boys had in St. Patrick's: the toilets. I went into a cubicle and sat down but more blood gushed out and I began to feel the pain in my bloodied knee and I went towards one of the exits doors. There was a trail of blood in the toilets where I had run around in panic. On the door, about head height, there was a reflective protection panel and in the reflection I could see the face of an ashen faced boy with tears rolling down his face - and very very sad eyes. I wished then I could help that boy but I couldn't. The next thing I remember is lying in bed in the dormitory and my left knee was throbbing and heavily bandaged. How long I was in that bed I don't know but soon another boy was put into the bed next to me. His leg was in plaster. Over the next (I really don't know how long) weeks I had to teach this boy the responses to the Latin mass - each day a nun would come into the dormitory and quiz him and if he failed her test I was deprived of my dinner: some green substance with carrots ot greasy cabbage added. And I did go hungry for a while - but really we were ALWAYS hungry in ....those Places.

So when Sister Una O'Neill replies to a specific allegation that a former resident saw another child being beaten "with an instrument" [ a hurley stick] : "...she accept[s] that it was what was in the memory of the man who made the allegation .... but that the sisters had no memory of it."

Let me say to her: "I've never forgotten the eyes of that little child reflected back at me in the toilets; That was actually the FIRST EVER time that I saw what I looked like. I hold the memory of teaching Latin mass responses to a boy with a broken leg deep within me - and each time I see daisies I see blood spatters on them."

So don't fucking patronise me Sister Una, you had your fucking chance to challenge me when I sat in the witness box for over an hour and gave my sworn testimony -each time the Judges went back to your legal team and offered you the chance to question me and EACH FUCKING TIME you declined to ask me any questions.

Is it strange (or instructive) the things you remember of CERTAIN incidents from such a childhood?


The sisters of charity had TWO nuns employed FULL-TIME filling in the PUNISHMENT BOOKS.

This Book had a big E&OE stamp on it's wine-coloured cover. It was stated at the commission this week that if a child wet his bed he was made to stand by his bed for 4 or 10 minutes, then he was slapped and he had to carry his own sheets down to the laundry. In a dormitory of with 100 boys no child is going to wait 5 or 10 minutes for his punishment - what actually happened was that we were lined up in single file against the wall in the dormitory and one-by-one we were taken into the nuns cubicle where our trousers were taken down and we were lashed with with a stick (sister beard) or lashed with a leather strap (sister moustache). Us children waiting in line for this PUNISHMENT were terrified and formed huddles where we tried to comfort each other - in this way we gave each other strength and courage; and our biggest fear here was that we would cry, NOT that we were going to get hit (being hit was a regular occurence) or that there was going to be pain (pain was a constant) - THAT was our fear - Crying was a NO-NO. After being hit we then had to take our sheets to the laundry where we had to load the sheets into the drum. Then we had to scoot along to our first helping of bread and dripping but, because we had being in the PUNISHMENT LINE in the dormitory, we had missed this and so we were put into the PUNISHMENT LINE in the refectory where the CYCLE OF PUNISHMENT continued. Hungry and beaten we scooted then to our "classrooms" and because we were late we were placed in the PUNISHMENT LINE and at the end of "lesson" we were caned.

So when we hear of the phrase PUNISHMENT BOOK think PLURAL. The sisters of charity and the christian are NOT missing A PUNISHMENT BOOK, they are BEREFET OF PUNISHMENT BOOKS - SEVERAL VOLUMES of these E&OE BOOKS PER MONTH.

Yes I believe that SHELVES AND SHELVES AND SHELVES of these PUNISHMENT BOOKS are deliberately "missing". How these orders could attempt justify the MINUTE AND EXACT DETAILS carefully written into into these VOLUMES and at the same time claim lack of funds and lack of staff is something we will never learn because THESE BOOKS ARE MISSING.

Allegedly ..........

Time to look at writing an entirely new constitution

Monday June 5th 2006 Irish Independent

SOMETHING more troubling than a statutory catastrophe was triggered when the Supreme Court struck down the 1935 law on the rape of minors. It has proved to be the catharsis for a plague of ills long festering and long ignored in Irish society.

In Leinster House last Friday, the government was brandishing a legislative palliative to sedate its own backbenchers' electoral panic as much as the people's anxiety over the legal repercussions of the court's ruling. This was a government-in-crisis, reacting on the hoof to public rage but, once again, failing to see the bigger picture. The thousands of citizens would abandon their plans and routines on a rare sunny bank holiday Friday to participate in hastily-organised protests across the country indicated something seriously rotten in the State of Ireland. What many of those people had to say should have the politicians very, very worried.

"They're more interested in the pay talks in Dublin Castle," complained one young woman who had been serially sexually abused as a child. Another accused the government of being more concerned with SSIAs than people. Somebody else thought Bertie Ahern's make-up budget could be better spent on caring for the aged.

The protesters - mostly women and children carrying white flowers of innocence - decried the deaths of children on school buses, the pension abuse of elderly care residents, the horrors visited on the sick in A&E units and the general impression that the most vulnerable sectors are meted out second-class treatment. The people who said these things looked healthy and wealthy - proper Celtic Tigers - but theirs were the voices of the dispossessed.

Was it only six or seven weeks ago that we were celebrating the proclamation of the Republic with a parade of shiny soldiers past the GPO? Those who celebrated with self-satisfaction that day ought to think again because, judging by the articulated isolation of those people last Friday, we are living less and less in a Republic. And more and more in a fool's paradise.

There have been disparate calls since the Supreme Court judgment for a referendum to insert a guarantee of child protection in the Constitution. But why stop there? Why not take the bull by the horns and review the Constitution in its entirety? Bunreacht na hEireann is the blueprint of the nation, of this supposed republic of equals. While the nation has galloped beyond the horizon of recognition in the last decade alone, the Constitution has been our Lot's wife, looking back and frozen.

We need to rescue it from the deep freeze of history for, in many parts, it no more reflects us than does Dorian Gray's picture. Ireland, like it or not, is a secular society of many religions and none but still Article 44.1 acknowledges that "the homage of public worship is due to Almighty God."

The preamble is written in the name of the "Most Holy Trinity" and the president's oath genuflects to God. The Constitution espouses paternalistic, Catholic social thinking. It is invoked to deny children at risk the right to directly access State services. It is haunted by the ghost of the X Case and asserts the traditional nuclear family as the only acceptable model even though gay partnerships are long past being curiosities. Article 41.2 (1), over which many women fled Dev's Fianna Fail in the 1930s - before the advent of the microwave and the centralised vacuum cleaner - is the handcuffs tying women to patriarchal stereotype.

In its day, the Constitution was a noble document. But, by the yardstick of modern Ireland, it reads like a hybrid of Home Rule and the 10 Commandments.

Bertie Ahern's commitment to the ethos of volunteerism appears genuine but it is never going to work as long as large numbers of apparently have-it-all citizens feel that some of us are regarded as more equal than others. Bunreacht na hEireann is our mission statement. Let's dust it down and make a re-declaration of the standards by which we want to live.