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, August 11, 2007

Report vital if Church to be held accountable for actions

There have been three events of some significance since my article, a fortnight ago, about Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and the 1962 Report on Artane by Father Henry Moore.

The first and most important concerns the Archbishop. In response to a letter that Jim Beresford sent him, dated July 29 and referring to the article, the Archbishop promised that an immediate copy would be sent to him by registered post. It has not yet arrived, but this may be the fault of the Royal Mail which has been disrupted by an industrial dispute.The second, reported to me by Irish SOCA, is that an unspecified number of lawyers acting for abused people have filed for discovery of the Father Moore Report as important testimony in respect of their proceedings. The third event -- on the face of it the least important -- was an anonymous postcard among my mail which said: "How about your Collected Musings, ie 'The Child Abuser's Bedside Book', save you all those instalments." There was no address, so I cannot reply directly; it touched a raw nerve, however. It also made me conscious yet again that a whole Church, with many good and admirable sides to it, is being correctly held accountable for the serious damage done to maybe 30,000 Irish men and women who are the survivors, and many more who are now dead.

It was done once, when they were children, and this was bad enough. Far worse is the fact that it is being done all over again by Church and State in the cover-up that has gone on for the past eight years. These, including those I deal with, have lived for up to 80 years with that shadow over their lives. My concern for them is not unmixed with recognition that each revelation affects many others as well. In the Archbishop's letter to Jim Beresford, Diarmuid Martin said: "There was never any intention on my part to hide the document which has effectively been in the public domain for some years through it being provided to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. It was my understanding that the Commission would make the document available to any interested party at a time considered appropriate."

The Archbishop should know that none of this is the case. Father Moore's Report has never been in the public domain and there is no record of the Commission making it available to any party, interested or otherwise. Quite the reverse is the case.

On five occasions in the past two years the Father Moore Report on Artane has been the subject of questioning before the Commission. These were in September 2005 and in May and June of 2006. The extensive evidence in September 2005, given by a Christian Brother, Michael Reynolds, was essentially hearsay. He relied on "documentation" and claimed that this "seemed to suggest" that Archbishop McQuaid asked the chaplain to make the report. A garbled version was then accepted of what happened. What actually happened was as follows: Moore was appointed chaplain by the Archbishop with the subsidiary responsibility for reporting on what was happening in Artane and he delivered this report in November 1962. He then referred to it when he appeared before the Interdepartmental Committee on Crime Prevention and Treatment of Offenders. This had been set up by Charles Haughey. Artane was in his constituency. It was chaired by Peter Berry, Secretary of the Department of Justice.

Moore's Report, and the verbal testimony he gave, enraged Tarlach O'Raifeartaigh, Secretary of the Department of Education, who was also on the Committee. O'Raifeartaigh constantly interrupted Moore but Berry, to his credit, insisted on Moore being heard. O'Raifeartaigh gave Moore such a rough ride that the priest left the committee room shaking. Later, Archbishop McQuaid complained about this to the Department of Education. O'Raifeartaigh sent his inspectors to Artane, the visit announced in advance to the Christian Brothers there, and they arrived on December 20, 1962. The purpose of their visit was clearly to discredit Moore's complaints. Their own inspection report discounted or dismissed Moore's work.

We know, from fragments, what the report contained. He told the Archbishop about the staff, salaries and the old and decrepit state of the buildings. He described the conditions for the boys. "They are badly clothed. They have no overcoats, only rain capes. They have no vests and no change of footwear or socks. Sometimes the boys' shoes are too small and give them sore feet. Bedclothes are inadequate, the boys are undernourished and the medical facilities are appaling."

To his credit, though not to his advantage, Father Moore repeated this and much more to the Inter-departmental committee. Understandably, O'Raifeartaigh, whose Department of Education was entirely responsible, was apoplectic. The testimony given before Judge Sean Ryan has covered none of this. Greater emphasis has been given to the Inspection Report, engineered by O'Raifeartaigh, rather than to Father Moore's Report. The Department of Education visitors did a white-wash on Artane and ever since, the Father Moore Report has been effectively suppressed. All the exchanges before the Commission confirm this, with the added indignity that Moore, for offences four decades later, has had these brought up at the Commission -- without being ruled out of order by the Judge, which he should have done, since they are totally unrelated -- in order to further discredit the Moore Report.

It is clear that we still have a long way to go.

Irish Independen Saturday August 11 2007