You'd hear the younger ones screaming during the night, the twelve and thirteen year olds. There was a night watchman who used to patrol the dormitories with an ash plant on his shoulder. You'd see him constantly bringing down that stick onto a boy in a bed with his full force, about five or six times. There were an awful lot of priests and brothers there in my time. The priests were unimpeachable, they beat the boys with complete impunity. No one ever interfered.

Location: Ireland

The Ryan Report I hold fast to the view that there must be no more deals, secret or otherwise done between Religious orders and the Government of Ireland without indepth consultation with people who were abused while in the care of religious orders or the state.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Oblates' role in running Daingean

Madam, - Patsy McGarry's disgraceful "lambasting" of the Oblates whom he described as the most "obdurate" of religious congregations (June 6th), met with a most tempered and admirable rebuff by Breda O'Brien (June 10th).

I don't know if Mr McGarry ever visited Daingean or has in fact ever met an Oblate priest or brother in his life or knows anything about the humanitarian work they do in some of the poorest places in the world.

My own experience of the Oblates, gained from my youth growing up in Daingean in the 1960s together with a four-year stint with them as a student for the priesthood (1972-76) gave me some insight into what exactly went on - and didn't go on - in the "reformatory".

I was aghast at the tenor of Mr McGarry's diatribes. He appears totally oblivious to the reality that in the 1960s, in schools throughout Ireland, corporal punishment was administered to some children, to a degree which, if it had occurred in St Conleth's (Daingean), would have resulted in a far greater number of abuse claims against the Oblates.

In particular, I found Mr McGarry's personal onslaught on Fr Hughes - a Welshman with no axe to grind with anyone - hard to take. I had the privilege of knowing him as a kind and most caring man throughout my four years with the Oblates.

He was also on the staff at Milltown Park Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Ranelagh, where Oblate students, together with other religious attended. To add insult to injury the startling photo used does a grave injustice to Fr Hughes.

Ms O'Brien got it right when she stated that a fuller picture of what happened behind the scenes included a horrendous amount of "buck-passing between various government departments" - some things never change! All Oblates, their families and friends - are indeed "deeply hurt by the one-sided and damning media portrayal" of their best efforts in circumstances and times a world removed from the 20/20 vision of today. - Yours, etc,

JH, RL, Leixlip, Co Kildare.

© 2006 The Irish Times


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