There were seven key points on the interview. So if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, you may find them useful. They’re listed below.

Some came as a complete surprise to me and I don’t believe are generally known.

They’re all certainly relevant to Survivors of the De La Salles and they’ve ALREADY made an important difference to me.

If you watch the interview afterwards, we used CLOSED CAPTIONS which we would recommend viewers switch on. As there were a few minor sound variations in the interview.  The captions couldn’t handle IICSA or Carmelites (‘Karmalise’) but otherwise it was fine.

1.Any Survivor can go to ANY of the RC Safeguarding agencies and a Safeguarding Officer will find them the relevant department and person.

(Note from Pat: I put this to the test straight away on my complicated case and it proved correct)

2.There are OTHER options beside civil lawsuits which may be useful for historic cases.  They’re discussed in the interview.

3. Abuse CAN be acknowledged by a religious group WITHOUT the issue of legal liability restricting them.

4. If a religious group is blocking progress, the RLSS can ‘escalate’ to a relevant body – e.g. the Mother House, Rome, a Bishop, the CSSA.

5. The RLSS is trying to bring out the best in the religious group and get them to do the right thing.

6. The RLSS CAN arrange face-to-face meetings between a Survivor and the Religious Group in a safe and appropriate way. ‘When it works, it’s fantastic. It can be really healing.’

(Note from Pat: This feels similar to a victim impact statement.  I would assume that a video interview would be even easier)

7. With the support of the RLSS, religious groups CAN and DO sometimes go against their legal team’s advice in order to do the right thing.


‘Denying our collective history does not just ignore our past, it weakens our present and cauterizes our future potential’

Bettany Hughes

Dear Pat, I was a boarder at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich from 1964 to 1968. I remember those days fairly well. Some memories are pleasant, like contact and continuing friendship with a great friend from all those years ago, some are disturbing.

One thing I’m sure of, our families entrusted the De La Salle Brothers to safely and kindly look after, protect and educate their children. Some Brothers failed this duty of care.

I find it difficult to imagine other Brothers who weren’t involved in the physical and sexual abuse of the students being completely oblivious to the events that were taking place. Surely some of the lay teachers and the school nurse must also have been aware. If they did, then they as adults, are as complicit.

My story is certainly not as harrowing as your account or others on your blog, far from it, as I emerged relatively unscathed. I was never personally sexually abused. However, I write to you in case it could provide a reference point, a timeline to help you and others in any way.

As a British Army family based in Germany my Mum and Dad thought it would be best for me to go to boarding school to finish my last few years of schooling. I started mid term in 1964 dressed in a dull grey suit that completely enveloped me. I felt awkward and apprehensive.

That night in the refectory I met and dined with boys the same age. Once dinner was over we all went outside and straight away, first night, a boy had a go at me. In a moment a cheering crowd of boys encircled us. Having been in a number of Army schools I was capable of looking after myself and after a few seconds punched the other boy in the nose, we wrestled around, and it was all over and the crowd dispersed. I was never picked on again by fellow students at St Joseph’s and to be honest wasn’t aware of too much conflict between students.

However, I was desperately unhappy being parted from my family and friends at home and remember sometimes at recess and lunchtimes sitting hiding in a cubicle in the toilet block feeling so sad. It took many months to get over the separation from my family. I felt very lost and alone.

I started off sleeping in the large dormitory by the main building. After lights out I used to lay quietly alone with my thoughts and prayers for a long while. I longed to be back home.

It was during these times when I found sleep difficult that I became aware of Brother Leo wandering around the dormitory in the dark by the beds of certain boys. I was a reasonably aware teenager with my upbringing. I had a strong sense that what he was up to was wrong and vowed that if he came anywhere near me I would lash out and scream the place down.

However, it was always the much younger, quieter, vulnerable boys he targeted.

Dare I say something? Should I say something? Best keep my head down was my first instinct. Isn’t that the way perpetrators get away with these offences.

Early in my first year I remember being given six strokes of the cane. I think it was for something trivial like running up the stairs in the main building. Each cut of the cane left severe bruising and broke the skin. It was a real beating and my bottom was achingly numb and sore. For a few days there was blood on my underpants. It probably took a week before it started to heal and the discomfort eased.

I had never been hit by anyone with such force and certainly not by any of the Army teachers who had taught me at the schools on the bases. They tended to be kindly, good natured and well meaning, so this absolutely shocked me.

I remember the distorted, flushed look on the Brother Director’s face when it was finished. I felt humiliated and certainly the punishment did not fit the crime. That was the first but not the last time I was caned, being caught smoking numerous times and other misdemeanours.

When I moved into the older grades I opted for a gardening punishment, for the whole weekend if necessary.

The following year, despite being a year younger than most, I was placed over in the GoldRood dormitories which was a blessing. I enjoyed being there. In the grounds you could play ‘headers’ soccer and simple things like watching the life cycle of the frogs in the large tank half way along the path. Also there was the TV room where we all watched ‘Top of the Pops’ hosted by Jimmy Saville. How apt.

The smaller dorms at GoldRood had a quieter feel to them and as we grew older we had more latitude. It was here I made a close circle of really good mates who looked out for and helped one another.

I never told my parents about these early events and canings. I felt I was being protective of them, but in hindsight I believe I was ashamed and didn’t want to expose my Mum and Dad to the fact they had placed me in an abusive situation. They seemed so proud that their son was going to St Jo’s.

In fact I have never discussed these days with anyone apart from my wife and a counsellor whilst undergoing recent treatment for anxiety.

I wonder how many students kept quiet? Many.

How many remained stoic? Many.

How many accepted events as ‘normal’?

This is the essence of systemic abuse, secrecy.

I remember Louis M well. He was a very stocky type with a shock of dark hair and a fellow smoker. It came as no surprise that he took Brother James apart.

I believe Brother James was suffering from PTSD, perhaps from the war. Some said he had been a fighter pilot, others a POW. With his psychotic temper and uncontrolled violence he should never have been allowed near children, ever. He was sadistic and a man to keep well clear of as he was capable of flying into a rage and lashing out with a flurry of fists, sometimes at the nearest student.

I recall in our lessons at the top of each page of the exercise book we used to write ‘JMJ’ and I often wondered how writing what amounted to a small prayer for guidance reconciled with boys being educated by teachers like Brother James.

During a time with my family in Germany my parents took me on a visit to the site of Belsen Concentration Camp. My Dad had been there the day after it had been liberated in WW2 and the visit had a profound effect on me. As a reminder I sticky taped a small B&W picture of Adolf Hitler on the underside of my wooden desk lid to remind me of the horrible events surrounding the monster.

Soon after, when I was at another lesson, Brother James was alerted to the picture. Apparently he flung open the wooden desk lid with fury. The other boys present thought he was going to have a severe fit as he was literally purple in the face as he tore the picture to shreds. He had lost all control and had to be helped as he was apoplectic. Luckily, I wasn’t there as I believe I would have been beaten senseless. Most surprisingly, I never heard any more about this incident.

As I grew older I became really very good at athletics and represented the school in the AAA County Championships and inter-school competitions. I won a number of county cups and medals. I believe this athletic ability, like the students who played senior rugby, gave me a certain profile and helped protect me from some of the harm meted out to others.

This is where dates and years fail me, but one memory that has stayed with me was an incident with Father Jolly.

As teenagers most of us were in the habit of smoking. Weekends were fine as we could go into Ipswich and go to the dark of a movie or a park and smoke our heads off. Later it was the pub at the bottom of the hill where the publican turned a blind eye. During the week was a different story and we were all hanging out for Saturday.

One day a friend and myself decided to go into Father Jolly’s unit and help ourselves to some of his cigarettes.

This was wrong, and we both knew it.

He lived in a small cottage just on the edge of the school boundary. We knew he had a cigarette box as we had visited his living room during one of his ‘getting to know you, group chats’

Seeing his car was gone we crept into the lounge and just before rifling some of the cigarettes we heard the crunch of the car wheels on the gravel outside. We were trapped and so just sat there. Jolly came in and asked what we were doing and to this day I don’t know how but we said we were waiting for him as we had a matter of abuse to report. My hands were shaking but I went into detail about the history of what I had previously witnessed in the large dormitory. Jolly started writing all this down. Pretty soon after the Brother departed the school.

In my mind I can to this day feel the panic as Jolly entered the room and my face flushing as we spoke about the sexual abuse we had witnessed. Of course for many years I saw Jolly as protecting the students and getting rid of the abuser, whereas in actual fact I now know he was giving the bastard the heads up to move on before the evidence was mounted and he was charged.

Naturally I never confessed the sin of attempting to steal cigarettes to Jolly.

I have seen another boy’s statement on your web-page about reporting abuse to Jolly. The date and timing is somehow out of kilter with my memory and it cannot be the same incident.

There were good teachers at the school and two lay teachers stand out in my mind. My English Literature teacher during sixth form gave me a love of poetry which has stayed with me all my life. My Economics teacher, a family man from Doncaster, Yorkshire was easy to relate to and kindly.

I loved travelling back to Germany to see my family. It entailed travelling by train to Harwich, then ferry over to the Hook of Holland and then catching the Moscow night express to Celle in central Germany. I hated the journey back to Ipswich.

As I grew older I enjoyed the company of my friends at St Joseph’s. Close friends meant emotional security and a clubbing together.

I know when I look back at this period I found the Brothers as a group to be a vulnerable, raw, clumsy group of men, out of touch with a rapidly changing society. Not all were bad, but most could not relate. I wonder now what early experiences they themselves had been through.

Certainly the ones meting out physical punishment and abusing the younger children in their care must have had awful upbringings to carry out some of the harrowing events described in your blog.

This in no way condones their awful, terrible behavior.

All of this is nearly sixty years ago now but parts I remember as if it were yesterday. Through it all I’m reminded of Philip Larkin’s poem, ‘This Be The Verse’ which is worth reading in it’s entirety.

‘Man hands on misery to man

It deepens like a coastal shelf’

Best wishes,

Stephen Parker


My name is Loreto Byrne. I was a civil servant from 1975 until 1993. I was an Assistant Principal, a middle to senior management grade. Through my work in the civil service and my subsequent experiences of how the authorities behaved when I tried to get them to do something about the situation that I encountered, I can state with certainty that there has been a cover-up of how concerns about abuse in Finglas Children’s Centre were dealt with by the state. I came across the cover-up in 1988 but it began before then. Finglas is not the only institution that has been protected from scrutiny and thereby accountability and there are connections between a number of these places. I can testify that the cover-up for Finglas has compromised the system of government in Ireland so I believe that there needs to be an independent investigation.


Finglas Children’s Centre opened in 1972 and was run by the de la Salles until 1994. It was closed in 2010. The state owned and funded the facility; when the de la Salles ran it, there was an agreement between the state and the order that gave the state control over how the centre was run. It comprised a remand and assessment centre, St. Michael’s, and an industrial school, St. Laurence’s, and catered for both boys in trouble with the courts and boys referred to it by the Health Boards, the state’s child protection service. I dealt with Finglas when I worked in the Department of Education (I was on loan from the Department of Finance) for six months from September 1987 until March 1988. I was told from the start that Finglas was a problem because it didn’t run at full capacity even though it was funded to do so. I represented the Department on the centre’s Board of Management, and that was how I became aware of a cover-up of allegations and concerns about physical and sexual abuse and financial mismanagement.

Before I became aware of the cover-up, I promised in December 1987, at a meeting with some of the lay staff in the Centre, to see to it that any concerns, allegations or complaints about abuse that were brought to my attention were investigated. I remember that the Director of the Centre, Br. Augustine Murphy of the de la Salles, went red and started twisting his hands, and the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Nick Rice, took out a handkerchief and mopped his brow. Rice was a retired inspector of special schools from the Department of Education and his brother had been an auxiliary provincial of the de la Salles.

The next day, my boss in Education, George Barry, told me that Rice had asked for responsibility for Finglas to be removed from me and returned to a woman on my staff, Margaret Farrell, who had dealt with Finglas for years before I arrived in Education and who had “protected the brothers” in some unspecified way, flouted the authority of her superiors when they tried to make her maintain a professional distance from the Centre and disobeyed orders not to visit the place at night (this is what I was told by the first person whom I met on my first day in Education, Mr. Jack O’Brien in Personnel Section).

The next time I was in Finglas, in January 1988, the Assistant Director and Principal of St. Laurence’s, a Br. Francis (there was another Br. Francis on the staff, he worked in St. Michael’s) said, when he met me in the corridor, “Have you not been moved yet? Oh well, I suppose it’ll take a while longer.”

The following month, February, the Director, Br. Murphy, told a Board meeting that the Wages and Accounts Clerk, Ms. Ita Rudden, was constantly complaining about how the Centre was run. The Board nominated three members, including me, to interview her. There was a general agreement that she should be threatened with dismissal. I said that I wanted to know the substance of her complaints and Br. Murphy put together a dossier of letters – he didn’t have it to hand, he fished letters out of a drawer in a cabinet where they were lying on top of each other, not in a file, so I may not have received each and every letter that Ms. Rudden had sent to Br. Murphy or his predecessors.

Rice gave me and Ms. Farrell (she had been invited to the meeting so that the Board could wish her well in her retirement) a lift back to work after the Board meeting. They both made disparaging remarks about Ms. Rudden on the journey, implying that she was mentally incompetent.

I started to deal with the dossier immediately. The first thing on it was something obscene that, according to Ms. Rudden, she had found waiting for her on her desk one morning, i.e. it hadn’t arrived in the post but came from within the Centre. Br. Murphy had done nothing about it. I was appalled: my attitude was that someone with a sick mind was involved with Finglas so the boys there needed to be protected from such an influence, and unless Ms. Rudden had faked the material to draw attention to herself in a perverted way, her work situation was intolerable. Whatever lay behind it, it was gross dereliction of duty for Br. Murphy simply to put the letter in a drawer and ignore the situation. I wrote a memo for George Barry in those terms and asked for and was given authority to investigate the dossier of complaints.

I didn’t have time that afternoon to read everything in the dossier so I brought it home with me. That night, I realised there were mentions of physical and sexual abuse in two of Ms. Rudden’s letters. I rang someone who worked with me in Education (it was never entirely clear whether he answered to me or to my boss), Graham Granville, the statutory inspector of industrial and reformatory schools under the Children Act 1908. We agreed that I would go out to Finglas first thing in the morning and interview Ms. Rudden, and that I would summon Granville if I thought things needed to be taken further.

I went to Finglas in the morning, spoke to Ms. Rudden, satisfied myself that her concerns should be investigated, and summoned Granville. He too thought matters needed to be taken further so I rang the Department of Education. Barry wasn’t there so I spoke to his boss, Tomás Ó Gilín. He said that I should inform the Chairman of the Board and refer the dossier formally to the Director of the Centre for a formal response. He said that if needs be the Department would set up a tribunal to establish the truth.

I did as I was ordered. I also wrote a note of what had happened that day. I opened a file on which I placed the letters about Finglas and my letter to the Director seeking his formal response to the matters in the letters. Some days after that, I took two phone calls from a member of the lay staff in Finglas, one P. J. Leahy, and I made notes of the calls on the file copy of the letter to Br. Murphy.

Leahy said that he had heard that I was “dynamic” and could look forward to a bright future in the Department of Finance in the normal way but this wasn’t going to happen now because I was “paying attention to matters which people who’d had my job before me had chosen to ignore.” He said that he had a feeling that I was making notes of what he was saying. He said that all Ms. Rudden’s complaints could be substantiated to some degree.

Br. Murphy rang me and we arranged that he, Granville and I would meet in Finglas on Monday 21 March 1988 to discuss matters.

I was lucky to make it to that meeting. On Friday 11 March I was summoned to a meeting in Personnel Section in Education and told that I was unacceptable in Education so I was to return to Finance. The man whom I met was called Ó Broin and was O’Brien’s boss. When I told Granville about it, his take on it was that both Ó Broin and O’Brien had dealt with Finglas before me so they were moving to get rid of me and keep a lid on things. He advised me to contact Ms. Rudden and warn her of what was happening.

I did so the following morning, Saturday 12 March 1988. Her number was in the phone book so I was able to call her at home. I didn’t tell her about Leahy’s phone calls to me but she said that she knew something was afoot, he’d asked her for my work number and said he wanted to “warn” me because something terrible was going to happen to me. She said Leahy was involved in Fianna Fáil (FF), which was then in government on its own under Charles J. Haughey.

I contacted three public representatives (Michael McDowell, Mary Harney and Mary Flaherty) that weekend and alerted them to the fact that Education was moving to cover up matters amiss, including concerns about physical and sexual abuse, in the juvenile detention centres.

Monday morning, I got a phone call from Mary Butler in Personnel Section in Finance, telling me to attend a meeting there that day to discuss my return from Education. I’d been tipped off by a Garda Superintendent to a possible fraud in Trinity House reformatory school and had got permission from George Barry to investigate the matter by telling him that a serious allegation had been made to me by a confidential and trustworthy source, so I was alive to the possibility that Education was just as anxious to deter me from doing something about that as it was to protect Finglas from scrutiny – the Board of Management in Trinity House was chaired by a retired Education official, another member was a retired inspector who had previously chaired the Finglas board, and there were a few other people on the board who were longstanding cronies of the retired officials and hostile to any changes to their way of doing things. I told Finance that I had other plans for the day, I was going to Trinity House to do an audit, and that it would have to order me in writing to attend a meeting in Finance. I remember that Ms. Butler shouted at me, obviously I was being awkward by continuing to do my work regardless. In any event, Finance sent me a letter ordering me to go to a meeting there at 2.30pm the following day, Tuesday 15 March.

I did as I was ordered.

I brought with me some papers about Finglas and also the evidence I’d compiled – I’d gone out to the school and done a quick audit – of matters amiss financially in Trinity House. Even though I knew how Rice and Ms. Farrell had tried to tell me that Ms. Rudden was crazy, and even though Barry had boasted to me about how he’d dealt with a woman who complained about him and Trinity House (she was diagnosed as “a paranoid schizophrenic” and dismissed as incurably mentally ill), I genuinely thought I’d be given a fair hearing in Finance and would only have to produce the evidence to get Finance to do something about what was clearly an appalling state of affairs, the wholesale mismanagement of the juvenile justice system, indifference to the possible abuse of children in state custody and the harassment of people who voiced concerns.

I couldn’t have been more wrong: Finance went on the attack immediately, refused to listen to what I tried to tell them, and did its utmost to break me on the spot. I was told I had “considerable intellectual ability but was underachieving,” I was “aggressive” and “misperceived things,” “things happened around me for which I disclaimed responsibility,” nobody in Finance would have me on their staff, and that I was to suffer “disciplinary action up to and including dismissal” unless I could satisfy them that there was “a medical reason for my behaviour.” With this in mind they’d made an appointment for me to see the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for the civil service immediately after the meeting and they urged me to keep the appointment because he was a very busy man who might not be able to fit me in again soon!

There were two of them against me, Ms. Butler and her boss, Stephen O’Neill. He did all the talking and she sat there and nodded. It was news to him that I’d gone to her the previous November looking for a transfer from Education because my health was suffering from my working conditions (the building where I worked was condemned in the 1920s and acknowledged to be a health hazard) but it made no difference, he said nothing I could say would change anything and that the decision to remove me from Education had been taken long before I came across the concerns about Finglas and Trinity House.

When O’Neill said the CMO was waiting to see me that day, I said, “you have no business making an appointment behind my back for me to see a doctor.” I told them that I needed time to consider the request and that I would inform them of my decision by 5.30pm the next day. I said somewhere along the way that I was going to submit the evidence of wrongdoing formally to the head of the Department of Education and was told to do that, but they wanted me to see the CMO anyway (a significant detail whose importance was not immediately apparent). By the time I left the room, I was shaken to my core. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I’d broken down at that meeting – I mean, what would Finance have told my family? I know what would have happened if I’d met the CMO, he’d have certified me as incompetent and placed me on sick leave, I’d have had to go to the High Court to challenge it, and I wouldn’t have gone to the meeting in Finglas the following Monday.

I rang the Department of Finance at 5.25pm on Wednesday 16 March 1988 and told them I would see the CMO if I were ordered to do so and given the reason why in writing. The following day was St. Patrick’s Day, a public holiday, so I couldn’t be given an answer until Friday.
That meant that I couldn’t see the CMO until Monday at the earliest, but I had arranged to meet Br. Murphy in Finglas first thing on Monday 21 March 1988, so the way I handled things meant that Education and Finance had effectively failed to stop me from pursuing the concerns about Finglas.

I contacted a friend, a retired civil servant, who prevailed on the head of the Department of Education, Declan Brennan, to meet me on Friday 18 March. It was a very short meeting. I briefed Brennan about Finglas and Trinity House and other matters. He said that he’d been told nothing about any of those things but had been informed that I was returning to the Department of Finance at my own request, another significant detail.

Granville and I met Br. Augustine Murphy in Finglas on Monday 21 March 1988. Br. Murphy acknowledged that there was substance to each and every one of Ms. Rudden’s complaints and concerns. On the question of physical abuse he accepted that an incident involving a lay member of staff had occurred on the date alleged by Ms. Rudden but disputed its categorisation as abuse. As regards sexual abuse (Ms. Rudden alleged that there were rumours in the Centre about both a de la Salle brother and a lay member of staff). Br. Murphy said, “These things happened before my time but boys still ring up to complain. What am I to do? We could have another Kincora on our hands if we looked into these things.” I told him that allegations of criminal wrongdoing should be referred to An Garda Síochána for them to investigate, and that nothing, neither sympathy for the perpetrator nor fear of scandal, should interfere with that.

Back at the office, I wrote a report of the meeting. Granville and I both signed it and I put it on the file that I’d opened to deal with the Rudden dossier.

I did something else as well: I asked Margaret Farrell if she’d known that Ms. Rudden had expressed concerns about abuse. She said that she had, that the matter had been discussed at off the record meetings in the de la Salle quarters in Finglas and that it had been decided that nothing would be done. This was significant: as I mentioned earlier the agreement under which the de la Salles ran Finglas gave the state control so when somebody from Education went to a meeting and agreed to ignore concerns about abuse this was tantamount to Education ordering the de la Salles to turn a blind eye to abuse. I can’t remember whether I interviewed Farrell the day I went out to Finglas to satisfy myself as to whether the dossier of complaints needed to be taken seriously or whether I spoke to her on Monday 21 March after the meeting with Br. Murphy but it doesn’t matter, I made a note of what she said and put it on the file.

I reported for duty in Finance a day or so later. They told me that they couldn’t order me to see the CMO but would hold it against me if I wouldn’t do as they wanted and they gave me three reasons for the request: a complaint about me in Finance before I was sent to Education, my sick leave in Education (there was a high rate of sickness in the building where I worked in

Education, Finance knew that when it sent me there, and more than half my sick leave happened after Finance refused to pay heed to my doctor’s advice that my work situation in Education was unsuitable), and Education’s decision to send me back to Finance.
This vague statement of reasons (I was entitled to names, dates and precise details including copies of written statements and notes of discussions) was another significant detail whose importance did not become apparent until later. Finance told me that I was not acceptable to anyone there so they had no placement for me, I was to go home and ring them in a week’s time. I told them that I was submitting a formal statement to the head of the Department of Education about the mismanagement that I’d uncovered and that I was submitting it to him in his capacity as Accounting Officer to the Dáil (I was familiar with public financial procedures whereby the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) interviews Accounting Officers about audit reports and so on).

The stand-off between me and Finance went on for three and a half weeks. Over that period I submitted a statement as promised to Declan Brennan in Education, sent copies to Granville and to the person in Education responsible for disbursing money to Finglas and Trinity House, and tipped off the C- & A-G, the state auditor, to the financial mismanagement in Finglas and Trinity House. I also spoke to a Garda whom I knew. I didn’t get back in contact with any of the public representatives that I’d contacted before; I recognized that if they made inquiries they would be put off the trail by smears on my competence so I believed that I had to proceed by proving that Education was in the wrong and that the way to do that was to show the Department up through an independent audit report – I was confident that anyone of integrity who looked into the things that I had seen in Education would criticise them just like I had, the mismanagement was glaringly obvious. The person to whom I spoke in the audit office said that they wouldn’t take immediate action, they would make a note of the information and take account of it in the course of their regular programme of work.

Whilst the statement for the Accounting Officer in Education was calculated to tie in with the outcome of an official audit, that doesn’t mean that the statement was confined to the financial aspects of the Rudden dossier or to the evidence of possible fraud in Trinity House. I included the material about possible abuse in Finglas on the basis that managing the facility properly in the best interests of the taxpayer required the prompt investigation of concerns about abuse. I gave Brennan the evidence that Education had been told by both the Chief State Solicitor and the Department of Finance that the state was legally liable for the operations of the industrial and reformatory schools and I told him that allowing abuse to occur or delaying investigations was creating a financial burden on the state and that a cover-up would cause a worse scandal in the long run than would dealing with things promptly and efficiently. There was also material in the statement about corporal punishment in Clonmel industrial school: again, the Chief State Solicitor had told Education that it was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights but Education hadn’t ended the practice and so was upping the bill for the taxpayer whenever claims were lodged against the state. Basically, what I tried to do was use the mechanisms of state audits and accountability to the Dáil to bring about scrutiny of Education and thus expose its collusion in the abuse of children in state custody.

To be continued…


Another quote below from the official history where it’s claimed that the De La Salle brothers should ‘cultivate in themselves the quality of refinement in bearing, in language, and in manners’

That was certainly not my experience at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and neither is it the experience of many other Survivors. The abusers Brothers James, Solomon and Kevin come immediately to mind but there were many more.

It’s their endless self-congratulation and self-deification I find so abhorrent. There is never any acknowledgement of the numerous times the DLS fell far short of such standards

Not a few bad apples—the barrel is rotten: Tom Doyle on clerical child abuse

Here’s a link to an excellent interview with expert Tom Doyle.


To quote the intro:

Tom Doyle brings a wealth of knowledge, experience of both research and litigation, and a solid integrity to the examination of the abuse of children by clergymen in the Roman Catholic Church.

He speaks on this subject with an honesty, and courage that is peerless. His testimony is precise without being sensational. The analysis he outlines explains the role of church history, church government and church theology in creating this catastrophe.

The response from the bishops and cardinals is one of denial, cover-up, control and outright lies, often under oath. Despite all that has been revealed, they still refuse to address the horror of what has been done to the most vulnerable in society—little children. They do not grasp the lifelong suffering of the victims. Instead spending more time, care and resources on the abusers.


I recently wrote about Father Small visiting the beautiful palace he and his Safeguarding staff – the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors –  are taking over – and to which Survivors of Catholic sexual abuse will also have access to in some as yet unclear way. Vatican Safeguarding, it seems, is currently going through a difficult period with the resignation of two Survivors who were on its staff and now the resignation of its leading member Hans Zollner.

Zollner’s comments at a press conference included:

“One thing is certain, several members have left the Pontifical Commission before me and there has been no shortage of criticisms recently expressed publicly by past members, some quite strong”. 

“If there is a lack of transparency, complaints and accountability, the doors are open to cover-ups”

Certainly no progress has been made on the De La Salle child sexual abuse scandal which I understood Father Small was hoping to resolve, following the example of the Comboni Brothers. He was going to write to me and I intimated that I welcomed his letter.

Perhaps he’s too busy. Because it transpires that Father Small is not only the head of the Pontifical Commission, but also the Founder and CEO of Missio Invest ‘blending faith and finance’ : an ambitious developmental aid project in the Global South. ‘In Africa alone,’ Missio says, ‘ there are over 74,000 religious sisters, 46,421 priests, and 8,779  brothers.’ This link takes you to their site and tells you about the impressive work they are doing in Africa and elsewhere. This includes  agriculture, hospitals, old people’s homes and… schools.

Hence my interest.

Because my Catholic education was conditional on my becoming a seminarian. When, aware of the terrifying sexual abuse in seminaries, I declined, I was thrown out of my school at the tender age of 15. Altogether, my brother and I had 9 years of ‘free’ expensive education at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. But, of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There were other criminal strings attached, specifically being abused by the Catholic Knights of St Columba whose paedophile Knights included Canon Burrows of St Pancras Church, Ipswich.

This conditional Catholic education was commonplace in the past. Parents, like my Irish mother, even dedicated their children to the Church, with all it implied in that past era. A national journalist has expressed an interest in looking into this disturbing subject.

And there’s the example of John McDonnell MP who wrote to me:

‘I was at St Joseph’s in Ipswich from 12 to 16, funded by the church to then go on to a minor seminary to train to become a priest.’

A fairly recent article about St J’s had a spokesperson denying there was any such thing as St J’s ‘facilitating’ vocations as John described. Despite there being a De La Salle vocations teacher on the circuit of the DLS schools and despite my own clear recollections of being taught Latin one-to-one by Brother Kevin.

I would hate to think that Father Small’s educational work  in the Global South includes a similar covert, easily deniable, conditional requirement as I’ve described. So that children there are still at risk – through desperate poverty – of being pressurized into seminaries, religious orders or at the mercy of clerical abusers or Catholic laity abusers, just as I was. Given that the Church has never acknowledged and expressed regret for its past ‘strings attached’ policy, not to mention the sexual abuse that so often went with it, of course it’s still going on and, of course, children are still in danger, even though it’s now obscured with a modern PR gloss, an obfuscation that is the familiar hallmark of the Church. Plus ça change

But where does the Church’s money come from for its ‘free’ education for suitably spiritual, obedient or poor and desperate children its clerical predators can take advantage of?

In my case, was it from some investment fund the Knights ran for the Church? Or from a diocese fund?  My old school, St Joseph’s, when it began, was mysteriously funded by the Knights and its current finances are still equally mysterious so  that a lawyer and a reporter who looked into them both found the current financial set-up ‘very strange.’

John McDonnell, like myself and others, says his education was ‘funded by the Church’ – but no knows where the money comes from, who it’s funnelled through –except in my case it was the Knights – and how else it’s used.

It’s time we found out.

If  Survivors and ordinary concerned people are ever going to make sense of the the Catholic Church, its current potential for abusing and corrupting new generations of poor children in the Global South – where it’s acknowledged by the Church the safeguarding protocols are not as strong as in affluent countries – then it’s important to follow the money.

So this view, sent to me by an insider, knowledgeable in the workings of the Catholic Church, is important. I had no idea about Missio Invest before I read this.

I’ll comment further after their analysis.

I poked around a bit on the internet after reading your blog post about the palazzo – I was intrigued by Fr. Small talking about fundraising to do up the place, I thought, “Surely the Vatican funds the Commission and accepts that it has to throw resources at problems to resolve the crisis for the Church.”

Small’s background is that he’s a commercial lawyer cum entrepreneur. He’s involved in Missio Invest, a Church fund for start-ups by Church entities in the 3rd/developing worlds which got $20m from the World Bank in recent years. The idea is to put Church assets and the assets of Catholic lay organisations to work.

As you know, the De La Salles set up an investment fund in 2009. CBIS Global (Christian Brothers Investment Services) is an offshore fund that’s managed from Dublin. I don’t know how to find out for sure, but what’s the betting that CBIS and Missio Invest don’t have dealings with each other somewhere? What’s CBIS investing in if not the kind of thing that Missio Invest encourages?

Who would pay to do up a palazzo for the Vatican? Especially when that should come way behind redress for victims, an issue on which the Church clearly doesn’t impose universal rules? My mind is boggled 

It said somewhere in the articles I read that to get a loan from Missio Invest an organisation has to adhere to the guidelines for safeguarding laid down from Rome. So which comes first in Small’s world: safeguarding and justice for victims, or getting the organisations that want loans from Missio Invest to sign up to safeguarding so that he can spread money around and build his reputation as an entrepreneur?

This kind of thing may be what Zollner was hinting at when he said that concerns about financial transparency were involved in his decision to resign from the Commission.


Investors acknowledged by Missio Invest include the Jesuits  and the Sisters of Saint Louis. But it’s quite possible the De La Salles are involved, given that ‘CBIS manages assets of $3 billion (€2 billion) in 10 funds based in the US through which “socially responsible” investments are made on behalf of more than 1,000 Catholic organisations. The Dublin-based fund will mirror the investments made by the firm in the US and will initially target Catholic organisations in Ireland, France, Italy and Spain.’

I’ll return to the subject of the actual value of  Missio’s developmental aid another time. It’s a subject I know a fair amount about having written a two year semi-documentary series Third World War that concluded in 1990. It exposed numerous scandals in the Third World such as the Nestle Baby Food Scandal, the human cost of monoculture exports, and the IMF ferocious policies leading to suicides but also heroic resistance by indigenous people.

Today, it’s far worse. Nestle try to control water supplies and seeds are patented so farmers are at the mercy of transnationals. Given that Missio Invest is linked to the World Bank, I fail to see how it’s following a different and more noble path.  

Common criticisms of the World Bank

  • Creating a climate where high levels of lending are deemed to be good.
  • Advocating disability adjusted life years as a health measure.
  • Disregard for the environment and indigenous populations.
  • Evaluating health projects by looking at economic outcome measures.

And, if you imagine Father Small’s Church would have respect for indigenous populations today, then I need to tell you about the Jesuits who threw the Apache Indians off their sacred mountain so they could build a Vatican-controlled and financed observatory on the top. It has the most powerful telescope in the world called Lucifer (Truly!) which searches for alien life. According to Father Chris Corbally, the project’s deputy director, ‘If civilisations were to be found on other planets and if it were feasible to communicate, then we would want to send  missionaries to save them.” The Jesuits wanted to name the observatory ‘Columbus’ which the Apaches objected to for obvious reasons.

Some of the information I discovered is on these links : (quoting the London Sunday Times)

The Apaches now need a prayer permit to ascend their sacred mountain. Their claim to it is disputed by the Jesuits because they don’t have written records.

 Father Coyne, director of the Observatory, further declared that Apache beliefs were “a kind of religiosity to which I cannot subscribe and which must be suppressed with all the force we can muster.”

Plus ça change


What I take away from reading the account below is how important the De La Salles were to the Establishment in the 1950s. They were so well connected back then, any child speaking out about abuse by a DLS brother would never have been believed. The order had the total backing of the Establishment.

I doubt it would get quite the same backing today, but it still remains a powerful and global entity.

It helps explain why the DLS has still not responded to the most serious charges of child sexual abuse laid against it, as well as the promised investigation and apology which is still not forthcoming.

Maybe they still use their connections to their advantage. Or they are affected by clericalism – the elitism that is still present in the Catholic Church – and have nothing but disdain for Survivors. Disdain because they either regard us as liars or think we should keep our mouths shut about the horrific crimes the Brothers committed.

With all this in mind, one observer raised a most pertinent and important question:

The founder of the De La Salles wasn’t just canonized, he was declared patron saint of ALL teachers. So why aren’t the De La Salles leading the way for teaching orders to make amends for abuse, instead of being grudging laggards?

DE LA SALLE REFORMATORIES: Better in the 17th century!

Another excerpt from an official history of the De La Salles. Everyone knows how appalling De La Salle approved schools and reformatories were in recent times. St Gilberts School was particularly vile and there have been graphic accounts on this site. The latest development is that the De La Salles say they were acting on behalf of the Home Office, so they are not responsible for their own criminal actions!

Their hypocrisy is beyond words. They have absolutely no shame.

Money, it seems, totally dominates their lives.

Compare their current behaviour with how they behaved in the 17th century. See below. ‘Birds in cages’ and ‘cultivating flowers’ were allowed for inmates.

I doubt that was the case in the 20th century!

A survivor of the De La Salles made this comment about the current hypocrisy contrasting with the founder’s admirable ideals. ‘Cardinal Wolsley (associated with Ipswich) said much the same thing (about behaving correctly to boys). These DLS blokes never read their contract again after they signed it. Or maybe they were just bloody evil.’


Sending these ‘Survivors Forum – concluding thoughts’ on to the RLSS.

Currently, Survivors have no voice. We are treated like lepers or liars or unfortunate collateral damage who should ‘move on’ and forget what happened to them.

Thus it would be impossible for me or another Survivor to currently interview the Catholic Herald editor and ask why our views are never heard in that publication. They would not respond.

The Tablet is exactly the same. I tried.

But an official Forum, backed by the RLSS, could, in time, be listened to by such powerful Catholic entities. I realise that won’t happen overnight, that many of these entities are scared and suspicious of Survivors and will be reluctant to be interviewed (which does not reflect well on them) but with positive examples of successful interviews, they could be persuaded.

This is just one example where the RLSS could be pro-active in the spirit of the Elliott report.  



I do a video interview with a member of the RLSS. Preferably the CEO so it shows we’re being taken seriously. 45 minutes, preferably one hour.  I have interviewed many people professionally and been interviewed countless times.

If the interview gets a positive response from Survivors, we do more interviews.

As we all know, a clipped text reply to painful questions can be misinterpreted. If we’re feeling fragile, a curt text response can be destructive. So that applies to questions and answers on the Forum, too. It’s a danger we have to overcome as far as possible.

But video is different. We can judge the warmth and sincerity of the interviewee and cut them some slack that’s just not possible with text replies.

AFAIK, this has never been done before, so that’s why I feel it has full transparency potential which traditional private phone calls or meetings behind closed doors don’t have.

I can gather questions from Survivors and submit them in advance. This first interview is likely to be ‘general’ and answer the most pressing issues Survivors have – like what happens to historic abuse claims when the abuser is dead? Why there needs to be an alternative to litigation for survivors: e.g. religious orders launch their own investigations and acknowledge the past. They must be pro-active. Why better role models and solutions outside the UK – as in Ireland – could be implemented. How the RLSS could help by supporting and highlighting Survivor concerns in the media.

The RLSS does the interview recording, the tech uploading, and has the opportunity to edit in the most unlikely event that either of us says something untoward or that could be taken out of context.

The resulting podcast video interview is posted prominently on the RLSS site and is also available on a youtube link – so it can be viewed via social media.

As the RLSS CEO has said to me, this would be a good small first step towards a forum.

The subsequent Survivor feedback to the Interview – positive and negative – should also go on the RLSS website. 

It thus forms a proto-Forum.


Subsequent ‘specialised’ interviews, I feel should have the following objectives as far as feasible: Getting the Catholic entity to acknowledge there is an issue that needs wider discussion. Providing Survivors with information. While Survivors recognize that the entity cannot talk about individual cases – because I fear Catholic Insurance would veto the interview. But we can still get around that by talking generally.

I can think of four experienced interviewers (2 female, 2 male) – with specialist Catholic  knowledge -who could be interested. And the RLSS may know some Survivors who would be good interviewers. And I’m keen to do many of the interviews myself initially to get the process underway as quickly as possible.


CEO of CSSA The CEO of the CSSA has admitted to me that the Laity has been overlooked thus far. I know that Laity organizations – with no DBS checks – are still in control of children!! See also Sodalities below.

CHAIR OF CSSA Nazir Afzal. He has turned down at least one interview with a Survivor on an excellent social media Survivors platform and he remains incommunicado. This is unacceptable. He must talk to Survivors on our terms, not his. We are the injured party. Otherwise he is just another example of Clericalism that is rampant in the Catholic Church

FATHER SMALL – Head of Vatican Safeguarding who has expressed a wish to get in touch with myself and De La Salle survivors as part of a conciliation process. So I assume he would agree. I guess I’d do that one.  

A CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE ON CANON LAW – I’d like to do this one, because I’ve collected a series of disturbing aspects of Canon Law that need answering. I would consult a Catholic theologian, so I am fully primed. Canon Law IMHO is  at the heart of Catholic child sex abuse and clericalism. For example: Canon Law is used as mitigation in defiance of the law of the land, there’s the principle of  double effect (‘end justifies the means’) enshrined in Catholic theology via Aquinas, the legitimacy of lying to protect the Church (‘the greater good’) and the various Oaths of Allegiance which prevent Catholics speaking out. These negative elements need public questioning and acknowledgement.

EDITOR CATHOLIC HERALD –  Survivors have to talk to this person who seems to exclude the concerns of  Survivors and the negative aspects of Canon Law from their publication.  We are the elephant in the room. Given that this is the biggest issue for the Catholic Church that has to change.

I can think of six other key interviews with Catholic entities which would be important to me and other Survivors, but I figure let’s see what happens with the above suggestions first.


Other issues:

One concern that came up is Survivors fearing being retraumatised by engaging in a Forum. That’s understandable and the answer is simple – for their own sake, they should stay away from the Forum. Thus I won’t enter a Catholic Church because it always makes me feel angry. So I stay away. But I don’t object to other Survivors entering a Church.

The Beulah Hill Crystal Palace Forum thread is worthy of study to show how it works and if a Survivors’ Forum should be similar.  Crystal Palace is the Forum that the De La Salles claim not to know about – some of the numerous DLS abuse allegations ‘unheard of’ were on this Crystal Palace Forum. 

The Irish solution to Catholic abuse is well worth study. I have three examples I want to look at. They still have problems in Ireland, but they are far ahead of the UK in responding to Survivors.

One area that would benefit from a video airing with someone suitable is Recovered Memory. It’s something I’ve become a reluctant authority on having attended two False Memory UK meetings. ‘False Memory’ has been provably debunked everywhere in the world – with one exception: the UK where powerful lobbies promote it as truth with the active support and questionable connivance of the Guardian and other UK media provably withholding evidence (Father James Porter case). For Survivors to know – apart from a few mentally ill fantasists or charlatans –  FM is a lie would be very reassuring and help their healing process.

SODALITIES. An insider has recently advised me:

‘Those confraternities, sodalities, orders to venerate saints and so on obviously are significant financially plus many of them are international and so offer support systems to people who relocate from one jurisdiction to another, but they haven’t featured in audits of how the Church has handled concerns and allegations about abuse.’


Feedback coming in now on a proposed official Catholic Abuse Survivors Forum – mainly a VERY cautious positive response and, thus far, two survivors who said specifically it was a waste of time. One of them has been through the wringer many times with the Catholic Church so I can understand his exasperation. I think that goes for all of us.

My initial tweet thread was too dry, got a very limited response, so my thanks to my wife Lisa for suggesting a follow-up more ‘tabloid’ tweet which got far more engagement. Given that I write popular culture for a living, you’d really think I’d have realised that!

And the responses, in themselves, amount to important material for a forum and how such a forum would look and the likely responses. Nothing problematic that I could see..

I looked at both the RLSS and CSSA sites and couldn’t find ANY Survivor feedback!

It was all Chiefs and No Indians.

That HAS to change. It’s against everything the Elliott Report stands for. Perhaps Elliott was also at fault for not spelling out how Safeguarding can be pro-active.  Even though to me, and many Survivors, it’s so obvious. 

I think I’ve demonstrated below that there is cautious interest in a Forum. So it’s over to Safgeguarding now.

I’ve also demonstrated it does require social media skills to engage everyone concerned and get Survivors interested.That’s something the Safeguarders must take on board. As I said to Nazir Afzal, the Safeguarding approach is very ‘Daily Telegraph’. It needs to be tabloid to reach and interact with people.

I’ll blog my conclusions separately.

The alternative of doing nothing and endlessly raising concerns for decade after decade, while the Safeguarders and the abusive organisations they’re protecting remain heavily entrenched behind their official positions and are not pro-active is against the spirit of the Elliott report.

We have to move forward.

Anyway, here was the social-media savvy tweet


If you had the chance to speak direct to Catholic Safeguarding and leaders of the Church on an official survivors’ forum, what would you say? That possibility now seems to be on the table. Good idea? Or a waste of time? #CatholicTwitter #CatholicAbuse@CatholicHerald

And this was my follow up tweet:

The burning question I want to ask on a forum is – what happens to Survivors’ claims when they’re not ‘current’ & they don’t want the hassle of legal action. It’s no good saying ‘we don’t know’. I have several sensible pro-active solutions I’d like to share on a forum.

Here were the replies, plus a few replies from my earlier tweets

1)Marilyn Hawes


WASTE OF TIME @RCsurvivors…

its simple don’t listen they don’t change worse still nor do they wish to but they purport to be religious its a joke ! do they read the bible ? I support many victims of abuse I’m sick of the catholic church too many have been harmed even forced adoption Nazareth house sickening

Pat:Thanks, Marilyn. In a couple of weeks time I may well be saying something similar to yourself. Right now, I have to give them the opportunity for ‘due diligence’. I’ve heard harrowing stories about adoption which amounts to trafficking.

2) Rafael Viola

  1. rafael1viola on March 23, 2023 at 2:04 pm said:Edit

Count me in Pat if that’s ok then they can hear our voices


Replying to @PatrickEMills and @CatholicHerald

This is the last chance saloon for me I’ve heard it all before fake apologies broken promises this is my last attempt and that I do promise


Thanks, Rafael. They are running on borrowed time


We need answers and actions right from the start and proper media attention let’s get this out in the open no more bull shit let both parties put their card’s on the table

3) Catholic Survivors England

Think it’s worth a go but wouldn’t enter into it with any expectations so you’re not too disappointed if it doesn’t work out.

Thanks. Good advice! What I’m personally hoping for is video interview to go on a Forum. All those questions Nazir ducked and was’ too busy’ to talk to Andy. It’ll be harder – but not impossible – for them to say ‘no’ to an official forum.

Catholic Survivors:

Sounds like a really good idea – there has to be something to hold them to account. Please continue to share any updates.

4) Survivorstrong

That this is not all about policy & is a lot about culture, that the belief any ill in the church is of demonic influence leads to demonizing those reporting that harm. That continuing to point to LGBTQ+ as the problem is hiding the entitlement granted via toxic theologies.

Pat:Good point. I’m sure priests would see me as demon influenced! Issues around LGBTQ+ should be aired on a forum about RCC’s failings. If it happens, I hope you’d get into that. I know RCC was keen on conversion therapy until it was banned.


That theologies that teach men are naturally violent & women are here for containing male sexual violence, for providing domestic comfort, for reproducing is creating great suffering & harming their stated mission of creating a just & peaceful world connected to the Divine.

Pat:Yeah, I’m personally aware as a survivor of the misogynistic nature of RCC. Specifically by their denigrating Mary Magdalene and promoting passive Virgin Mary. Your similar view needs wide airing.

5)  Jane Chevous

I always think that having honest conversations are a good idea. Have a look at our Charter as a basis for safe working

Thanks, Jane. That charter could well provide a structure where everyone feels safe in airing and receiving views

Jane:Recently they did a survivor survey about engagement. I’ll let you know when it’s published

So the Church of England doesn’t have a survivor forum as such, although there are a significant number of survivors working with them on consultations about policy, practice & training, & some co-production.
Survivor feedback is a good idea. At the moment I suspect most of the feedback comes in the form of complaints

Pat:Yep! And rightly so. But when the RLSS did get DBS checks on Cistercian monks on@caldeyabuse1970 did make a point of saying so. They need encouraging to do the right thing.

Jane: Also, I and 2 other survivor reps sit on their National Safeguarding Panel, which provides independent advice and scrutiny on safeguarding practice. There is a lot to do, but I wouldn’t stay if I didn’t think it made a difference.

6) StJoesCSASurvivor

I would ask why it was suggested there may be a route to access some funding for counselling from DLS and when I asked about that it, wasn’t an option any more or at best was a ‘last resort’ that was never followed up without my jumping through certain hoops first.

Pat:That’s exactly the kind of thing that should be responded to positively on a forum. We’ve both been misled in similar ways in the past. The forum itself needs to be easy access. Crystal Palace (Beulah Hill) site is good xample although I flunked the football question!

St J’s survivor:
I feel that as long as there are church lawyers protecting church interests (as I’m sure the early church had. Not), a forum is just going to be a handy resource for them, isn’t it? Am certain they’re all over our tweets and such.


I’ve been there loads of times. WASTE OF TIME.…

Pat:Thanks, Denis. That’s valuable to know. As I’ve said to RLSS (and they acknowledge) they have to prove themselves before anyone will take them seriously.

Dennis: I would like to meet Zollner face to face,i don’t think he realises what survivors go through on a daily basis.

8)Survivors Hall:

What will it accomplish that the Vatican Abuse summit was supposed to spark? They have more than enough information and data by now and they are not stupid people.

Pat:A forum could raise general media awareness of Survivors. And i have a raft of questions I want to ask various RCC bodies that I and other Survivors need answers to. It could also put Survivors in touch with each other and exchange info and support.

9) Joanna

Video is where it’s at.

10)Insider’s View (an expert on Catholic Religious Order child sex abuse)

Seriously, I think that a survivors’ forum would be good. The Church needs to stop pretending that “audits” of dioceses and religious orders are enough. It needs to recognize the role of the laity, both in covering up for abuse in the past and in preventing it in the present.


Hand over Vatican records to the police.‬

12) Raven

I get too strong and emotional at meetings to speak it’s probably best with my level of rage to do a loud protest somewhere. But my level of emotion and strength could show to people How deeply wounded you are by Catholic sex abuse.