Athol Books Magazine Articles

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/heresia/public_html/current-magazines/readers/full_article.php on line 74

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/heresia/public_html/current-magazines/readers/menu.php on line 2

Articles

All Articles
Articles By Author
Articles By Magazine
Articles By Subject
Full Text Search

Athol Books

Aubane Historical Society
The Heresiarch Website
Athol Books Online Sales
Athol Books Home Page
Archive Of Articles From Church & State
Archive Of Editorials From Church & State
Archive Of Articles From Irish Political Review
Archive Of Editorials From Irish Political Review
Belfast Historical & Educational Society
Athol Books Secure Online Sales

Other Sites

Irish Writer Desmond Fennell
The Bevin Society
David Morrison's Website

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/heresia/public_html/current-magazines/readers/subscribe.php on line 2

Subscribe Securely To
Athol Books Magazines

Church & State (Print) Church & State (Digital)
Irish Foreign Affairs (Print) Irish Foreign Affairs (Digital)
Irish Political Review (Print) Irish Political Review (Digital)
Labour & Trade Union Review (Print)

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/heresia/public_html/current-magazines/readers/readfull.php on line 2
From: Church & State: Editorials
Date: October, 2018
By: Editorial

Liberalism, Fianna Fail And The Industrial Schools

The barrage of anti-Catholic and anti-national invective that poured out of the Irish media during the recent visit of the Pope revealed much about Irish liberalism. For one thing most media commentators have an apparent inability to place difficult issues, like the child abuse that occurred in Industrial Schools, in any sort of coherent historical perspective. The tendency has been to childishly reject the entire legacy of national independence while describing the traditional nationalist narrative as childish.
If maturity in public understanding of history and politics is to be a genuine aspiration, then let it be so. That the independent Irish State oversaw abusive treatment of some of its vulnerable citizens does not nullify the achievement of setting up an independent democracy. Nor does it nullify the positive achievements of the State, especially in the de Valera era but also in later periods, in the areas of social welfare, public housing, education, protective industrialisation, foreign policy and so on. A mature Nation State should be able to acknowledge incidences of negligence committed under its authority without proclaiming its existence to be the result of an unfortunate historical accident.

A survivor of the industrial school system whose book about his experiences was published in the late eighties, Paddy Doyle, has made available on the Internet a timeline of the industrial school story. A reference to Charles Haughey in the timeline fits neatly with the liberal narrative while distorting the historical record. It states:

"1978: A child care worker at Madonna House kidnapped a boy in his care, took him to Edinburgh and drowned him in a bath in a hotel. The Minister for Health, Charles Haughey, rejected a call for a public enquiry into the matter, stating that it would serve no useful purpose."

The statement is no doubt true but historical understanding of the issue is skewed by an insinuated charge of complicity. Haughey was one of a group of Fianna Fail representatives who defied the formidable atmosphere of espiscopal dictatorship that persisted in Ireland right up until the 1990s.
In the 1960s Haughey, Donogh O'Malley and Brian Lenihan, close political associates, set in train a process that led to a State inquiry into the Industrial Schools that resulted in the closure of the main ones in the 1970s. Their actions on the issue were resisted at every turn by supporters of Catholic power—from the Church itself, from the political world and from the civil service—all of whom no doubt acted in good faith. That this coterie in Fianna Fail was able to achieve a measure of success—the provision of free secondary education was another of their projects—is a matter of no small significance and would not have been possible without the liberalising influence of the Second Vatican Council.

The first official move against the industrial school system was the establishment of an Interdepartmental Committee on the Prevention and Treatment of Offenders by Haughey in 1962. Speaking at the Parnell Summer School last year, Dr. Fiachra Byrne from the School of History at University College Dublin is reported as follows on the subject:

"He said the first significant changes to State thinking on the needs of delinquent children and adults included contributions from psychologists and an interdepartmental committee set up by Haughey when he was minister for justice in 1962" (IT, 16 August 2017).

Dr. Byrne is not an apologist for Fianna Fail but a member of a team researching the mental health of juveniles in custodial institutions as part of a major project called, Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000.

Haughey's initiative indicated that the State had an interest in arguments being made by psychologists and campaigners like Fr. Michael Sweetman. It signified that the treatment of children in Irish institutions was henceforth recognised as a suitable subject for official investigation. In itself the Interdepartmental Committee did little to change the Industrial Schools, but it signalled that the days of official blindness/neglect/connivance were over.

The next development was the establishment in early 1968 of the Kennedy Committee of Inquiry into Reformatory and Industrial Schools by then Minister for Education Donogh O'Malley. The Committee was chaired by District Justice Eileen Kennedy with the instruction from the Minister, "I want the skin pulled off this pudding" (Minister describes steps to uncover abuse in 1960s, IT, 14 May 1999). When the full horror of the Industrial Schools was becoming public knowledge in 1999, Micheal Martin, who was Fianna Fail Minister for Education at that time, referred to the Kennedy Committee in the Dail. The following is from an Irish Times report of what he said:

"Mr Martin said that the committee members visited Daingean in February 1968. 'Their impression of it was a dismal place which should be closed as soon as possible.'
They asked the manager about corporal punishment, and he replied 'openly and without embarrassment that ordinarily the boys were called out of the dormitories after they had retired and that they were punished on one of the stairway landings'.
When asked if the boys were stripped, he replied that at times they were. Asked why he allowed boys to be stripped naked for punishment, he replied, 'in a matter-of-fact manner, that he considered punishment to be more humiliating when it was administered in that way'.
Mr Martin said that District Justice Kennedy, who chaired the committee, wrote to the Department on this and other matters and received a reply which dealt with everything but the punishment.
'While giving assurances about the closure of Daingean, assurance about the punishments stopping seem only to have been given as a result of significant disputes, the exact details of which do not seem to be documented.'
Mr Martin said that the exception to this was an April 1970 letter from the Secretary of the Department of Justice to the Secretary of the Department of Education. The Secretary of the Department of Justice wrote that the official of his Department who was a member of the committee had signed the report on the basis of assurances that the Daingean punishments would be stopped.
He wrote: 'To sign a report which made no reference to the situation about punishment in Daingean would, in the absence of evidence that the practice had ceased, be to appear to acquiesce in a practice which is indefensible and for the continuance of which the Minister for Justice could not avoid some official responsibility arising out of his having registered Daingean as a suitable place of detention under the Children Acts.'
Mr Martin said that the secretary's next comment revealed much about the approach to abuse, even of concerned people:
'On the other hand, to make any reference, however oblique, to this particular method of punishment in Daingean would be likely to lead to a disclosure of the situation and, in this way, to cause a grave public scandal'…" (IT, 14 May 1999)

A battle was being fought in 1968 to close down the Industrial Schools. Micheal Martin took the view in 1999 that even concerned people at the time did not wish to cause public scandal and that this demonstrated the need for "everything to be out in the open". But this is to judge actions outside of their historical context. If the officials pressing for closure had conducted their campaign in the full glare of publicity, their project could easily have ended in defeat.

Donogh O'Malley died in a car accident in March 1968 at a very early stage in the work of the Kennedy Committee. What happened after his death can be surmised from the following:

"The committee received little assistance in its work, said Mr Martin. 'The behaviour of many managers and officials has been described to me as at best silently obstructive. It was due to the direct intervention of the new Minister, Brian Lenihan, that the committee was given a proper secretariat'…" (IT, 14 May 1999).

So Brian Lenihan inherited responsibility for the Committee and made sure that it had the requisite resources and political backing to complete its work, no small feat in the circumstances. As a result of the work of the Committee and of its 1970 Report, the Industrial Schools in Artane, Marlborough House, Letterfrack and Daingean were closed and child care in institutions was earmarked as a category of social provision sorely in need of enlightened reform.

The closure of Industrial Schools should not be seen in isolation from social welfare reforms that enabled unmarried mothers to keep their babies. During the 1970s and 1980s Fianna Fail spearheaded many reforms in that area. Recommendations from both of the Commissions on the Status of Women laid the basis for reform legislation.

There were others in Fianna Fail who supported the view that the power of the Catholic Church needed to be curtailed—Mary O'Rourke, Brian Lenihan's sister, carried the baton of secular reform in the 1990s when she championed the cause of an Education Act, as did Maire Geoghegan-Quinn when she enacted the decriminalisation of homosexuality—but Haughey, O'Malley and Lenihan were the pioneers of such reform in the sixties.

Contrary to the misconceived belief of many historians that celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Rising in 1966 helped sow the seeds of the republican violence that later broke out in the North—the causes of the Northern conflict are to be found in the way that Northern Ireland was created as a political entity—the most important by-product of the 1966Commemoration was that it fired up the reforming zeal of the Southern political system. This had different manifestations in different political parties but in Fianna Fail it manifested through the work of Donogh O'Malley and his associates.
It is important to acknowledge that the reformers in Fianna Fail were not motivated by a desire to undermine Catholicism. The opinion of a reforming official that disclosure of the punishments being meted out in the Industrial Schools would cause a "grave public scandal" and was thus to be avoided, was probably shared by many of those pressing for reform. Change was being effected with minimum social polarisation and with minimum damage being inflicted on Catholicism as the majority religion; the process thus took the form of a natural political evolution.

I can think of only two media commentators—John Healy who developed his talents in the Irish Press before moving to the Irish Times and John Walsh, a long term educational correspondent with the Irish Independent—who lent journalistic support to the Fianna Fail reformers. Contemporary liberalism which seems to have merged with feminism and which is heavily media based, judges Ireland to be a backward province of the Anglo Saxon part of the West. From that standpoint Brian Lenihan and the officials who supported the Kennedy Committee were remiss in failing to understand the need for "everything to be out in the open". Yet by delivering the Kennedy Report without a major scandal Lenihan laid the basis for the closure of the largest of the Industrial Schools without causing a searing divide between liberal reformers and traditionalists. Present day liberals would be well advised to take a leaf from his book.

Those commentators and activists who took the opportunity of the Pope's visit to put the boot into the Catholic Church want a complete break with the past. Their agenda does not constitute a development of Irish society, but rather a new beginning for the country as a province of Ameranglia. It is difficult to figure out what direction Micheal Martin is leading Fianna Fail but most of the time it seems to be towards a pragmatic accommodation with the liberal/feminist ideologues who populate the media. More's the pity he's not in the Haughey-O'Malley-Lenihan mould.
Dave Alvey



CONTENTS
Liberalism, Fianna Fail And The Industrial Schools. Dave Alvey
A Film To Remember. Angela Clifford, Malachi Lawless, Fergus O Rahallaigh on Black '47
Seamus Heaney And Dr. Kiely. Wilson John Haire
Note on 'Ireland To-Day'. Brendan Clifford
The Abbey Theatre Attacked (Ireland Today 1937) John Dowling
'Symbiosis' in America? John Minahane (Part 15 of the Spanish Polemic on Colonisation)
Vox Pat. Pat Maloney: Bunreacht na hÉireann; Irish Court Case??? A Sense of Place; More British than the Brits; Ephemera; CASTING pearls at . . . ; British Modesty! Neutrality?; Divine Right; Veg-Free US! US v GB: Ambition And Avarice! UCC at work! Haldane v. Churchill; Papal Visit; Lawyers Whinging! Happiness? Sublime to the . . .; Cork Famine Commemoration
Shaw: Great War Propagandist! Brendan Clifford
Reliquae Baxterianae. Stephen Richards (Part 1)
Peace Loving Fascists, Henry Williamson and Oswald Mosley. Peter Brooke
CONTENTS
Liberalism, Fianna Fail And The Industrial Schools. Dave Alvey
A Film To Remember. Angela Clifford, Malachi Lawless, Fergus O Rahallaigh on Black '47
Seamus Heaney And Dr. Kiely. Wilson John Haire
Note on 'Ireland To-Day'. Brendan Clifford
The Abbey Theatre Attacked (Ireland Today 1937) John Dowling
'Symbiosis' in America? John Minahane (Part 15 of the Spanish Polemic on Colonisation)
Vox Pat. Pat Maloney: Bunreacht na hÉireann; Irish Court Case??? A Sense of Place; More British than the Brits; Ephemera; CASTING pearls at . . . ; British Modesty! Neutrality?; Divine Right; Veg-Free US! US v GB: Ambition And Avarice! UCC at work! Haldane v. Churchill; Papal Visit; Lawyers Whinging! Happiness? Sublime to the . . .; Cork Famine Commemoration
Shaw: Great War Propagandist! Brendan Clifford
Reliquae Baxterianae. Stephen Richards (Part 1)
Peace Loving Fascists, Henry Williamson and Oswald Mosley. Peter Brooke