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Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland$

Moira J. Maguire

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780719080814

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719080814.001.0001

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The abused child?

The abused child?

Chapter:
(p.150) 5 The abused child?
Source:
Precarious Childhood in Post-Independence Ireland
Author(s):

Moira Maguire

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719080814.003.0006

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the physical and sexual violence to which children were subjected in twentieth-century Ireland. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), in spite of its founding mission to protect children from ‘cruelty,’ rarely dealt with explicit cases of cruelty, abuse, or assault in the course of their daily rounds. The use of corporal punishment in national schools is then discussed. Children were subject to a significant degree of sexual violence in twentieth-century Ireland. Sentencing and conviction patterns show that sexual crimes against children were not treated as serious, and no one recognized the potentially harmful long-term effects of sexual abuse on children. Irish society at all levels tolerated a degree of violence against children that was striking in its regularity and routineness.

Keywords:   physical violence, sexual violence, Ireland, ISPCC, corporal punishment, national schools, children, sexual abuse

Introduction

As previous chapters have suggested, the life of the illegitimate child, or the poor child whose parents for whatever reas on could not or would not care for them according to middle-class standards, could be grim. Many children spent all or parts of their childhood in industrial schools, county homes, or exploitative and abusive foster homes either because their parents violated society's standards of sexual purity and “respectability” or because ISPCC inspectors and district court justices decided their parents were unfit. One can imagine that the system that prevailed to deal with ”problem” children in the first half of the twentieth century inflicted a significant degree of psychological violence on them, although the effect on children of social policy was scarcely, if ever, questioned. The plight of children in state care – either in institutions or foster homes – suggests a more general attitude of indifference towards children and childhood that was also reflected in official attitudes toward and treatment of physical and sexual violence against children. ISPCC case files, Department of Education complaint files, court records, newspaper accounts, and autobiographical accounts of Irish childhood, all reveal a sustained pattern of violence that was striking in its regularity and in its acceptance. These sources suggest that children were subjected to a remarkable degree of physical and sexual violence in their homes, schools, and communities. Some of this violence was upheld as legitimate parental authority over children, while other forms of violence, like child sexual abuse, were ignored or minimized because dealing with it would have revealed the shaky foundations upon which Ireland's (p.151) supposed moral superiority were based.

The “discovery” of child sexual abuse in the 1980s tends to overshadow the fact not only that child sexual abuse has a far longer history than that but, more importantly, that knowledge did exist of the extent and dangers of child sexual abuse in the early part of the twentieth century. But a variety of prejudicial and institutional barriers conspired to prevent the state from protecting children who had no one else to protect them. (Some of these barriers are discussed in Chapter 4.) This chapter, drawing on the wide array of sources mentioned above, examines the physical and sexual violence to which children were subjected in twentieth-century Ireland to again point out the enormous gap between official declarations of concern for “life,” and for child life in particular, and the precariousness of life for children, even those who theoretically had two parents to protect them from the vagaries and pitfalls of human existence.

Assault and abuse in the home

One might assume, given the active involvement of the ISPCC in court proceedings that committed children to industrial schools, that ill-treatment or abuse was a significant factor in the committal of children to industrial schools. This was not the case at all; less than 1 per cent of children were committed to industrial schools in any given year as a result of abuse or ill-treatment (including sexual assault).1 Only 13 of the nearly 400 ISPCC case files examined here dealt with assault or physical abuse, and two of these involved complaints against teachers (the parents in these cases sought the ISPCC's help in bringing their complaints to the attention of the appropriate authority).2 A small handful of parents were prosecuted for ill-treating their children, but this seems to have been the exception rather than the rule. Only two such cases surfaced in an extensive survey of regional and local newspapers, and fourteen in a survey of circuit court records. John Collins was prosecuted in 1951 for “ill-treating” a 2-year-old child, his wife's illegitimate daughter.3 According to witnesses and medical testimony, the defendant beat the child repeatedly over a number of months, to the extent that her face was swollen and bruised, and threatened to hang her. Collins was convicted, but his punishment suggests either that the district justice did not view his behavior in all that serious a light, or perhaps he was excused because the child was not his. Collins was fined £5 and ordered to pay court costs. There is no evidence that the child was removed from the home, and therefore no evidence that any action was taken to protect her from future beatings. All of this might suggest that abuse and ill-treatment were not significant issues in twentieth-century Ireland. But (p.152) when one considers the accounts of twentieth-century Irish childhood that have been published in recent years, it seems that corporal punishment, that by today's standards might be regarded as abuse, was fairly commonplace, so commonplace that many people discuss it in their autobiographical narratives as if it was a normal part of everyday life.

Parents appear to have enjoyed an almost unfettered right to punish their children in whatever way they saw fit, so long as it did not result in serious injury or death (although, as will be seen, even in cases of death exceptions could be made). Public discussion of the right of parents to punish their children was rare in mid-twentieth-century Ireland, and the available evidence indicates that corporal punishment was widely used by parents and generally accepted as necessary to discipline children at home. Children in theory were protected from assault and ill-treatment by the Children Act (1908) (amended by the 1957 Children Act), and the various Offences Against the Person Acts:

If any person over the age of sixteen years [amended to 17 years in 1957], who has the custody, charge or care of any child or young person, wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons, or exposes such child or young person or causes or procures such child or young person to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned, or exposed in a manner likely to cause such child or young person unnecessary suffering or injury to his health (including injury to or loss of sight or hearing, or limb, or organ of the body, and any mental derangement), that person shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.4

The penalties for conviction under this section of the Children Act ranged from a £25 fine or six months’ imprisonment for a summary conviction, to a £100 fine or two years’ imprisonment on indictment. (These penalties were not increased under the 1957 legislation.) However, the theoretical legal protection afforded to children under the Children Acts was diluted by a provision that specifically upheld a parent's right to punish his or her child: “Nothing in the Part of this Act shall be construed to take away or affect the right of any parent, teacher, or other person having the lawful control or charge of a child or young person to administer punishment to such child or young person.”5 This proviso might explain why there were so few prosecutions for assault or ill-treatment under the Children Act. Parents were more likely to be prosecuted under this Act for failing to support their children than for ill-treating or assaulting them.6

ISPCC case files suggest that even the ISPCC, whose founding mission was to protect children from abuse and neglect, turned a blind eye to what they regarded as legitimate or necessary discipline on the part of parents, even if it crossed the line into abuse by twenty-first-century standards. Of the ISPCC case files examined, only 11 dealt explicitly with ill-treatment (p.153) or assault by parents or other family members.7 The most extreme cases of what would be regarded as “abuse” seem to have been categorized in ISPCC case files under the heading of “assault” – only 5 files were designated as assault. What is interesting about these cases was the way ISPCC inspectors often dismissed violence against children as a by-product of conflicts between husband and wife. In 1938 Wexford a woman complained that when her husband returned home drunk one night he assaulted one of his sons.

The ISPCC report pointed out, however, that although the father smacked the child with a fist and threw him to the ground, he did not inflict “grievous bodily harm.”8 This was the extent of the report's commentary on the alleged assault against the child, and the father was never held accountable for his actions. The case was officially closed in September 1938, but there is no evidence that the ISPCC inspector conducted supervisory visits in the months between April and September, or took any other action to protect the child. The ISPCC was called to the home again in June 1939 for similar reasons, and this time they noted that the problems in the home were the result of conflicts between husband and wife: “Mother complains that father will not work and is careless of his duties towards his children. Father said he cannot get employment. Both parents are rather difficult, the man is hot-tempered and his wife inclined to nag him which he resents.”9 Reading between the lines, one might conclude that the ISPCC inspector, who was probably male (the ISPCC had a tendency of recruiting inspectors who were male and ex-military) regarded the man's violent behavior as legitimate given that his wife “nagged” him and, presumably, challenged his authority in the home.

The ISPCC's view that a nagged father could not help himself when he accidentally injured his children was also evident in a court case from 1947 Co. Kerry. William Corkery was charged at the Listowel District Court with assaulting his daughter Bridget, aged six: “On April 25 when the defendant arrived home, having drink taken, they had the usual quarrel. He put his wife outside the door and she called out their six year old girl to her. He went out to pull the child in. The mother strove to keep the child outside and the father tried to bring in the child. In the tussle the child's arm was broken.”10 The district justice was extremely cavalier in his attitude towards this case: “If you have a nagging wife, the thing to do is to leave her. Drink won’t cure it. So said District Justice Kenny B.L., at Listowel Court when imposing a suspensory sentence of six months not to be enforced if he be of good behaviour for two years, on William Corkery, Muckenagh, Lixnaw, who was charged with wilfully assaulting his six years old daughter, Bridget.”11 The injury Bridget sustained was dismissed as an unfortunate (p.154) result of the scuffle between her parents: “there was no intent to injure the child. The injury happened in the tussle.”12 The response of court authorities to this case could be considered outrageous by contemporary standards. In suggesting that a man should leave a “nagging wife” Justice Kenny dismissed the effect that the man's drinking had on his family's physical and financial well-being, and he ignored the fact that Irish society in the twentieth century did not provide viable options, whether through counselling, intervention, or divorce, for dysfunctional families. His dismissive attitude towards the child's injury was indicative of the marginalization of children generally in twentieth-century society. The child's injury was secondary to the conflict between husband and wife and was therefore insignificant in the “big picture.”

A case from 1953 Wexford reveals the tensions that could exist in a family when its members did not conform to social and moral norms and expectations, tensions that could erupt into violence against children. The complainant in this case was the mother of a 10-year-old girl; she wrote to the ISPCC on at least four occasions between September and November 1953 after returning from England and discovering that her child had allegedly been the victim of repeated assaults at the hands of her father:

I am sorry to have to make this complaint against my father. But he has been very cruel to my child. I am not living with my husband as he is not the father. I come over here to earn my own living. I shall be most grateful if you will call at [a neighbor's house]. One day he hit her on the head with an ash plant and a big lump rose it, another day he aimed to stick a sprong in her. In any case I am not leaving her there. I must bring her back with me. There are plenty of places here where they don’t object to one child. Please inspector don’t tell my father I wrote this letter or life won’t be worth living. He has a desperate temper.13

Although this woman wrote at least four letters calling the ISPCC's attention to her plight, when the ISPCC inspector visited the house the woman and her mother tried to prevent him from confronting the father/husband about the alleged assaults:

When about three hundred yards from the house I met an aged woman and a child who answered the description of those I wanted. Having told them who I was the grandmother said: “Everything is alright now. Her mother is home and we don’t want to have anymore noise about it. Twould only make matters worse and we could not live in the house with him anymore.” She then said “Don’t go near the house or let him see you.” I then sent the child for the mother.14

In a postscript to his report the ISPCC inspector indicated his inclination to believe the woman's account of her father's treatment of her child:

The mother appears honest and truthful. She showed me the marks on the child's legs – already described. She admitted that the child was bold and (p.155) difficult to manage and she also stated that the child was not of the marriage and her husband … who is in England knew of the child's existence but was not responsible for her maintenance. Therefore she could not take her to him. The maternal grandfather believed she was of the marriage, if he thought or heard the true story they could not live with him. She asked me not to visit him.15

In spite of the mother and grandmother's obvious fear, the ISPCC inspector did confront the man about his treatment of his grandchild:

[the man] appeared and came over the road to us. Told him who I was and the object of my visit. I then gave him the usual caution per Inspector's Page 45. He said “I did beat her with a rod because she broke the locks on my cases. I could not have patience with her. She is too bold and difficult to manage.” I then warned him and told him how serious it was for a strong man such as he was to assault a child of tender years. He said “I am sorry but I lost my temper.” As already mentioned the mother does not want to hear any more about it. She is taking her to England.16

The women in this household clearly lived in fear of their father/grandfather/husband, and the man admitted that he beat the child. And yet the inspector did nothing beyond “warning” the man, and he seems to have accepted the mother's wish “not to hear any more about it.”17 This case had a number of complicating features that likely shaped the ISPCC inspector's response. The child was illegitimate and, although her grandfather did not know this, it likely influenced the ISPCC inspector's view of her “worthiness” when it came to protection. And both the mother and grandfather stated that the child was “bold” and “difficult to manage,” which implies that the child brought the assault on herself and that she required correction and discipline. The fact that the ISPCC inspector did nothing more than warn the man suggests that he did not take an overly serious view of the case.

Another case from 1939 further illustrates the ISPCC's cavalier attitude when it came to allegations of assault or abuse of children. A neighbor wrote a letter to the ISPCC in which he alleged that the father of the house was “semi-savage” and beat his children regularly. When the ISPCC inspector visited the home he found that the oldest son, aged 12 years, was in the hospital suffering from a hip injury: “The boy is in the county hospital Wexford for the past month, it is alleged that his hip was injured by a kick inflicted by the father. I interviewed … sister of the boy and she stated that the boy complained to her that his father had kicked him. She took the boy to [doctor] some days later and he ordered him to hospital.”18 The boy's doctor testified that the boy's hip was tubercular and that there was no evidence of violence. On the other hand he acknowledged that if the child had been the victim of blows or kicks to his hip, resulting injuries could render his hip condition “acute.” The ISPCC inspector seemed to accept the father's denials and let him off with a warning.19

(p.156) The ISPCC, in spite of its founding mission to protect children from “cruelty,” rarely dealt with explicit cases of cruelty, abuse, or assault in the course of their daily rounds. And when they did confront blatant and not so blatant cases of abuse or assault they appear to have looked for reasons to reaffirm a parent's right to discipline his or her children. In some cases the abusive treatment of children was dismissed as an inevitable by-product of conflicts between parents (for example, when a woman “nagged” her husband and drove him to violence). In other cases, the children themselves were implicitly blamed for being “bold,” “unmanageable” and, even, illegitimate. There was not a single instance, in the ISPCC case files examined here, in which a parent or grandparent was prosecuted for assaulting his or her child or in any way held accountable.

The right, and indeed the duty, of parents to discipline their children, with corporal punishment if necessary, was often re-affirmed in the courts, where it was not unusual for district justices to exhort parents to “beat” or “thrash” errant children. In a 1930 case before the Roscommon District Court the district justice advised the father of two boys, who were charged with housebreaking, to punish them more severely:

Justice: “What this boy wants is a good thrashing.”

[Boy's father]: “I gave him the rod severely.”20

The district justice adjourned the case against the older boy and committed the younger boy to an industrial school where he would receive the punishment he was lacking at home. In another case from 1930 the district justice suggested to a woman that her son might attend school more regularly if she beat him occasionally. The mother replied that she did beat her son, which typically caused him to run away from home for several days at a time.21

In the Birr children's court in 1953 a 12-year-old girl was charged with the larceny of a pocket watch. The girl's father told the district justice that when he heard about the theft he gave her “a few right beatings.”22 The district justice was “satisfied the father was the type of man who would look after [the girl]” and he adjourned the case for six months, warning the father that “whether or not the girl would be sent away rested entirely on … the control he would exercise over [her] during that period.”23 In another case from 1953 a father told the district justice that he had given his sons “a good beating” after they were caught stealing. The justice replied that “he was satisfied that it was not the father's fault that the boys had done what they did. He gave them a good hiding and it was no less than what they deserved.”24 In the Dublin children's court in 1957 District Justice O’Nunain advised a mother that “a few whacks of a stick” would bring her delinquent son “to his senses.”25 In short, some district justices appear to have believed (p.157) that juvenile delinquency stemmed, in part, from parents’ failure to use corporal punishment to keep their children in line, and they encouraged parents to take their responsibilities in this regard more seriously.

Not only did the courts reaffirm a parent's right and responsibility to use corporal punishment, but the Summary Jurisdiction over Children (Ireland) Act of 1884 also gave courts the authority to hand down corporal punishment sentences on delinquent children: “When the child is a male the court may, instead of any other punishment, adjudge the child to be, as soon as practicable, privately whipped with not more than six strokes of a birch rod by a constable, in the presence of an inspector or other office of police of higher rank than a constable, and also in the presence, if he desires to be present, of the parent or guardian of the child.”26 In 1949 seven boys were convicted in the Bray children's court of malicious damage; four of the boys’ parents were ordered to pay restitution while the remaining three parents were ordered to beat their children in the presence of the police. One parent refused to carry out the sentence, and the district justice insisted that if the boy's parents “were determined to spoil him,” he had no choice but to send the boy to Marlborough House for one month.27 In the aftermath of this ruling a question was raised in the Dáil about the wisdom of allowing district justices to pass corporal punishment sentences, but the Minister for Justice stated that he did not plan to alter the law.28 The 1997 Criminal Law Act finally abolished the right of courts to impose corporal punishment sentences.

A case that clearly illustrates the judicial affirmation of a parent's right to administer corporal punishment arose in 1967 when a 6-year-old boarded-out child, Mary Josephine Stephenson, died following a severe beating by her foster father, Vincent Dunphy. Dunphy's own testimony suggests that the beating he inflicted on Mary Josephine could not in any way be classified as moderate or acceptable even by the standards of the day, and in fact it appears to have been a brutal, unprovoked assault. Dunphy wakened Mary Josephine at nearly midnight so that he could be punish her:

He [Dunphy] asked her why she had left her face cloth in the basin and not put it away. She got out of bed to do this. He took a towel off the bed and held it in a ball in his right hand. He struck her on the face. It was more a push than a blow. She staggered back and fell. Then she got up again and came towards him. He asked her why she pretended to be asleep and she said she had been asleep. Then he hit her again with the towel. This went on four or five times. About the fourth or fifth time she looked a bit groggy and she slumped to the ground.29

Dunphy justified the assault by claiming that Mary Josephine was “difficult” and told lies. He stated that during the three weeks prior to the assault that led to her death she had become particularly difficult and every day he (p.158) “had to hit her with the palm of [his] hand across the face.”30 Neighbors testified that they had not seen Mary Josephine in the week or so immediately before her death but that prior to that they often saw her with bruises, scratches, and black eyes, suggesting a sustained pattern of beatings.

The judge's charge to the jury reveals an ambivalent attitude toward Mr Dunphy's actions. He cautioned the jury that they must

approach this case on the basis that the accused is a man who sincerely believes that physical punishment was the proper way to deal with any offences this child committed. Even if you hold the view that excessive punishment was used that, by itself, does not mean that he intended to do serious injury to the child. It does not follow from the fact that there was regular punishment that it was necessarily given with the intention of causing serious injury or what was done on this evening was something dangerous. [emphasis added] It's a matter for you to decide but I think it is probable that when the child fell she struck her head, setting in motion a chain of events that resulted in her death.31

In effect the judge seemed willing to absolve Vincent Dunphy of responsibility for Mary Josephine's death, suggesting that Dunphy was justified in inflicting corporal punishment under the circumstances. He could not have foreseen, when he beat her, that she would fall back, bang her head, and die. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and Dunphy was sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment. Dunphy's solicitor argued that this sentence was too harsh given a parent's legal right to punish his or her child.32

Official data on corporal punishment in the home, while admittedly limited, nonetheless points clearly to the conclusion that parents were free to use corporal punishment without interference from the ISPCC or the courts. Indeed, district justices often expressed the view that parental corporal punishment would compel errant children to attend school regularly or prevent some petty crimes. The law that protected children from assault and ill-treatment also upheld the right of parents to punish their children. It seems that no one, including district justices, wanted to attempt to define the boundaries between legitimate parental punishment, on the one hand, and assault and ill-treatment on the other. The ISPCC, whose founding mission was to protect children from cruelty and abuse, spent more time tracking down parents who failed to maintain their children financially than they did investigating allegations of cruelty and abuse.33 Even in cases where evidence of “cruelty,” ill-treatment, or assault existed, the ISPCC often brushed it off as insignificant or justified given the child's behavior, or as an unfortunate by-product of conflicts between parents.

(p.159) Corporal punishment in national schools

The Department of Education was responsible for regulating the use of corporal punishment in national schools, and regulations changed very little from the 1930s to the early 1980s when corporal punishment was finally abolished. Official regulations notwithstanding, however, corporal punishment was used widely to maintain discipline in schools, violations of the regulations were commonplace and, for the most part, ignored by the Department of Education. Even as public opinion began to turn against the use of corporal punishment in national schools from the 1950s, successive Ministers for Education consistently refused even to consider abolishing corporal punishment in national schools.34

From the 1930s right through to the 1980s the following regulations guided the use of corporal punishment in schools (with some slight modifications):

1) Corporal punishment should be administered only for grave transgression – [never for failure in lessons (this last phrase was deleted in 1931 and added again in 1946)]; 2) The Principal Teacher only should inflict the corporal punishment. An interval of at least ten minutes should elapse between the offence and the punishment; 3) Only a light cane or rod may be used for the purpose of inflicting the corporal punishment. The boxing of children's ears, the pulling of their hair, and similar ill treatment are absolutely forbidden, and will be visited with severe penalties; 4) No teacher should carry about a cane or other instrument of punishment; 5) Frequent recourse to corporal punishment will be considered by the Department as indicating bad tone and ineffective discipline.35

The available evidence suggests that corporal punishment was commonplace and that parents themselves generally supported a teacher's right to punish their children.36 This view is reinforced by the memoirs and autobiographical accounts of Irish childhood in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. In a 1969 newspaper article setting out the argument in favor of abolishing corporal punishment in national schools, Lawrence Murphy recalled his own schooldays and the fear instilled in himself and his classmates by some of the teachers. He recalled that “the slower students – in my class of which I was a member, would be lined up by the teacher's desk each to receive one strap across the hand. This was the corrective measure used to give us more of an incentive to work.”37 Murphy believed that his experiences were not unique:

In some schools we have to admit that the pupils are not instilled with the concepts of human rights and dignity for the individual. Unfortunately, the Irish student in many cases has no individual rights once he enters the classroom. His dignity is stripped away from him like bark from a tree … That is how he learns, not through love of his subjects or his striving for knowledge, but rather through (p.160) terror of the consequences if he can’t come up with the right answer when the questions come around to his side of the room. To say that this is characteristic of all modern Irish schools would be ridiculous, but there are still schools, usually outside the main centres, where the lay of the strap still prevails.38

Biographical and autobiographical accounts of Irish childhood contain numerous references to corporal punishment in schools; often such references are made in passing, as if being hit in school was part of the ordinary fabric of childhood. Patrick Boland, who grew up in the Liberties, one of Dublin's poorer neighborhoods, in the 1940s, recalled that: “we children accepted the beatings as being just part of a normal school day.”39 Angeline Kearns Blain remembered, growing up in Dublin's Irishtown in the 1940s and 1950s, that the only adult who ever hit her with a stick or cane was the teacher at the local national school.40 The writers Frank O’Connor and Patrick Galvin, whose childhoods spanned the 1910s and the 1930s respectively, recalled the canes used by teachers to punish children, and both remembered that it was not unusual for the canes to break in the course of the punishment, suggesting that the punishment was inflicted with a degree of severity.41

The anecdotal evidence provided in personal histories, such as those cited above, is supported by evidence from Department of Education files. This evidence suggests that the Department was reluctant to entertain complaints lodged by parents and guardians, and often condoned or ignored even blatant violations of the corporal punishment regulations. As a rule the Department of Education dismissed parents’ complaints, even when a teacher admitted inflicting corporal punishment in a manner or for a reason that violated Departmental regulations. When the Department of Education received a complaint from a parent or guardian, the first step was to inform the parent that complaints should be raised with the school manager. This was usually done with a standard letter along the following lines: “With reference to your recent letter regarding the treatment of your son, a pupil of the above-named school, by … principal teacher of the school, you are informed that complaints of this nature should, in the first instance, be brought before the Manager, who is the person charged with the direct government of the school, and I am to request you to be so good as to state whether this has been done.”42 In many cases parents/guardians bypassed the school manager in favor of direct communications with the Department of Education. It is possible, as some complainants alleged in their letters, that they feared they would not be given a fair hearing from teachers or school managers. There is also evidence that parents/guardians complained directly to the Department of Education in cases where animosity or overt hostility existed between parents and school managers, (p.161) principals, and teachers.

On receipt of a complaint a Department of Education official wrote to the school manager informing him of the complaint and requesting a statement from himself and the teacher involved, along the following lines:

I am to enclose for your information a copy of a letter which has been received from [parent] regarding his son, a pupil of the above-named school, and I am to request you to be so good as to obtain a written statement on the matter from the teacher concerned and to forward it to the Department together with your own observations.43

If there seemed to be some merit to a complaint, or if it was of a serious nature, the Department also asked a divisional inspector to investigate and report on the matter.

Although the Department went through the motions of investigating complaints, its commitment to enforcing the corporal punishment regulations appears half-hearted at best. One case in particular testifies to the Department's unwillingness or inability to deal with serious and legitimate complaints. In February 1929 a group of parents from Currane in County Mayo wrote to the Department of Education with a litany of complaints against the principal and two assistant teachers (one of whom was the principal's wife) of the local national school, including allegations of frequent violations of corporal punishment regulations. The parents threatened to withdraw their children unless the Department addressed their concerns, and three weeks later 120 of the school's 133 pupils were withdrawn. Gardai initiated proceedings against the parents under the School Attendance Act, but the district justice adjourned the cases and called on the Department of Education to conduct an inquiry. The parents of seventeen children lodged formal complaints that their children had been beaten, while other parents complained in general terms about the way the school was run. After a thorough investigation the Department's divisional inspector found that most of the complaints in relation to the running of the school were unfounded. However, he also concluded: “that the children were punished excessively and irregularly by [the principal, his wife, and another teacher], that the corporal punishment regulations were flagrantly violated, that [the principal] burned the copy book which was stained with blood from the hand of [a pupil] and that [the teacher] did not restrain her tongue.”44

The divisional inspector recommended the removal of all three teachers; the deputy chief inspector, however, recommended that the teachers be “admonished” and fined amounts ranging from £5 to £25 for “non-observance of the rules regarding the infliction of corporal punishment.”45 The deputy chief inspector also recommended that the school manager “be informed that the inquiry reveals that he has not discharged his duty to the (p.162) Department, the teachers and the parents of the pupils.”46 In August 1932, eighteen months after the complaints were first made, the Department of Education followed the recommendations of the deputy chief inspector and fined rather than removed the teachers. In spite of the divisional inspector's findings the Department concluded “the failure of the teachers to observe the corporal punishment regulations in spirit and in fact was probably a temporary lapse on their part.”47

Three years later additional complaints were lodged against the principal teacher. The case was initially dismissed in the Achill District Court, but upheld on appeal to Castlebar Circuit Court, and the teacher was fined £5 plus costs. Following on from the court case the Department wrote to the principal and his wife advising them to seek an exchange with teachers from another school. The couple ignored this and subsequent directives, and in 1936 it seems that the Department gave up trying to compel the teachers to leave. They issued the following warning, the same warning that was issued in 1932, that

if it should be proved to the satisfaction of the Department, now or at any time in the future that … any member of the staff of the school had administered excessive or irregular punishment to children in attendance, the matter would be regarded in a very grave light and the Department, in taking appropriate action, would not refrain from inflicting the maximum penalty of withdrawal of recognition as teacher should such actions be deemed necessary in the circumstances.48

In short, after a period of seven years of complaints, inquiries, court cases, and warnings involving the same teachers, the Department was unable to remove the teachers or compel them to abide by corporal punishment regulations, and ultimately they stopped trying. The above case may be unusual in terms of its seriousness and duration, but it is a reflection of the Department's ambivalence and ineffectiveness when it came to addressing complaints about corporal punishment. In at least three cases teachers were fined and warned after serious violations of corporal punishment regulations, but subsequent complaints against the same teachers were ignored.

One teacher was fined twice by the Department, in 1932 and again in 1933, for inappropriately punishing a child. In 1932 he was accused of beating a child severely on the legs for failing in his school lessons. The teacher denied it, but the divisional inspector concluded that although the teacher was “a respectable man and a hardworking teacher,” “the boy got two or three slaps on the hands and about six blows of the cane on the legs and that his legs were marked for a few days afterwards.”49 In relation to the 1933 complaint the inspector found that “[the teacher] occasionally beat [the child] and his sister on the back …; that he used an unsuitable (p.163) rod when administering corporal punishment; that he is in the habit of punishing pupils for failure at lessons.”50 The teacher admitted punishing the child, although he denied that the punishment was inappropriate, and he suggested that “these children are very pettish in manner, and I have no doubt that they sometimes tell stories at home.”51 The Department fined the teacher £10 and warned him again of the dire consequences of further incidents. Yet another complaint was brought against this teacher in 1935. The teacher admitted slapping the child for poor performance in his Irish lessons, and several other boys gave evidence that they had been punished in similar fashion. However, the teacher denied giving the boy a black eye, as alleged by the mother. In spite of the teacher's own admission, the evidence of three other boys, and the teacher's track record, the inspector recommended that no action be taken in this instance. One gets the sense that, short of removing the teacher (which, for some reason, the Department was not inclined to do), there was little more they were willing or able to do to force the teacher's compliance to Departmental regulations.

Four additional cases illustrate the Department's tendency either to ignore complaints or to do the absolute minimum required to address them. In these cases (from 1930 Kildare, 1931 Donegal, 1935 and 1943 Galway), the parents sought transfers to other schools for their children, and once the Department sanctioned the transfers no further action was taken. The Department appears to have held the view that the transfers essentially solved the problem even when the parents’ complaints were upheld.52 The case from 1935 was particularly interesting because in the course of the investigation both the divisional inspector and the Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) complained to the Department that they took too much notice of parental complaints, the overwhelming majority of which they believed were frivolous.53

It is clear from the way the Department of Education, school managers, and teachers responded to complaints that teachers frequently and knowingly violated Department of Education regulations, and that the Department of Education often overlooked blatant violations rather than take action that might undermine the authority of teachers, principals, or school managers. Only rarely were parents’ concerns addressed by the Department of Education; in most cases the Department took months, or even years, to respond to complaints. Even when a teacher was reminded, warned, or reprimanded, the Department rarely informed parents about the outcome of their investigation but simply stated that “appropriate action” had been taken. The overall conclusion to be drawn from the available files is that the Department was, by and large, unresponsive to complaints and reluctant to hold themselves or teachers accountable for breaches of (p.164) corporal punishment regulations. In effect they tolerated the extensive use of corporal punishment, even very severe corporal punishment, in breach of their own formal regulations, and provided little if any defense of children against abuse by teachers.

Although most teachers, and perhaps even most parents, supported the use of reasonable and limited corporal punishment to maintain order and discipline in schools, a critical voice on the subject began to emerge in the late 1940s. A small but ever-growing and increasingly vocal number of parents began to complain, through the pages of a Dublin evening newspaper, about the extent of violations of corporal punishment regulations in the country's national schools, and the Department of Education's seemingly lackadaisical attitude to the problem. In 1955, following a sustained letter-writing campaign to the Evening Mail, a group of concerned parents formed the School Children's Protection Organisation with the exclusive aim of lobbying the Minister for Education to abolish corporal punishment in national schools. The hundreds of letters received by the Evening Mail in late 1954 and 1955 gave voice to parents’ concerns that violations of corporal punishment regulations were not only commonplace in the country's national schools, but also were largely ignored by the Department of Education:

Examination of the extracts from the Rules and Regulations for National Schools laid down by the Department of Education might appear to satisfy any reasonable parent that protection of their children is amply provided for. That this view is now open to grave doubt must be obvious to any honest and serious thinking person, in view of the apparently widespread failure to observe the regulations. That such a chaotic condition should exist surely justifies the making of a more conscientious and careful approach to this problem by the authorities concerned, and either the enforcement of the Regulations or the abolition of Compulsory Education.54

According to the Organisation, children were punished in national schools for a variety of “offences,” contrary to regulations including: failure at lessons; tardiness; not having copy books or other supplies; absences; and neglect of homework. The punishments meted out for these offences, which also were against regulations, included canings on various parts of the body; beatings with straps or pointers; hair pulling; and beatings with hands or fists.55

The letters published in the Evening Mail, seventy of which were reproduced in a pamphlet called Punishment in our schools, highlighted alleged abuses of the corporal punishment regulations and showed that corporal punishment was a regular feature of life in many schools (in spite of the stipulation that “frequent recourse to corporal punishment will be considered by the Department as indicating bad tone and ineffective discipline”). (p.165) The School Children's Protection Organisation suggested that the protections theoretically afforded to children by the Rules and Regulations were effectively negated by the Department of Education's reluctance to address complaints:

To administer in this unhappy situation we have thousands of teachers, school managers and attendance inspectors, numerous officials, inspectors and high executives of the Department of Education and a Minister for Education. We soon learned that all these bodies appeared in the most part to have one thing in common and in which they always presented a united front by an antagonistic approach to any voice raised in criticism. This unfortunate attitude practically nullifies the merits of the Rules and Regulations laid down by the Department and from comments in some of the letters published in this booklet, it would appear that in many cases where a conscientious parent attempts to seek an investigation of any incident relating to one of his or her children they are quickly discouraged from pursuing the matter further and very often in a most humiliating manner.56

The kind of punishment (and the reasons for the use of corporal punishment) described in these letters was not new: what was noteworthy was the growing depth of public feeling on the matter.

The Minister for Education unequivocally rejected the validity of the allegations made in the Evening Mail letters and Corporal punishment in our schools: “I want to say that as far as that publication is concerned it shows on its face to be an attack by people reared in an alien and in a completely un-Irish atmosphere and it is carried on here with the help of our Irish newspapers. It is an attack on the whole spirit of our educational system and it is an endeavour to attack our educational roots.”57 The minister also asserted that although the Department received complaints “from time to time,” they never received more than one or two such complaints per month, and that complaints were dealt with swiftly and efficiently.58 An analysis of Department of Education complaint files would suggest otherwise.

The public debate that emerged in the mid-1950s marked the beginning of the campaign to ban corporal punishment in schools, although it would take nearly 30 years to accomplish this goal. Ironically, in 1956, just when opponents of corporal punishment were becoming most vocal, the Minister for Education proposed changes to the corporal punishment regulations, that opponents of corporal punishment viewed rather ominously. The new regulations permitted the use of a strap, in addition to a light cane or rod, on the hand. The move was widely condemned, not least by the School Children's Protection Organisation: “We strongly criticise the action of the Minister for Education in authorising the use of a leather strap in order to facilitate those teachers whose tradition of correction with the leather strap (in defiance of the regulations) is now such an integral part of their (p.166) nature that they are unable to teach without it.”59 The Evening Mail article from which the above is quoted was accompanied by a cartoon depicting two children lying in hospital beds covered in bandages. One child asked the other: “Was it the cane or the strap?”60 The decision to allow the use of the strap elicited such a storm of protest that the minister was forced to revert to the old regulations, and the Irish Housewives Association joined the Schoolchildren's Protection Organisation in welcoming the minister's decision: “The Association congratulates the Minister on his courage and foresight in withdrawing permission for the use of the strap and hope that this is the first step towards the abolition of corporal punishment in schools.”61

In June 1957 the Minister for Education again proposed changes to the rules governing the use of corporal punishment. The new regulations omitted all reference to the implements that could be used to punish children, leaving it to teachers’ discretion to decide how to inflict corporal punishment. The Minister for Education assured the Dáil, however, that “… any improper or unreasonable punishment will be regarded as conduct unbefitting a teacher and will be visited with very severe sanction.”62 In effect the minister accomplished in 1957 what he was forced to backtrack on in October 1956, which was his Department's tacit sanction of the use of the strap in administering corporal punishment.

Efforts to ban corporal punishment in national schools continued unabated into the 1960s and 1970s. During question time in the Dáil on 4 May 1961 several TDs cited recent court cases in which parents successfully sued teachers who had excessively or inappropriately punished their children, and they asked the Minister for his views on the various cases. The Minister's response was equivocal:

My responsibility in the matter is twofold. On the one hand it is for me to see to it that the children are not ill treated and on the other that they receive efficient instruction. The teacher holds for the time being the place of the parent and so for the time being carries in this matter the right of the parent. In these circumstances it would be unreasonable for me to forbid the teacher to adopt any deterrent that might be adopted by a just and wise parent, and a just and wise parent might on occasion deem it necessary to inflict an adequate amount of corporal punishment in order to control the child and bring him up in the way he should go.63

The Minister re-affirmed the teacher's right to use corporal punishment without addressing the TD's specific concern – that violations of corporal punishment regulations were all too prevalent.

The rules governing the use of corporal punishment in schools were revised again in 1965. It is not clear what prompted these changes, particularly as the Department of Education's fundamental views on the matter (p.167) had not changed. The gist of the 1965 rules, as outlined in a debate in the Dáil in 1965, is as follows:

Teachers should have a lively regard for the improvement and general welfare of their pupils, treat them with kindness combined with firmness and should aim at governing them through their affections and reason and not by harshness and severity. Ridicule, sarcasm or remarks likely to undermine a pupil's self-confidence should be avoided.

Corporal punishment should be administered only in cases of misbehaviour and should not be administered for mere failure at lessons.

Any teacher who inflicts improper or excessive punishment will be regarded as guilty of conduct unbefitting a teacher and will be subject to severe disciplinary action.64

The new regulations appear to have been more ambiguous, and perhaps more open to abuse, than previous rules, and did little to ease the concerns of opponents of corporal punishment.

The anti-corporal punishment debate was re-ignited in 1967 when a 9-year-old Dublin schoolboy was awarded 1s in damages following what the court deemed to be excessive punishment administered by his teacher.65 Although the court was convinced that the teacher in question violated Department of Education regulations, the paltry damages awarded perhaps suggest the court did not take the matter all that seriously. Following on from that judgment a group called Reform was founded to lobby against corporal punishment in schools. In 1970 Reform was joined by the Irish Union of School Students (IUSS) in their campaign to end corporal punishment. In 1974 The IUSS published a brochure entitled Corporal punishment: The brutal facts, in which they attempted to quantify the use of corporal punishment in the nation's primary, secondary, and vocational schools. According to the IUSS, 84 per cent of the schools surveyed used corporal punishment of some form; the majority of these (92 per cent) were boys’ schools, while only 8 per cent of girls’ schools used corporal punishment. The survey revealed the variety of implements, including leather straps, t-squares, sticks, hurleys, and tree branches, that were used to administer corporal punishment, all in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of existing Department of Education regulations. This report concluded that “[w]hile it would seem that many teachers regard corporal punishment as a normal and useful method of class control, it would seem that there are some sadists and other sexual perverts in charge of classes in Irish schools.”66

Following the publication of this report individual TDs again put pressure on the Minister for Education to re-consider his department's position on the use of corporal punishment. The minister agreed to survey the various teaching organizations for their views on the matter. In May 1978, (p.168) when the issue was raised again in the Dáil, the minister claimed he was still waiting for responses from some of those groups; in reality it is likely that, true to form, the minister was reluctant to take decisive action on the matter. In December 1978 the minister finally reported to the Dáil on the views of the various teachers’ and managers’ associations. Of the eight groups surveyed, three opposed all forms of corporal punishment while five expressed the view that the existing rule was adequate (although two of these groups recommended the elimination of the term “corporal”).67

Those organizations that supported the use of some form of corporal punishment argued that it was necessary both to instill in children a sense of responsibility and accountability for their actions, and to counteract the bad influences and “anti-social behavior” that children acquired in their homes and neighborhoods. At the same time, there was general agreement that parents should have a voice, along with teachers and school managers, in formulating corporal punishment policy and practice. In December 1978 the Minister for Education endorsed this view:

A high standard of discipline and good behaviour is absolutely necessary in schools if they are to fulfill their educational purpose. How this is to be achieved is a matter for each individual school and each school must develop its own policy, taking into account the general directives of the Department of Education as well as the circumstances obtaining in different areas and even in individual classes. The school policy on discipline should be the result of discussion not only between the teachers and the Board of Management but it should also take into account the attitude of the parents.68

The minister also pointed out that, even if corporal punishment in limited form remained part of departmental policy, it was a “non-issue” in practice because it was no longer used in the majority of schools.69 In short, the minister seemed to be moving away from a rigid or centralized policy of corporal punishment.

But the minister still refused to commit himself to abolishing corporal punishment altogether. After a long and drawn-out statement on the matter in the Dáil the minister ran out of time and the issue was raised again during the adjournment debate, but without the Minister for Education present. During the adjournment debate several deputies voiced their outrage with the way the minister dealt with the question, as illustrated by the following statement from TD Collins:

I am looking for a clear statement from the Minister in regard to his intentions on corporal punishment and in relation to the rules for national schools, when he will revise those rules and if he will allow corporal punishment to form part of those rules and regulations. The Minister obviously tried to evade the whole question today in the manner in which he treated the House and in the grossly unsatisfactory reply he gave.70

(p.169) The Minister of State at the Department of Education expressed what appears to have been the Department's view on the matter: “a code of regulation is necessary. Such a code must provide for the imposition of sanctions in the event of a deliberate, serious and repeated transgression … Deputies know as well as I do that there are forms of punishment worse than physical punishment which can be imposed on any child. Are we to pursue the elimination of those?”71 Although the Department of Education was increasingly moving towards a more flexible code of school discipline, they were not yet prepared to eliminate corporal punishment as one tool for maintaining that discipline.

The question of the abolition of corporal punishment surfaced again on several occasions from the time of the 1978 debate until late January 1982, when corporal punishment was finally abolished with effect from 1 February 1982. Department of Education circular 9/82 set out the new regulations relating to corporal punishment:

The Minister for Education in pursuance of Government commitment to the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, has, following consultations with representatives of Teacher and Managerial Organisations, amended Rule 130 of the Rules for National Schools to read as follows:

130(1) Teachers should have a lively regard for the improvement and general welfare of their pupils, treat them with kindness combined with firmness and should aim at governing them through their affections and reason and not by harshness and severity. Ridicule, sarcasm or remarks likely to undermine a pupil's self-confidence should not be used in any circumstances.

130 (2) The use of Corporal punishment is forbidden.

130 (3) Any teacher who contravenes section (1) or (2) of this rule will be regarded as guilty of conduct unbefitting a teacher and will be subject to severe disciplinary action.72

In October 1982 the new Minister for Education, Professor Martin O’Donoghue, appointed a committee to report on how schools were maintaining discipline in the post-corporal punishment era. The committee reported in 1985 that suspension and expulsion had replaced corporal punishment as the preferred methods of dealing with serious transgressions of school rules and that, for the most part, such sanctions were effective. A dissenting memo argued that these sanctions were counter-productive because they denied the children who most needed it of education and special attention.73 In a footnote to the school punishment debate, the 1997 Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act criminalized the use by teachers of corporal punishment, and formally ended the traditional immunity that teachers enjoyed from prosecution under the Offences Against the Person Act.

(p.170) Child sexual abuse

The issue of child sexual abuse has been in the public spotlight in Ireland in recent years thanks in large measure to reports submitted by the Law Reform Commission and growing allegations of pedophilia against a number of Catholic priests, and of cover-ups by the Catholic hierarchy. The media, elements of which seem to have an anti-clerical bias, has helped to keep the issue of pedophile priests in the public spotlight and would have the public believe that only priests sexually abused children in the past.74 In fact, children were subject to a significant degree of sexual violence in twentieth-century Ireland, from a variety of sources, and available evidence suggests that parents, jurists, and the police were far from ignorant of children's vulnerability to such assaults. It was not a lack of knowledge that guided official responses to sexual assaults against children but, rather, a lack of political will to do anything about it. Judicial responses to sexual assaults against children are somewhat more difficult to interpret. On the one hand, judges and juries were inhibited from punishing some offenders because of anomalies in the law that were not rectified with the 1935 Criminal Law (Amendment) Act. On the other hand, crimes against young children do not appear to have been treated any more harshly than crimes against older teenagers or adults, and punishments overall tended to be fairly lenient.

Sentencing patterns were roughly similar across age groups: in rare cases defendants were given particularly harsh sentences but the majority of defendants were sentenced to less than twelve months’ imprisonment (with or without hard labor), and suspended sentences were not uncommon. This is important in respect of young victims because it suggests that the courts did not view the assault of a 5 or 6-year-old child as any more serious than the assault or statutory rape of a 15 or 16-year-old girl. Sentences in cases of sexual assaults against boys under 15 years of age were, on the whole, harsher than sentences in cases with under-aged female victims. Of the 33 cases examined here, only 9 defendants (or 27 per cent) were acquitted. Of the remaining 24, ten (or 42 per cent) received sentences of between one and two years’ hard labor; three (13 per cent) received sentences of 5–7 years of penal servitude. The remaining six, or 25 per cent, received sentences of between three and nine months’ hard labor.

An analysis of conviction patterns, in cases where the victims were girls, does not necessarily lend itself to any firm conclusions. The lowest rate of convictions (36 per cent) involved victims of 6–8 years of age, while the highest conviction rates (70 per cent) involved victims of 2–5 years. This is somewhat surprising on the surface given the inadmissibility of the evidence of very young victims; in general, it seems that the older the victim, (p.171) the more likely the jury was to convict.75 This discrepancy likely is due to two factors: first, many cases involving victims between the ages of 15 and 17 should be dealt with separately as many of these involved long-term, seemingly consensual relationships that came to court only when the girl involved became pregnant, or when her father or employer became aware of the relationship. Second, and more importantly, the court relied heavily on the testimony of the victim combined with corroborative evidence; in several instances juries were specifically directed to acquit defendants in cases involving very young victims (younger than ten or eleven years of age) either because the victims were unable to state in court precisely what had happened to them, or because although medical evidence confirmed a sexual assault, no corroborative evidence linked the defendant to the crime. In other words, the mere word of a young child, even when combined with medical evidence attesting to an assault having occurred, was not sufficient to secure a conviction.

Sentencing and conviction patterns suggest that sexual crimes against children were not treated as serious, and no one recognized the potentially harmful long-term effects of sexual abuse on children. Even parents seemed to evaluate crimes against their daughters based on the “harm” they caused, although this definition of harm was more physical than psychological.76 This notion of “harm” was evident in a number of cases, including one from 1929 County Monaghan. In this case a 5-year-old girl was indecently assaulted by a neighbor.77 The child's mother accosted the neighbor and he confessed, which might account for the fact that he was convicted in spite of the child's young age. The mother herself dismissed the seriousness of the crime because the doctor assured her that “there is no danger … there was nothing in but the finger.”78 This might have accounted for the sentence handed down: 12 months with hard labor suspended. The age of the child, and the fact that the doctor and mother dismissed the incident as insignificant, may have compelled the justice to “go easy” on the defendant. Another mother concluded that her 11-year-old daughter was “quite well” after a sexual assault, and that it “did her no harm.”79 The defendant in this case was acquitted.

On the other hand, a case from 1942 Donegal poignantly illustrates parental fears and suspicions with regard to sexual assaults against their children, and the lengths they went to to protect their children. MR,80 aged eleven, was responsible for fetching milk from the neighbor each evening. Her father began to suspect that a neighbor TK was harassing his daughter so he began to follow her, from a distance, each evening. The father followed his daughter on three separate evenings and, on the third evening, caught the neighbour TK in the act of assaulting her. TK was convicted (p.172) of unlawful carnal knowledge and sentenced to fifteen months’ hard labor – a relatively harsh sentence, particularly in a case involving such a young victim.81 In this case the father was suspicious, either because of rumors he had heard in town or because of the way his daughter was behaving, and he took steps to protect her. His actions likely helped to not only convict TK but also ensure that a harsh sentence was imposed.

Other parents were similarly suspicious and caught defendants in the act of molesting their children. EW, aged nine, took a shortcut home from school one day in September 1931, when she was attacked by a local man, DL. EW's brother saw DL approach his sister and told his father about the encounter between the two. The father immediately became suspicious and ran to the field looking for his daughter. In court, he stated

My son … came out home at about that time and in consequence of what he told me I went in search of [EW]. After crossing a few fields I saw [DL] rising up out of a dyke. I also saw my daughter [EW]. She got up after [DL] got up. She was crying and sobbing. I shouted to [DL]. I was then about 100 yards from him. I said “stand.” He ran away and I followed him until I was stopped. It would be about 150 yards to the point where I saw [DL] get up from where the children came home from school … I took my daughter home and I did not ask her any questions.82

DL appears to have had a reputation in the locality, which caused EW's father concern when he heard that DL had accosted his daughter. DL was convicted of unlawful carnal knowledge and sentenced to five years’ penal servitude – an extraordinarily harsh sentence that likely would not had been passed without eyewitness testimony.83

One of the biggest problems with prosecuting sexual assaults, especially assaults against children younger than ten or eleven years of age, was the inadmissibility of their evidence. Many defendants were acquitted not because the justices who heard the cases believed them to be innocent but because the evidence of the victims was disregarded. This flaw in the system was evident in the case of WN, who was accused of assaulting sisters ER and VR, aged 2 and 4 years respectively.84 Medical evidence indicated that both children had been assaulted, and VR later was diagnosed with gonorrhea. In spite of this evidence, however, WN was acquitted because the girls’ evidence was not deemed to be credible. The case of RJ had a different outcome.85 RJ was accused of assaulting 4-year-old EM. In her evidence, EM's mother testified that “on account of EM's extreme youth she is unable to come to court to give an account of it.”86 RJ was convicted because he confessed. However, he was sentenced only to keep the peace, suggesting that the justice did not see the crime as all that serious.

A noteworthy characteristic of sexual assaults against children was the (p.173) tendency of some accused to give money, sweets, or other small gifts to their victims. In some cases these gifts secured the victims’ cooperation and/or silence. But some defendants treated the sexual encounters almost as commercial transactions, with the gifts serving as “payments.” These small gifts may have ensured the cooperation and perhaps even silence of naïve and innocent young girls, but they also provided vital evidence that in some cases helped secure convictions. Eleven-year-old KC testified that, after MH assaulted her he gave her a penny and told her to “say nothing about it.”87 PJ, also eleven years old, testified that as she walked away from the man accused of assaulting her he threw a penny at her and said “Don’t tell anyone or your mother.”88 The case of WM was noteworthy because the two pence he gave his victim led to his downfall.89 When the victim, 5-year-old MO, returned home she had the two pence in her hand. Her mother asked her where she got the money, and MO confessed that she had been assaulted. In all three of these cases the accused were convicted in spite of the age of the victims, suggesting perhaps that the giving of money or other gifts implied guilt on their part. The sentences in these cases ranged from keeping the peace, in the case of RG (convicted of assaulting PJ), to twelve months with hard labor in the case of MH. WM received a sentence of six months with hard labor.

In his evidence before the Carrigan Committee Eoin O’Duffy stated his belief that the conditions of urban life, specifically overcrowding in tenements that offered no privacy and that presumably exposed young children to the realities of sex and reproduction, rendered young girls particularly vulnerable to sexual assaults. This view would suggest that sexual assaults were crimes of opportunity rather than the actions of predatory men, and that girls were most likely to be assaulted by people in their own homes or tenements – in other words, by people they knew. Court records show just how misguided O’Duffy was. Of the nearly 1,500 cases entered in the various justice minute books, only about 350, or 23 per cent, occurred in urban areas. The remainder occurred throughout the country, in small towns and tiny villages, in the victims’ own homes, in isolated fields and secluded laneways. And while many girls were assaulted by friends, neighbors, lodgers, and others who were known to them, a substantial number of victims testified to never having met the accused before the assault occurred. Parents often voiced fears or suspicions about specific men in their locality, and sometimes those fears and suspicions were translated into almost heroic efforts to protect their daughters and bring the perpetrators to justice. Such parents were working, however, against a criminal justice system and a political system that were indifferent to the vulnerability of children to sexual assaults, and that (in the case of parliament anyway) put (p.174) the protection of male sexual license above the protection of children from sexually predatory men.

An analysis of cases involving male victims under the age of fifteen years raises some interesting questions about how the courts conceived of sexual assaults against children. In their evidence to the Carrigan Committee several witnesses, including Eoin O’Duffy, indicated that sexual assaults against young girls were primarily crimes of opportunities, and not necessarily the actions of “sick” or predatory individuals. This was clearly not the case when courts evaluated the actions of male defendants accused of assaulting young boys. In at least four of the cases, the defendants, although convicted, were recommended for psychological treatment.90 Additionally, while the term “pedophile” was never used in relation to sexual offenses against girls, the medical report of one of the defendants in a case involving a male victim referred to him as a pedophile.91

One aspect of sexual crimes against males that comes to light from an examination of court records is the possibility that it was a “learned” behavior. At least four of the defendants (two of whom were teenagers themselves) admitted that they had been victims of sexual assaults at the hands of older men. The medical officer's evaluation of a 47-year-old defendant is revealing in this regard:

This man … gives one a history of indulging in masturbation since his youth. When about 17 years of age he was living in the country and was there initiated into the practice of sexual intercourse with boys. Since that time he appears to have been having regular sexual relations with boys. About 2 years ago he tells me he lost complete control of his sexual impulses and indulged freely in the practice, but during the last year he has been able to curb his desire in this direction. Apart from sexual inversion he has shown no other signs of mental instability.92

It was regarded as sexual “inversion” for a grown man to have sexual intercourse with young boys, but it was not considered either “inversion” or “perversion” for grown men to have sexual intercourse with young girls.

The idea that defendants in cases involving male victims might be psychologically disturbed or “sexually inverted” is abundantly clear in a case from 1945. The defendant in this case admitted that he had, on several occasions, put advertisements in local newspapers claiming to have a position available for a messenger. Based on the replies he received, the defendant chose his “prey” based on very specific criteria:

I placed a number in red pencil on the envelope of those people who appeared to have inferior education judging from the handwriting and style of the reply in each case. My object was that this kind of person would be more suitable for the purpose which I had in mind, namely for committing sodomy. I mean more suitable in the sense that the person would not understand what kind of offence (p.175) sodomy was and also that they would be more impressed with the work which I pretended to get for them.93

Based on these preliminary evaluations, the defendant visited several possible “candidates,” met the parents of the boys and gained their trust, and then asked the parents if he could take the boys with him to meet the potential employer. The mother of one of the victims was actually suspicious enough of the man to follow him as he accompanied her son to “meet” the employer. She essentially caught the defendant in the act and flagged down a passing policeman. Although the defendant appealed for leniency, he was given a very harsh sentence of six years’ penal servitude. Not all of the defendants in cases involving male victims were as plotting or predatory as the defendant described here. However, it does appear that male defendants intentionally put themselves into situations, such as advertising a bogus employment opportunity, or frequenting the penny arcade, where they could encounter and gain the trust of unsuspecting boys. This is an element of sexual assaults that was, for the most part, missing from cases involving female victims.

Conclusion

Children in twentieth-century Ireland were subjected to a significant degree of physical and sexual violence at the hands of parents and other family members, teachers, neighbors, friends, and even strangers. Nominal legal measures existed to protect children from such violence, but exceptions and anomalies meant that the real effect of legislation was to uphold parents’ right to punish their children, with beatings if necessary, and to protect predatory men from prosecution when they sexually assaulted young children whose evidence was not admissible in court. Regulations also existed to protect children from excessive punishment in school, although the Department of Education was, historically, reluctant to hold teachers to account even when they had clearly and willfully flouted published regulations. In short, Irish society at all levels tolerated a degree of violence against children that was striking in its regularity and routineness. Official responses to physical and sexual violence against children simply serves to reinforce the extent to which children were marginalized and their needs and best interests sacrificed to more pressing social and political agendas.

(p.176) Notes

(1) The term “abuse” did not come into common usage until the 1980s. Ill-treatment and cruelty were commonly used to describe treatment that today would be branded as abuse.

(2) This represents nearly 4 per cent of all cases. ISPCC annual reports, that summarize all cases heard by all branches in a given year, indicate that roughly 10 per cent of cases annually comprised some form of ill-treatment or assault. This discrepancy could be a function of the limited sample of the case files examined here, or it could be that ill-treatment as it was categorized in the ISPCC annual reports included cases of extreme neglect as well as assault. See ISPCC Annual Reports, 1930–1955.

(3) The Kerryman (14 July 1951), p. 4.

(4) United Kingdom Acts of Parliament, Children Act, 1908.

(5) Law Reform Commission, Report on non-fatal offenses against the person (Dublin: Law Reform Commission, 1994), p. 21.

(6) This conclusion is based on a survey of circuit court and some district court records, which revealed only thirteen prosecutions in the period 1922 to 1960. It is possible that such cases were prosecuted in district courts for which records have not survived. It is also based on a survey of ISPCC records; the ISPCC only rarely sought prosecutions in cases that constituted outright abuse or ill-treatment, but regularly sought the prosecution of parents who failed to provide financially for their children.

(7) The term “ill-treatment” seems to have been used by the ISPCC to describe extreme or severe neglect, and not just physical punishments or assaults.

(8) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 30 April 1938.

(9) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 21 June 1939.

(10) The Kerryman, First edition, (14 June 1947), p. 5.

(11) The Kerryman, First edition, (14 June 1947), p. 5.

(12) The Kerryman, First edition, (14 June 1947), p. 5.

(13) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(14) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(15) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(16) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(17) It should be noted that the ISPCC definition of “warning” is somewhat sketchy. It did not, for example, imply that the ISPCC inspector believed that the parent had done anything wrong. The warning likely was more of a generic reminder to the parent of his/her responsibilities to his/her child.

(18) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 9 May 1939.

(19) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 9 May 1939.

(20) Connacht Tribune (25 January 1930), p. 5.

(21) Connacht Tribune (1 March 1930), p. 3. See also Offaly Chronicle (16 April 1942), p. 1; Offaly Chronicle (19 May 1954), p. 1; Evening Mail (2 May 1956), p. 5.

(22) Offaly Chronicle (18 March 1953), p. 1.

(23) Offaly Chronicle (18 March 1953), p. 1.

(24) Offaly Chronicle (2 December 1953), p. 4.

(25) Evening Mail (10 July 1957), p. 5. See also Evening Mail (31 December 1947), p. 6.

(26) A report on the law and proceedings regarding the prosecution and disposal of young (p.177) offenders (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1977), pp. 45–6.

(27) Evening Mail (20 May 1949), p. 5. Marlborough House was a short-term residential center for juvenile offenders administered by the Department of Education.

(28) Evening Mail (7 June 1949), p. 2.

(29) Irish Times (2 July 1968), p. 11.

(30) Waterford News and Star (5 July 1968), p. 5.

(31) Irish Times (11 July 1968), p. 11.

(32) Waterford News and Star (5 July 1968), pp. 5, 11.

(33) This conclusion is based on a survey of roughly 400 ISPCC case files for the period 1920s to 1960s.

(34) National schools are schools that are publicly funded but that were, until the 1960s, conducted almost entirely by male and female religious orders. Children attend national schools until roughly the age of fourteen years, at which point they sit their junior certificate. They then move on to secondary schools to prepare for the leaving certificate.

(35) NAI, Department of Education 27678, circular to managers and teachers of national school, 30 September 1930.

(36) In at least ten of the Department of Education complaint files parents specifically stated that they supported a teacher's right to use corporal punishment on their child, but objected to either the severity of the punishment or to the reason that it was inflicted.

(37) Irish Independent (20 March 1969), p. 3.

(38) Irish Independent (20 March 1969), p. 3.

(39) Patrick Boland, Tales from a city farmyard (Dublin: Patrick Boland, 1995), p. 63.

(40) Angeline Kearns Blain, Stealing sunlight: Growing up in Irishtown (Dublin: A. & A. Farmar, 2000), p. 38.

(41) Frank O’Connor, An only child (Belfast: Blackstaff, 1993), p. 139; Patrick Galvin, Song for a poor boy: A Cork childhood (Dublin: Raven Arts Press, 1990), p. 60. See also Christy Kenneally, Maura's boy: A Cork childhood (Cork: Mercier Press, 1996), p. 124; Sean Maher, The road to God knows where: A memoir of travelling boyhood (Dublin: Veritas, 1998), p 125; Peter Sheridan, 44: A Dublin memoir (London: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 58–9.

(42) NAI, Department of Education 11898, letter from Department of Education to [complainant], 22 February 1957.

(43) NAI, Department of Education 16921, letter from Department of Education to Revd J. Masterson, P.P., 3 December 1960.

(44) NAI, Department of Education 20412, case of charges by parents and inquiry, 10 July 1929.

(45) NAI, Department of Education 20412, case of charges by parents and inquiry, 10 July 1929.

(46) NAI, Department of Education 20412, case of charges by parents and inquiry, 10 July 1929.

(47) NAI, Department of Education 20412, letter from Department of Education to Revd Gilmartin, Archbishop of Tuam, 5 July 1932.

(48) NAI, Department of Education 20412, letter from Department of Education to principal teacher, 25 April 1936.

(49) NAI, Department of Education 28229, letter from divisional inspector Thomas O’Connell to Department of Education, 29 February 1932.

( (p.178) 50) NAI, Department of Education 28229, report on complaint by [mother] of the ill-treatment of her children, n.d.

(51) NAI, Department of Education 28229, letter from teacher to Department of Education, 19 May 1933.

(52) See NAI Department of Education 26305, 28565 and 28623.

(53) NAI, Department of Education 28623. The Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) was formed in 1868 and has become the primary trade union for national school teachers.

(54) Punishment in our schools (Dublin: School Children's Protection Organisation, 1955), p. 3.

(55) Punishment in our schools, p. 4.

(56) Punishment in our schools, p. 5.

(57) Dáil Éireann, vol. 152 (8 July 1955), col. 470.

(58) Dáil Éireann, vol. 152 (8 July 1955), col. 470.

(59) Evening Mail (1 October 1956), p. 5.

(60) Evening Mail (1 October 1956), p. 1.

(61) Evening Mail (11 October 1956), p. 5. The Irish Housewives Association was established in 1942 to enhance the role of Irish housewives in public and community life. For a history of the Irish Housewives Association see Hilda Tweedy, A link in the chain: The story of the Irish Housewives Association, 1942–1992 (Dublin: Attic Press, 1992).

(62) Dáil Éireann, vol. 162 (5 June 1957) col. 308.

(63) Dáil Éireann, vol. 188, (4 May 1961), col. 1776.

(64) Dáil Éireann, vol. 218 (28 October 1965), col. 761.

(65) Irish Times (13 July 1968), p. 6.

(66) Irish Union of School Students, Corporal punishment: The brutal facts (Dublin, 1974), p. 10.

(67) The groups surveyed by the Minister for Education included: Irish National Teachers’ Organisation; Association of Secondary Teachers; Teachers’ Union of Ireland; Association of Principals of Community and Comprehensive Schools; Catholic Primary Managers’ Association; Conference of Convent Primary Schools; and National School Boards of Management.

(68) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815.

(69) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815.

(70) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815.

(71) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815. The position of Minister of State is a junior, non-cabinet level position. The Minister of State in the Department of Education would have been “second in command” in the Department of Education, but he would not have had the same authority, or the same status, as the Minister for Education.

(72) INTO, Discipline in national schools (Dublin: INTO District XI, 1983), pp. 38–9.

(73) Report of the committee on discipline in schools (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1985).

(74) From the time that the States of fear documentaries aired in April 1999 newspapers throughout Ireland (both those that would be regarded as “mainstream” such as the Irish Times and the Irish Independent and the more sensationalist papers such as Ireland on Sunday) have regularly published stories about the allegations of abuse in industrial schools and magdalen asylums, and of paedophile priests. Many of these articles were uncritical in their acceptance of church responsibility (p.179) for the scandals, and ignore the role of Irish society as a whole.

(75) The conviction rate in cases involving children from 2–5 years of age was 70 per cent; from 6–8 years, 36 per cent; 9–10 years, 44 per cent; 11 years, 58 per cent; 12 years, 55 per cent; 13 years, 40 per cent; 14 years, 47 per cent; 15 years, 43 per cent.

(76) In this context “harm” probably meant either pregnancy or a ruptured hymen, depending on the age of the victim.

(77) NAI, Monaghan Circuit Court 1C 93 23, 24 April 1929.

(78) NAI, Monaghan Circuit Court 1C 93 23, 24 April 1929.

(79) NAI, Meath Circuit Court 1D 24 77, 21 March 1924.

(80) Names in court reports and descriptions have been replaced by initials to preserve the anonymity of victims in these cases.

(81) NAI, Donegal Circuit Court 1D 17 42, 30 June 1942.

(82) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 41, 13 October 1931; see also Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 43, 5 January 1932; Donegal Circuit Court 1D 6 31, 25 February 1930; Donegal Circuit Court 1D 32 107, 16 April 1947; Meath Circuit Court V14 23 38, 29 June 1948; Sligo Circuit Court 1D 14 4, 17 November 1932.

(83) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 41, 13 October 1931.

(84) NAI, Galway Circuit Court 1D 43 111, 28 October 1928.

(85) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 14 65, 17 June 1941.

(86) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 14 65, 17 June 1941.

(87) NAI, Limerick Circuit Court 1D 42 4, 20 October 1927.

(88) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 39, 11 October 1929.

(89) NAI, Cork Circuit Court, 1D 65 40, 3 June 1930.

(90) See NAI, Central Criminal Court V15 14 44, 25 October 1954; Central Criminal Court V15 1 1, 29 January 1952; Dublin Circuit Court 1D 24 144, 12 October 1944.

(91) NAI, Dublin Circuit Court 1D 28 68, 11 October 1946.

(92) NAI, Dublin Circuit Court 1D 28 68, 11 October 1946.

(93) Dublin Circuit Court 1D 27 12, 17 April 1945.

Notes:

(1) The term “abuse” did not come into common usage until the 1980s. Ill-treatment and cruelty were commonly used to describe treatment that today would be branded as abuse.

(2) This represents nearly 4 per cent of all cases. ISPCC annual reports, that summarize all cases heard by all branches in a given year, indicate that roughly 10 per cent of cases annually comprised some form of ill-treatment or assault. This discrepancy could be a function of the limited sample of the case files examined here, or it could be that ill-treatment as it was categorized in the ISPCC annual reports included cases of extreme neglect as well as assault. See ISPCC Annual Reports, 1930–1955.

(3) The Kerryman (14 July 1951), p. 4.

(4) United Kingdom Acts of Parliament, Children Act, 1908.

(5) Law Reform Commission, Report on non-fatal offenses against the person (Dublin: Law Reform Commission, 1994), p. 21.

(6) This conclusion is based on a survey of circuit court and some district court records, which revealed only thirteen prosecutions in the period 1922 to 1960. It is possible that such cases were prosecuted in district courts for which records have not survived. It is also based on a survey of ISPCC records; the ISPCC only rarely sought prosecutions in cases that constituted outright abuse or ill-treatment, but regularly sought the prosecution of parents who failed to provide financially for their children.

(7) The term “ill-treatment” seems to have been used by the ISPCC to describe extreme or severe neglect, and not just physical punishments or assaults.

(8) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 30 April 1938.

(9) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 21 June 1939.

(10) The Kerryman, First edition, (14 June 1947), p. 5.

(11) The Kerryman, First edition, (14 June 1947), p. 5.

(12) The Kerryman, First edition, (14 June 1947), p. 5.

(13) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(14) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(15) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(16) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 8 September 1953.

(17) It should be noted that the ISPCC definition of “warning” is somewhat sketchy. It did not, for example, imply that the ISPCC inspector believed that the parent had done anything wrong. The warning likely was more of a generic reminder to the parent of his/her responsibilities to his/her child.

(18) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 9 May 1939.

(19) ISPCC case files, Wexford, 9 May 1939.

(20) Connacht Tribune (25 January 1930), p. 5.

(21) Connacht Tribune (1 March 1930), p. 3. See also Offaly Chronicle (16 April 1942), p. 1; Offaly Chronicle (19 May 1954), p. 1; Evening Mail (2 May 1956), p. 5.

(22) Offaly Chronicle (18 March 1953), p. 1.

(23) Offaly Chronicle (18 March 1953), p. 1.

(24) Offaly Chronicle (2 December 1953), p. 4.

(25) Evening Mail (10 July 1957), p. 5. See also Evening Mail (31 December 1947), p. 6.

(26) A report on the law and proceedings regarding the prosecution and disposal of young (p.177) offenders (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1977), pp. 45–6.

(27) Evening Mail (20 May 1949), p. 5. Marlborough House was a short-term residential center for juvenile offenders administered by the Department of Education.

(28) Evening Mail (7 June 1949), p. 2.

(29) Irish Times (2 July 1968), p. 11.

(30) Waterford News and Star (5 July 1968), p. 5.

(31) Irish Times (11 July 1968), p. 11.

(32) Waterford News and Star (5 July 1968), pp. 5, 11.

(33) This conclusion is based on a survey of roughly 400 ISPCC case files for the period 1920s to 1960s.

(34) National schools are schools that are publicly funded but that were, until the 1960s, conducted almost entirely by male and female religious orders. Children attend national schools until roughly the age of fourteen years, at which point they sit their junior certificate. They then move on to secondary schools to prepare for the leaving certificate.

(35) NAI, Department of Education 27678, circular to managers and teachers of national school, 30 September 1930.

(36) In at least ten of the Department of Education complaint files parents specifically stated that they supported a teacher's right to use corporal punishment on their child, but objected to either the severity of the punishment or to the reason that it was inflicted.

(37) Irish Independent (20 March 1969), p. 3.

(38) Irish Independent (20 March 1969), p. 3.

(39) Patrick Boland, Tales from a city farmyard (Dublin: Patrick Boland, 1995), p. 63.

(40) Angeline Kearns Blain, Stealing sunlight: Growing up in Irishtown (Dublin: A. & A. Farmar, 2000), p. 38.

(41) Frank O’Connor, An only child (Belfast: Blackstaff, 1993), p. 139; Patrick Galvin, Song for a poor boy: A Cork childhood (Dublin: Raven Arts Press, 1990), p. 60. See also Christy Kenneally, Maura's boy: A Cork childhood (Cork: Mercier Press, 1996), p. 124; Sean Maher, The road to God knows where: A memoir of travelling boyhood (Dublin: Veritas, 1998), p 125; Peter Sheridan, 44: A Dublin memoir (London: Macmillan, 2000), pp. 58–9.

(42) NAI, Department of Education 11898, letter from Department of Education to [complainant], 22 February 1957.

(43) NAI, Department of Education 16921, letter from Department of Education to Revd J. Masterson, P.P., 3 December 1960.

(44) NAI, Department of Education 20412, case of charges by parents and inquiry, 10 July 1929.

(45) NAI, Department of Education 20412, case of charges by parents and inquiry, 10 July 1929.

(46) NAI, Department of Education 20412, case of charges by parents and inquiry, 10 July 1929.

(47) NAI, Department of Education 20412, letter from Department of Education to Revd Gilmartin, Archbishop of Tuam, 5 July 1932.

(48) NAI, Department of Education 20412, letter from Department of Education to principal teacher, 25 April 1936.

(49) NAI, Department of Education 28229, letter from divisional inspector Thomas O’Connell to Department of Education, 29 February 1932.

( (p.178) 50) NAI, Department of Education 28229, report on complaint by [mother] of the ill-treatment of her children, n.d.

(51) NAI, Department of Education 28229, letter from teacher to Department of Education, 19 May 1933.

(52) See NAI Department of Education 26305, 28565 and 28623.

(53) NAI, Department of Education 28623. The Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) was formed in 1868 and has become the primary trade union for national school teachers.

(54) Punishment in our schools (Dublin: School Children's Protection Organisation, 1955), p. 3.

(55) Punishment in our schools, p. 4.

(56) Punishment in our schools, p. 5.

(57) Dáil Éireann, vol. 152 (8 July 1955), col. 470.

(58) Dáil Éireann, vol. 152 (8 July 1955), col. 470.

(59) Evening Mail (1 October 1956), p. 5.

(60) Evening Mail (1 October 1956), p. 1.

(61) Evening Mail (11 October 1956), p. 5. The Irish Housewives Association was established in 1942 to enhance the role of Irish housewives in public and community life. For a history of the Irish Housewives Association see Hilda Tweedy, A link in the chain: The story of the Irish Housewives Association, 1942–1992 (Dublin: Attic Press, 1992).

(62) Dáil Éireann, vol. 162 (5 June 1957) col. 308.

(63) Dáil Éireann, vol. 188, (4 May 1961), col. 1776.

(64) Dáil Éireann, vol. 218 (28 October 1965), col. 761.

(65) Irish Times (13 July 1968), p. 6.

(66) Irish Union of School Students, Corporal punishment: The brutal facts (Dublin, 1974), p. 10.

(67) The groups surveyed by the Minister for Education included: Irish National Teachers’ Organisation; Association of Secondary Teachers; Teachers’ Union of Ireland; Association of Principals of Community and Comprehensive Schools; Catholic Primary Managers’ Association; Conference of Convent Primary Schools; and National School Boards of Management.

(68) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815.

(69) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815.

(70) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815.

(71) Dáil Éireann, vol. 310 (6 December 1978), col. 815. The position of Minister of State is a junior, non-cabinet level position. The Minister of State in the Department of Education would have been “second in command” in the Department of Education, but he would not have had the same authority, or the same status, as the Minister for Education.

(72) INTO, Discipline in national schools (Dublin: INTO District XI, 1983), pp. 38–9.

(73) Report of the committee on discipline in schools (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1985).

(74) From the time that the States of fear documentaries aired in April 1999 newspapers throughout Ireland (both those that would be regarded as “mainstream” such as the Irish Times and the Irish Independent and the more sensationalist papers such as Ireland on Sunday) have regularly published stories about the allegations of abuse in industrial schools and magdalen asylums, and of paedophile priests. Many of these articles were uncritical in their acceptance of church responsibility (p.179) for the scandals, and ignore the role of Irish society as a whole.

(75) The conviction rate in cases involving children from 2–5 years of age was 70 per cent; from 6–8 years, 36 per cent; 9–10 years, 44 per cent; 11 years, 58 per cent; 12 years, 55 per cent; 13 years, 40 per cent; 14 years, 47 per cent; 15 years, 43 per cent.

(76) In this context “harm” probably meant either pregnancy or a ruptured hymen, depending on the age of the victim.

(77) NAI, Monaghan Circuit Court 1C 93 23, 24 April 1929.

(78) NAI, Monaghan Circuit Court 1C 93 23, 24 April 1929.

(79) NAI, Meath Circuit Court 1D 24 77, 21 March 1924.

(80) Names in court reports and descriptions have been replaced by initials to preserve the anonymity of victims in these cases.

(81) NAI, Donegal Circuit Court 1D 17 42, 30 June 1942.

(82) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 41, 13 October 1931; see also Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 43, 5 January 1932; Donegal Circuit Court 1D 6 31, 25 February 1930; Donegal Circuit Court 1D 32 107, 16 April 1947; Meath Circuit Court V14 23 38, 29 June 1948; Sligo Circuit Court 1D 14 4, 17 November 1932.

(83) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 41, 13 October 1931.

(84) NAI, Galway Circuit Court 1D 43 111, 28 October 1928.

(85) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 14 65, 17 June 1941.

(86) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 14 65, 17 June 1941.

(87) NAI, Limerick Circuit Court 1D 42 4, 20 October 1927.

(88) NAI, Cork Circuit Court 1D 65 39, 11 October 1929.

(89) NAI, Cork Circuit Court, 1D 65 40, 3 June 1930.

(90) See NAI, Central Criminal Court V15 14 44, 25 October 1954; Central Criminal Court V15 1 1, 29 January 1952; Dublin Circuit Court 1D 24 144, 12 October 1944.

(91) NAI, Dublin Circuit Court 1D 28 68, 11 October 1946.

(92) NAI, Dublin Circuit Court 1D 28 68, 11 October 1946.

(93) Dublin Circuit Court 1D 27 12, 17 April 1945.