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Evidence Against

The published evidence against those responsible for the abuses committed on children in the Irish Industrial and Reformatory Schools system. Some of religious orders involved have issued some kind of apology to survivors.

Baltimore Industrial School

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Investigation Committee - REPORT INTO BALTIMORE INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL

"
I have no time really to wait for three or four [or] five years for a finding . . . I only hope that somebody has the courage to take on board these things."
These words come from the transcript of a hearing of the Child Abuse Committee at which a former pupil of the Baltimore Fisheries School (Baltimore Industrial School) recounted on oath his experiences of life in that institution in the 1940s. At the time of hearing, the witness was seventy-one years of age and he had experienced medical problems.


Life in Baltimore School as recounted by the witnesses was so harsh and deprived by the standards of today as to verge on the unbelievable, were it not for the fact that a contemporaneous record is available to give credence to the testimony.


The evidence of the witnesses in relation to life as they experienced it in Baltimore School, although occasionally more graphic, is closely mirrored in the inspection reports which have survived.


Appalling accommodation they were living in: the large dirty dormitories; the poor quality beds with flea infested and urine saturated mattresses and bedding.


Even by the standards of the time, the lack of hygiene and the unhygienic practices described by the witnesses seem remarkable. On bathing day the bath water was changed after five or six boys had bathed. There were no toothbrushes or toothpaste, combs, soaps or personal towels. The clothing and the bedding was verminous. There were outbreaks of scabies.


On the inadequacy of the food. The witnesses recalled that the pupils were not merely hungry, they were literally starving. They were compelled to supplement their diet by eating raw vegetables and vegetation, potatoes, turnips, mangolds, carrots and sorrel, by eating barnacles at the seashore and by scavenging, begging and stealing in the village of Baltimore.


Many of the witnesses commented on their lack of physical stature, which they believed was attributable to the inadequate diet they received in their formative years in Baltimore. Over half a century later, the Committee noted that the lack of physical stature was still observable.


The physical hardship and deprivation described by the witnesses was observed and reported on in the course of the general and medical inspections carried out by the departmental medical inspector.


The method of enforcing discipline employed in Baltimore School, both in the classroom and in the school generally, was the infliction of physical punishment.


Its frequency and its severity was suggestive of a regime in which infliction of severe physical punishment in the classroom was systemic.


A significant feature of the evidence was the fear which the enforcement of discipline engendered in the pupils. Witnesses testified that in later life, they had nightmares about being beaten.


From their hesitancy to recount their experiences and from their reticence about articulating the details, it was patently obvious that they were not accustomed to discussing such matters, although some had attended a counsellor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist.


Witnesses demonstrated a convincing and clear recollection of the core events. The evidence was characterised by idiosyncratic, unsolicited detail.


There was credible evidence from a significant number of witnesses that they were subjected to gross sexual abuse, including anal and oral intercourse, by him. There was also credible evidence of attempted sexual abuse and sexual advances which were successfully rebuffed. There was consistency between the accounts of the witnesses, each of whom gave his evidence to the Committee in private.

The Committee's findings are based only on evidence which would be admissible in a court and the standard applied is proof on the balance of probabilities.

The Committee is satisfied that the witnesses were honest and truthful. While not corroborative of each other in the strict sense, the evidence of the witnesses is characterised by similarity of fact and consistency. The Committee is also satisfied that, far from having any ulterior or secondary motivation for giving evidence to the Committee, the motivation of the witnesses was wholly altruistic: it was to ensure the children of today and tomorrow do not experience what they experienced in childhood.
posted by The Knitter, 12:19 AM

3 Comments:

My fathers twin brothers were in this vile place, one drowned there. But no problem, only a poor boy that no one cared about. My father and his younger brother survived St Patricks Upton. Island of saints and scholars, eh?
commented by Anonymous Marion Coffey, 1:42 PM  
My father was incarcarated in that hell hole for 8 years never spoke of it we only found out in his 60's. He has carried burdens all his life and still does into his 80,s. I have seen where he scraped barnacles off the sea wall to keep himself alive. He watched fisher men throw away the overspill while he starved. He was also in killibegs and artain which he recjkons were not as bad. Not enough done for survivers or their families. We all suffered.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 3:15 AM  
I have read these words , we must never never forget the suffering of those gone before us and indeed now , thank you for this reminder I will always be grateful for my ancestors up in Sligo. Liz Narey
commented by Blogger liz narey, 12:20 AM  

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