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Added to on March 30, 2007

On 22 March I sent you my essay entitled "Cynthia Owen and Mannix Flynn". This includes Brighid McLaughlin's article about Mannix Flynn in the Sunday Independent on 22 December 2002 AND the strong response by the Christian Brothers to his allegations. In justice I should have included Mannix Flynn's further reply to the Christian Brothers. However I don't think it adds a great deal to the debate. In particular it certainly does NOT justify the claim by Ms. McLaughlin and Mannix that there was a "Holocaust" at Letterfrack with boys buried all over the grounds.

Mannix Flynn states that "one body has been exhumed in relation to Letterfrack". This refers to the exhumation of the body of William Delaney in April 2001. (He died in 1970). The post mortem revealed that the boy had died of natural causes which was hardly a surprise because that is what the doctors said in 1970. It is extraordinary that Mannix Flynn can bring this up again in February 2003 and fail to mention the result of the exhumation. Does he WANT the Christian Brothers to have murdered boys in order to justify his own prejudices? (If so he wouldn't be the only one!)

Rory Connor
29 March 2007

Christian Brothers' 'Sorry' is Not Enough, Sunday Independent, 2 February 2003

In his letter of January 12, Brother Edmund Garvey, Director of Communications for the Christian Brothers, accused me of telling untruths, in other words "lies", in an interview with Brighid McLoughlin. In reply, let me make the following points.

It is true that I was sent to Letterfrack, aged 11, under an unsigned warrant. I have a copy of the warrant in my possession supplied by the Department of Justice and Education and, as far as I know, it is illegal to detain anybody anywhere under an unsigned warrant.

Furthermore, by putting into the public domain the information that my sentence was extended, Brother Garvey is in clear breach of my confidentiality. He is also wrong. Following the withdrawal of my appeal, the original sentence stood, there was no extension. I also find it shocking that Brother Garvey has any documentation at all in relation to me, since I have been informed in writing on three occasions by the Christian Brothers Provincialate that they have no such records in their possession.

I never said that boys died in Letterfrack while I was there. However, I am by no means the only person to suggest that a number of children died in suspicious/unexplained circumstances at the hands of the Christian Brothers. In fact, a group called Joseph Pyke Memorial Trust has been set up specifically to uncover the number of children who died in Ireland's 76 industrial schools, the circumstances of their deaths, and where they are buried. (See also Mary Raftery's States of Fear). Add to this the fact that one body has been exhumed in relation to Letterfrack and a Garda spokesman said they were investigating reports by relatives of boys said to be buried in wooded areas around Letterfrack.

Brother Garvey prays that "God will make the truth cry out" I believe God already has, and is continuing to do so. The deafening silence is the silence of denial that is emanating from the Christian Brothers. Have they no shame? Have they no respect for the survivors? The Christian Brothers have never "apologised" for abuse in their institutions. To say "sorry" for the hurt caused is a neutral expression of regret, not an admission of responsibility.

How can Brother Garvey be so sure of what happened in the Industrial Schools. Was he there to witness it as I was? When truth is weighed against untruth, it will show the Christian Brothers and other Catholic orders perpetrated crimes against humanity's most vulnerable members children, not just in Ireland but everywhere they went.

Gerard Mannix Flynn, Co Kerry.

APPENDIX: extract from RTE News, Thursday, Thursday, 26 April 2001

"Post Mortem Reveals Letterfrack Student Died of Natural Causes"

"A post mortem examination, conducted on the body of a boy as part of an investigation into alleged abuse at Letterfrack Reformatory, has revealed that he died of natural causes. William Delaney, who was 13 years old, died a few days after returning home to Kilkenny in July, 1970, amid allegations that he had been injured in a classroom incident. His body was exhumed on 18 April in order to establish the cause of his death. The post mortem conducted by the Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy, established that he had an abscess-type infection, but there were no fracture marks or trauma on his body."