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THE HELL OF A BOY'S LIFE AT ARTANE: Decades of abuse at school
Sunday Mirror, Sep 23, 2001 by Caoimhe Young

ARTANE Industrial School was set up in north Dublin in 1871 to take in orphaned or abandoned boys or those who were involved in petty crime.

Even such a minor offence as skipping school was enough for a boy to be sent to Artane.

More than 15,000 youngsters passed through the gates of the Christian Brothers run school between 1871 and 1969.

The school housed around 700 boys at any one time. They stayed there until they were 16 and only they and their abusers knew of the sexual assaults and beatings they were forced to endure.

No one knew of their pain. No one knew of their suffering. No one knew of the torment.

But in the 1990s, victims of the abuse started to speak out about their years of torture.

The worst period of abuse was in the 1950s and 1960s were victims said they were systematically abused both sexually and physically.

As a result, the Gardai launched an investigation into the activities of Christian Brothers at the industrial school.

A flood of victims came forward to give statements and named over 20 Brothers they claimed were involved the abuse. Their stories of inst-itutionalised violence stunned the nation.

Even more shocking were claims from former pupils that 241 boys had died in Artane in its 89 year history.

Their names were put on a memorial next to those dead Christian Brother teachers from the school - but unlike the Brothers the dates for when the boys died were never given.

It was also claimed that pupils found bones while playing in the grounds.

Eyewitnesses later told how Christian Brothers gathered up the bones, smashed them into pieces and took them to another part of the grounds to be burned.

So horrific were the stories of abuse, that in May, 1999, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made a historic public apology to the victims.

Last year Education Minister Michael Woods has also vowed to lift the lid on the full horror of Ireland's child abuse scandal.

He set up the Truth Commission under the chairmanship of High Court Judge Mary Laffoy, giving him a remit to examine accusations of sexual, emotional and physical abuse at State-run institutions.

The inquiry, which is still sitting in Dublin, is divided into two parts - a confidential committee which hears victims' stories and an investigative committee to hear claims of abuse.

The inquiry has powers to hear sworn evidence, compel witnesses to testify and punish anyone who refuses to co-operate.