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Added to on May 8, 2008

The three-part States of Fear documentary produced by Mary Raftery was broadcast by RTE from late April to early May 1999. At that stage the Christian Brothers and the Church were not confining themselves to groveling apologies and they outlined serious "errors" (to put it mildly) in the programmes.
Of course it is impossible for any organisation to "prove" that they did NOT abuse children decades ago (maybe we should ask the Jews to prove that they did NOT engage in the ritual murder of Christian boys?). However there were certain allegations - regarding finances for example - where it was possible to ascertain who was telling the truth and it certainly was not RTE.

In 'States of Fear' Mary Raftery claimed that the Brothers were diverting state funding for industrial schools to other purposes. The Brothers pointed out that the State grant per child was only a fraction of that in the UK at the same time. In response RTE claimed that the Brothers refused to give the State enough data to justify more funds. Let's suppose this was true; it does not explain how the Brothers could divert their (admittedly) grossly inadequate funds to other uses.

Again RTE claim that, in view of the sensitivity of the topic, preview copies of the programmes were not sent to the press; thus none were sent to the religious orders. In reply Father John Dardis said that Kathy Sheridan of the Irish Times had confirmed to him that she received preview tapes of some of the programmes.

I have said it before but it is worth repeating; in any situation where the Catholic Church is in conflict with Mary Raftery AND there is independent evidence, you will find that the Church is telling the truth.

Rory Connor
29 February 2008

(A) Schools' Funds Inadequate, Christian Brothers Claim
Irish Times, 28 April 1999

The Irish Christian Brothers claimed last night that State funding of the order's industrial schools was never adequate to cover the costs involved.

Responding to allegations made in the RTE programme States of Fear, the order said to imply that boys were deprived of food while money was diverted elsewhere was grossly unfair and untrue.

"We strenuously affirm that State funds received by the congregation for the upkeep of industrial schools was used for its intended purpose. It is totally untrue to suggest that any taxpayers' money was in some way diverted for other uses," the order said in a statement.

During the  programme a former inmate of a school said the children were sometimes so hungry they ate grass.

According to the order, it received 10/- (50p) per boy per week in 1939; 30/(£1.50) per boy per week in 1950 and 55/(£2.75) per week per boy in 1964. It points out that in the UK in 1950 boys in similar institutions were allocated £5-4-9 (£5.23p) and in Northern Ireland the allocation was £4.

In 1955 the order had sought extra funding and gave detailed figures to the Department of Education which showed the cost of keeping a boy in an institution was £2-15-5 (£2.77) per week at a time when the State subvention was £1-10-0 (£1.50).

The order stated the money given by the State had to cover all costs including medical, food, clothing, building and household maintenance and that in 1950 the majority of schools were running at a deficit. Boys in the care of the order were given regular and appropriate medical attention.

The statement said the Brothers took a considered decision not to appear on the programme as it was not given the appropriate assurances by the producer, Mary Rafferty, that would lead it to believe the programme would be fair and balanced.

It also felt it would not be given adequate time to make its case - it was told an interview with a brother would be edited down to about four to five minutes.

While reiterating its sincere apologies for hurt or trauma suffered by anyone entrusted to its care, the order pointed out that 20,000 boys went through institutions run by the Brothers but only 145 complaints of mistreatment had been made. "One complaint, of course, is one too many," it concluded.

The Faoiseamh Help-line for those seeking help will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday at 1800 331234, or 0800 973272 from Northern Ireland and the UK.

(B) Priest Criticises `States of Fear' For Giving Only One Side of Story
by Patsy McGarry,  Irish Times,  2 July 1999

The communications director of the Catholic Church's Dublin Archdiocese, Father John Dardis, has criticised the States of Fear television series for lack of balance. "I believe States of Fear missed an opportunity to give historical context and a balanced overview and thereby failed to develop our understanding of what was happening in childcare in Ireland in the last 50 years," he said.

Writing in the current issue of Link-Up, the Archdiocese's magazine, he continued that "for example, during the making of the series, the Christian Brothers offered to put the programme-makers in touch with a range of people who had more positive experiences of being at industrial schools. RTE said they would talk to the men but that it was extremely unlikely they would be interviewed for broadcast."

Father Dardis said "the Christian Brothers were asked to provide an official spokesman for interview for the programmes. On further inquiry, it transpired they were being offered a 20-minute interview of which 4-5 minutes would be used over the course of three programmes. The Christian Brothers felt this was a recipe for being quoted out of context and they therefore declined to take part. The programme, it seemed, was really only interested in one side of the story and so the full story remains to be told."

He criticised the advance marketing of the programme, which he felt "prevented a balanced discussion from taking place". Journalists were allowed a preview of the first programme a few days before it was aired, he said.

"This is standard practice and it is obviously a good way to promote your programme if you are a producer" and it meant the series got almost unprecedented pre-publicity, he said. However, "it also meant that opinion about the programmes and the issues portrayed in them had become framed in a particular direction by the time the first programme was aired."

In that context, there was little church spokespeople could do afterwards "to get across their perspective," he said.

He also pointed out that "despite the fact that such serious allegations were being made against the religious orders and congregations, their representatives were refused a similar preview of the programme."

Father Dardis warned of the danger in the current climate of anger and resentment that the church would exclude itself or be excluded from the debate about an emerging Ireland. "There are things in the Ireland of the past for which the church feels shame," he said. The challenge was to be faithful to that reality while also believing the church could contribute positively to the emerging Ireland. It was an "in-between time", "in between a painful accountability for the past and an equally painful birth into the future".

Attempts to contact Ms Mary Raftery, producer of the States of Fear series, about Father Dardis's criticisms were unsuccessful last night.

(C) Balance In "States Of Fear"
Letter to Irish Times from RTE, 8 July 1999

Fr John Dardis is quoted as criticising the RTE documentary series "States of Fear" (The Irish Times, July 2nd). He makes a number of statements of purported fact, none of which he attempted to check in advance with RTE or the makers of "States of Fear". The factual position is as follows.

RTE engaged in a lengthy consultative process with the Christian Brothers during the making of "States of Fear" and made every attempt to encourage the Order to present its point of view as part of the programme. Contrary to Fr Dardis's claim, no time constraints were placed by RTE on either the recorded duration of the proposed interview with the Christian Brothers for "States of Fear", or on the final edited duration. RTE regrets the decision of the Christian Brothers to decline to be interviewed not just by "States of Fear", but also by a number of RTE radio programmes in the days following the broadcast of the documentary.

In October 1998, the Christian Brothers very kindly offered to put the makers of "States of Fear" in touch with some men who had had positive experience of growing up in industrial schools. Despite enthusiastic acceptance of this offer, no names or contacts of this kind were ever provided to the programme makers by the Christian Brothers.

Fr Dardis expressed some criticism of the advance marketing of the series "States of Fear". However, contrary once again to his claim, preview copies of the documentaries were not in fact sent to the press. This was a deliberate departure from the normal practice for a documentary series of this magnitude, where it is usual to provide preview copies to a wide range of journalists. However, given the sensitivity of these programmes, it was felt that the standard publicity procedure was not appropriate in this case, and so preview copies were not sent to the press. RTE instead issued a press release, outlining the contents of the programmes

Yours, etc.,

Kevin Healy,
Director of Public Affairs,
Radio Telefis Eireann, Dublin 4.

(D) Balance In `States Of Fear'
Letter to Irish Times from Christian Brothers , 13 July 1999

  We have no wish to engage in acrimonious debate, but there are a few points which must be made in reply to Kevin Healy (July 8th). Contrary to what he says, the Christian Brothers and our representatives did in fact discuss the duration of the proposed interview and the final edited duration with the makers of States of Fear on two occasions.

The RTE producer informed the Christian Brothers that while she would be interested in meeting people who had positive experiences of Artane, they would not be interviewed for the programmes. This was the reason that the names were not furnished to the programme. It was also one of a number of reasons why, ultimately, the Christian Brothers decided not to participate in the series.

The version of events commented upon on by Fr John Dardis in his Link-Up article, as reported in The Irish Times of July 2nd, is correct.

Yours, etc.,

D. Gleeson, Province Leadership Team,
Christian Brothers, (St Mary's Province),
North Circular Road, Dublin 7.

(E) Balance In `States Of Fear'
Letter to Irish Times from Father John Dardis, 13 July 1999

Mr Kevin Healy of RTE responds (July 8th) to the report on my article in the Dublin Archdiocesan magazine Link Up concerning the RTE television series States of Fear.

Mr Healy claims that, given the sensitivity of these programmes, preview copies were not sent out to the press. In fact, Ms Kathy Sheridan of The Irish Times has confirmed to me that she received preview tapes of some of the programmes.

  Meanwhile, as stated in my article, the request from the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) for a preview of the programmes on behalf of religious orders and congregations was refused. A short news release was received at the communications office of the Dublin Archdiocese.

The Christian Brothers have confirmed to me that the account as published by me in Link Up is correct. Contrary to Mr Healy's claim, time constraints were placed both on the length of a proposed initial interview with a spokesman for the Christian Brothers and on the length of the final edited version. The Christian Brothers offered to put the programme-makers in touch with people who had more positive experiences of being at Artane. The programme-makers did indeed offer to meet these people but said that the men would not be interviewed for the programmes. The suggestion was made instead that if the Christian Brothers representative were to be interviewed, he could speak for these men and represent their views.

The above comments on the media aspects of the programme series must in no way take from the importance of listening and responding to those who have suffered abuse or from the painful process of soul-searching in which the Church and the State must engage. The primary focus of the section in Link Up pertaining to States of Fear, in which my article appeared, was on the needs of those who have suffered abuse and on outreach to them. Our main concern is that they are encouraged to make contact with the agencies most appropriate to their situation so that they can receive whatever help they may need.

Yours, etc.,

Fr John Dardis SJ,
Communications Director,
Archdiocese of Dublin,
Drumcondra, Dublin 9.

(F) Priest Defends Children's Institutions, Criticises Lack of Funding
by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times, 16 August 1999

In a second article defending Catholic institutions against allegations in the RTE States of Fear series, Father John Dardis has criticised the State for lack of funding. It contributed to the harsh conditions endured by children in such institutions, he writes.

In Link-Up, a magazine published in the Dublin archdiocese where he is communications director, Father Dardis says the first programme in the series claimed Catholic institutions received sufficient money from the State and that it was stated in the programme that "some at least may not have spent the money provided by the State on the children in their care".

It also said the explanation that the Catholic Church had to go to its already impoverished community to fund its initiatives in social outreach had to be re-examined, he recalls.

In making such claims the programme made no reference to the findings of the Kennedy report (1970) on the funding of the schools, Father Dardis writes. The report said ". . . the managers in charge of the schools were faced with the task of running the institutions on a totally inadequate financial provision and were forced to supplement their incomes by whatever means possible to enable their work to continue".

It was not clear how Judge Kennedy arrived at this conclusion, Father Dardis notes, and writes that it would be helpful if relevant notes and minutes were made available. However, the report's analysis was accepted by the Government, he writes. In 1969, just before the report's publication, "the Government doubled the capitation grant available for each resident at the schools . . ."

This State and local authority unwillingness to provide for vulnerable children was not a new phenomenon, he says. In 1936 the Cussen report criticised local authorities for their unwillingness to provide financial support for children on the margins.

It concluded: "Most of the local authorities were unwilling to contribute even towards the maintenance of the children and as the Treasury grant was insufficient for the building and equipment of such schools their establishment was a matter of some difficulty. As a result, various religious orders were requested to undertake the work . . ."

Father Dardis writes that States of Fear mentioned some schools had received as much as £1 million in today's money. That was for Artane, a school with 800 pupils, he says, where, as in other industrial schools, the orders and congregations had to pay for the children for 52 weeks a year with no capitation grant for those over six and under 16 and no extra funding for secondary schooling or for the provision of tuition in other subjects.

"In addition the orders and congregations had to provide most if not all the capital and building costs," he writes. In Britain meanwhile the state funded all building costs. It also paid a higher capitation grant.

Christian Brothers figures for 1950 showed that whereas they received 30 shilling a week per child at the time, in Britain the figure was £5 4s 9d per child, while in the North it was £4.

The claim by States of Fear that funding received by the schools was adequate, and its suggestion that funds provided by the State may not have been used for the benefit of the children, seemed "at least questionable", Father Dardis writes.

"But we can and we must examine in a serious manner how and why children at industrial schools endured such a harsh regime and why they endured such trauma and suffering. It is up to both church and State to examine these questions," he says.

He also says he believed there was "an urgent need to examine existing institutions in our society in order to ensure that there are not similar abuses happening in our prisons, with the homeless, the handicapped, the disabled, the elderly, with refugees and with other vulnerable groups".

(G) RTE Stands by Child Institution Expose Series
by Patsy McGarry, Irish Times, 20 August  1999

RTE has again stood over its States of Fear series following further criticisms from Father John Dardis, communications director at the Dublin Archdiocese. In the current issue of Link-Up magazine, Father Dardis took issue with assertions in the series that Catholic institutions received sufficient funding from the State to run industrial schools and that some at least of the money may not have been spent on the children in their care.

RTE has said, in a statement, that States of Fear "did indeed report that the religious orders and congregations were unhappy with the level of State funding and that in the early 1950s the government was prepared to consider increasing financial support".

It continued that, "as was pointed out in the programme, the religious orders refused to co-operate with a proposed (government) inquiry to establish how they were spending the money they were already receiving".

It pointed out that "Brother Hurley, the then secretary of the Industrial and Reformatory School Managers Association, stated the following on behalf of the association: `The inquiry would be the thin end of the wedge in an attempt by the State to impose its control on the detailed management of the schools.' "Most of the schools continued in their refusal to provide adequate accounts; and while the government did in fact increase its funding of the schools at this time, it is clear from State archives that even more money would have been provided in return for the co-operation of religious orders.

"It is reasonable to believe that the archives of the religious orders hold much that is relevant to a responsible and necessary examination of conditions in the institutions. When States of Fear requested access to those archives, it was refused. Examination of those archives would be a first essential step in answering the call made by both the series and by Father Dardis in his article."

The latter reference was to Father Dardis's comment that "we must examine how and why children at industrial schools endured such a harsh regime and why they endured such trauma and suffering".

RTE also contended that the reason the Christian Brothers would not co-operate with States of Fear had less to do with the producer's inability to guarantee them programme time in advance than that they had become generally "very, very unhappy with RTE".

This unhappiness was believed to be centred primarily on how the brothers perceived RTE television news dealt with coverage when a brother at Artane was brought in for questioning by the gardai. Until it was broadcast relations between the broadcasters and the Christian Brothers were understood to be very positive, sources at RTE have said.

It is understood the producer of the series, Ms Mary Raftery, is preparing a book on the history of industrial schools in Ireland since they were established in 1868. Titled States of Fear, it will also look at what has taken place since the series was broadcast. The book is expected to be in the shops for Christmas.

The RTE statement was issued following a query from the Irish Catholic.

CONCLUSION: There can be little doubt but that the Church and the Brothers got the better of the above argument. Nevertheless the weeks following the broadcast of 'States of Fear' saw a nation-wide torrent of abuse directed at the religious orders by the media. It appears that the religious came to believe that their own attempts to defend themselves were making things worse; accordingly they would remain silent in the face of provocation. This error of judgment then developed into cowardice and decadence. It led the Sisters of Mercy to throw Nora Wall to the wolves in July 1999 - at the same time as  she was being defended by the anti-clerical journalist Kevin Myers!