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Victim Upset by Lack of Action

Irish Times 23 August, 1999 by Padraig O'Morain

"Prevention is better than cure, and nobody seems to be interested in any lessons to be learned."

The victim, an articulate, middle-class man, says he is "amazed and upset" that there has been no inquiry into how a teacher, subsequently convicted, was allowed to teach at a school for three years after he had made a written allegation against him to the Christian Brothers.

"There has been no investigation, inquiry or fact-finding mission that I am aware of. It is hard to believe that this is all happening in the late 1990s, post Father Brendan Smyth and Father Ivan Payne."

He is very angry with the Provincialiate of the Christian Brothers for not doing more to ensure the man, an ex-Brother, was no longer a danger to children. He believes the order was wrong to leave it to the school to take action once it had passed on his allegation without disclosing his name, which, from the school's viewpoint, gave it the status of an anonymous complaint (the order says he asked for his name to be kept confidential; he strongly denies this.)

He quotes the following from the Guidelines on Child Protection published by the Christian Brothers with the words "for private circulation" on the cover in 1993:

"Any person who knows or suspects that a child is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed has a duty to convey his/her concern to the proper authorities."

Elsewhere, it refers to "the moral and sometimes legal obligation to inform immediately the appropriate congregational, institutional and State authorities in cases of allegations of child abuse", describing this as "an important principle in the policy of the Christian Brothers".

"Precautions may also have to be taken to protect potential future victims," it says.

Brother Mullan, the current Provincial - he was not provincial when the allegation was first made - says the order fulfilled its obligations by informing the school that an allegation had been made.

The victim says he sees the order's own guidelines as promoting a far more proactive approach than was taken in his case. He urges other victims to take their allegations directly to the Gardai.