Mixed Race Irish group seek redress amid claims of racist abuse in industrial schools

Mixed-race Irish who spent time in industrial schools will today claim they faced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse there because of the colour of their skin.

The Mixed-Race Irish group has 71 members, many of whom now live outside Ireland. Representatives of the group will appear before the Oireachtas Justice Committee today as part of a campaign aimed at official recognition of their experiences and access to redress.

Founder members Evon Brennan, Rosemary C Adaser, and Carole Brennan are set to address the committee and are expected to outline how there has been a failure to acknowledge the historical and ongoing suffering of mixed-race Irish children placed in State institutions throughout Ireland between the 1940s and the 1980s.

They claim mixed-race children who spent time in the industrial school system have had their lives blighted as a result, from poor adoption and educational opportunities, reduced job opportunities due to institutional racism, and memories of neglect and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse because of their skin colour.

The group say records relating to their care are not readily available as the Irish Census did not begin to record ethnicity until 1996.

In all, the group believes as many as 150 mixed-race children were placed in State industrial schools between 1940 and 1980, including in St Patrick’s in Kilkenny, on the Navan Road in Dublin, and in Letterfrack in Galway.

The group claims that, in the industrial schools, mixed-race children were subjected to abuse and neglect, as well as racist abuse, including what they say were racist sexual inspections and being treated less well than white children.

Outlining the experiences of 56 of its members, the group will say half spent their entire childhood in institutions, just 12% were adopted, while 44% were sexually abused. The group has said it is aware of six people who committed suicides among the mixed-race Irish who were in the industrial schools.

The group is seeking access to redress funding so it can support members who may come forward, access to a specialist tracing service, and recognition of their experiences in the industrial schools system.

It is also seeking access to personal records, including fostering and adoption records, and a gravestone for one woman, Pauline Griffith, whose body was found in the River Liffey and who was buried in an unmarked grave.


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