State ‘must protect industrial school’s files’

The Government has been asked to ensure documents, described as highly sensitive and relating to the treatment of boys at Glin Industrial School in Co Limerick, are not handed back to the Christian Brothers Order who claim ownership of the material.

The documents are currently in the possession of the University of Limerick. Deputy Niall Collins is to raise the matter in the Dáil next week as the European Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers threatens legal action.

But Mr Collins said he had alerted Minister for Education Richard Bruton. “I want the State to intervene and secure these very important documents which, in my view, are the property of the boys held there, or their representatives, in the first instance and the State. My concern is, if the Christian Brothers Order got possession of this material it would be destroyed, because of the information contained about what went on in Glin Industrial School.”

The Christian Brothers have sent solicitors’ letters to a former resident in Glin, Tom Wall, who saved over 400 documents which he had been asked to burn. Now aged 67, Mr Wall was put into Glin Industrial School in 1952 when aged three.

He salvaged hundreds of pages of files on boys while he was working at the school doing general maintenance.

“I went through some of the material to see if I could find anything on myself,” he said. “Material I saved shows the cruel regime and they (Christian Brothers) want to cover this up. I found notes about me on one document.

“It said that on a date in 1961 ‘I absconded’ with another boy. All we did was go down a field to pick blackberries we were so hungry and we got leathered for it. My only concern is to preserve this material which I was asked to burn and have it at UL where people can access it and see what happened in Glin Industrial School.”

He kept the documents for over 40 years and handed them over to UL in 2015.

Solicitors for the order have told Mr Wall if the material is not returned by him they will look to “remedies available to them in law”.

Mr Collins said the threat was “high-handed bullying” and “nothing short of contemptible”.


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