Child Abuse in State Home 'As Bad As Church-Run Centres'

By David Quinn
Irish Independent
August 31, 2004

Writing in the current edition of the Jesuit magazine 'Studies', Anthony Keating, a research fellow, details the appalling conditions found at Marlboro House, Dublin, as well as instances of terrible physical abuse and at least two examples of sexual abuse.

Mr Keating argues that the case of Marlboro House shows that the State, as well as the Church, operated a "culture of defensiveness and secrecy" that "laid the foundations for sexual abuse to thrive in some of these institutions".

In 1971, Marlboro House was in such poor condition that its 30 inmates, mostly boys on remand, rioted in protest. The following year it closed.

The institution was run directly by the Department of Education but was registered by the Minister for Justice as a place of detention.

In 1951, an attendant employed at Marlboro House was sentenced to 12 months for sexually abusing two boys. The prosecution came about as a result of a complaint made by the boys to Judge HA McCarthy.

Judge McCarthy wrote to the Department of Justice voicing his concerns about conditions at the institution and called for "an immediate inquiry" into it.

The Kennedy Committee was established by the Government in 1968 to investigate conditions in residential institutions.

Mr Keating writes: "During the late 1960s, a string of complaints about physical abuse of children by staff in Marlboro House came to light and provided powerful evidence to the Kennedy Committee of the harsh regime in the building."

A probation officer described one incident to the committee. "I was witness to a brutal beating of one of the inmates . . . by an attendant.

This beating consisted of numerous punches with his clenched fist, which reduced the boy to a whimpering mass," he said. Following the 1971 riot at Marlboro House, trained prison officers were sent in.


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