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12 BROTHERS PROBED AT HELL SCHOOL; Files on Letterfrack scandal sent to DPP.

Byline: JOHN FALLON

AT LEAST 12 people are facing charges after a Garda probe into alleged child abuse at a Christian Brothers school, it was revealed yesterday.

Files have been sent to the DPP after an extensive investigation into the assault claims at Letterfrack Industrial School in Galway.

The complaints relate to alleged incidents of physical and sexual abuse in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.

The Letterfrack Industrial School was run by the Christian Brothers and closed in 1974.

Superintendent Tony O'Dowd, from Clifden Garda station, confirmed more than a dozen files have now been sent to the DPP.

The cases relate to allegations against 12 or more individuals. The DPP will now decide what charges, if any, should be brought.

More than 100 complaints were received by the detectives and the investigating team travelled all over Ireland.

A number of people from the west Connemara area were brought in for questioning. Gardai also carried out a detailed examination of the building in Letterfrack.

The investigation has been one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the west of Ireland.

Seven Garda officers were assigned to the case and a special incident centre was established in Clifden in November 1999.

The Letterfrack Industrial School served as a reforming centre for boys in the past.

Boys who had been convicted of various misdemeanours were sent to Letterfrack.

But others were there because they could not be cared for at home.

The school catered for boys between the ages of six and 16 and was set up in 1887 by the then Archbishop of Tuam.

The Archdiocese entrusted the running of the reformatory to the Christian Brothers and it became a well-known establishment all over the country.

However, it was closed in 1974 following the publication of the Kennedy Report on such institutions.

A small cemetery, which is now in the grounds of the National Park nearby, serves as a reminder of times past in Letterfrack.

The cemetery contains the graves of scores of boys who died while in the school.

HISTORY OF ABUSE CASES

THE Christian Brothers have been at the centre of a number of scandals involving child abuse.

The most infamous case was that of Artane Industrial School.

In July 1999 more than 300 former pupils made allegations of abuse.

The Order apologised in 1998 apology for any "ill-treatment" suffered by pupils at their 60 schools in Ireland.

However, they refused to offer compensation to abuse victims.

CAPTION(S):

NOTORIOUS: Artane
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 30, 2001
Words:414
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