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300 ARTANE BOYS ABUSED; Over eighty Christian Brothers face charges.

MORE than 300 Christian Brothers boys have claimed they were abused at Artane Industrial School.

Former pupils have contacted a special incident room at Clontarf Garda station in Dublin with allegations against the order who ruled Artane, above, with an iron fist.

Now an eight-month probe has turned into the biggest child abuse investigation in the history of the state.

The 300-plus complaints were made against 80 present and former Brothers, many of whom will face court.

More than half of the alleged victims now live in the UK, but some have come from as far away as the US, Canada and Australia to tell of ritual abuse at Artane.

So far one file has been sent to the DPP but several others are nearing completion.

A nine-man team of detectives was

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established last year to investigate Artane, the flagship of more than 60 Christian Brothers industrial schools in Ireland.

The squad said they have been overwhelmed by the number of abuse victims who have come forward.

Their investigation was sparked by last year's historic apology by the order to those children who suffered sexual and physical abuse while in its 'care'.

The apology stated: "We, the Christian Brothers, wish to express our deep regret to anyone who suffered ill-treatment while in our care.

"And we say to you who have experienced physical or sexual abuse by a Christian Brother, and to you who complained of abuse and were not listened to, we are deeply sorry."

Thousands of former Brothers boys jammed special helplines after the apology. Counsellors then en- couraged them to contact the Gardai.

More than 50 former Artane pupils came forward to make allegations, leading to the investigation.

But the the number of complaints has grown in the past eight months as more alleged victims have come forward.

They are claiming they were repeatedly abused in the school and while in the Artane Boys Band during a period from 1955 to 1969.

All were aged between 10 and 16. Many were orphans, but some were sent to Artane as punishment for minor offences such as skipping school and petty theft.

The order's other industrial schools, including Tralee in Co Kerry and Letterfrack in Co Galway, are also being investigated.

The government has set up a Truth Commission which will give former pupils a chance to tell their stories for the first time.

Since its foundation in 1876 an estimate 500,000 boys have been educated by the Christian Brothers.

Today 60,000 schoolboys attend the order's 130 schools nationwide.

The image of the saviours of Irish education began to fade in recent years as stories of horrific physical and sexual abuse began to emerge.

Among them was a harrowing anonymous letter from a former pupil of Artane which lifted the lid on the nightmare regime pupils endured there.

The man wrote: "I cried myself to sleep for my stolen childhood. I lay awake listening to the sound of a leather strap swish on naked flesh.

"Bed wetters were flogged naked and the beatings were inexcusable for trivialities like whispering or being caught out of bed swapping comics."

The order is now in crisis with just 500 members still actively involved. Last year it ordained just one new Brother.
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Author:Leslie, Neil
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 15, 1999
Words:548
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