By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — An appeal to men who had been abused as boys by the Christian Brothers in Dublin’s Artane Industrial School to come forward has been made by the detective leading a major investigation involving up to 20 members of the order.
So far about 40 men in Ireland, England, Scotland and America have claimed they were sexually or physically abused at the school.
A special team of 10 detectives is now working on the case, which Det. Sgt. Paul Scott said had the potential of becoming Ireland’s biggest abuse scandal so far.
The probe began over three months ago when a social worker dealing with one of the victims reported his claims to the Gardai.
One 67-year-old Christian Brother has been questioned. He was released without charge but a file is being sent to the director of public prosecutions.
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When detectives took a statement from the first man to corroborate his evidence, the case mushroomed as other men also made statements about alleged abuse.
Some of the men who have made statements were members of the school’s famous Artane Boys Band, which played at high-profile GAA sporting occasions in Croke Park.
Scott said the claims were "even balanced" between physical and sexual abuse and had the potential to become the biggest in the country because of the thousands of young boys who passed through Artane.
It is understood that some of the allegations involve systematic buggery of boys over a period of years.
"There are a lot of men out there who are well aware of what happened but for one reason or another have buried it in their life and don’t want to talk about it," Scott said. "There will be a huge number who won’t come forward no matter what you do.
"I would appeal to anybody who has any information to contact us and help our inquiry. A lot of people are residing in England and Scotland we have also had a complaint from America.
"It would greatly assist us in our investigations if these people were to get in touch. We will meet them at any time and in any place of their choosing."
A special telephone hotline 01-8531000 is open to the investigation headquarters at Clontarf Garda station in Dublin between 9 a.m. and midnight.
He said most of the allegations involved the period between 1952 and when the school closed on 1968, but some incidents occurred before then.
"It would be very difficult to deal with some of the older cases because, with that length of time, people will be deceased," Scott said.
The boys were aged between 10 and 16 when they claim they were abused and most of them are now aged from 45 to 60. Many of the boys would have come from poor families or broken homes and others would have been orphans or referred to the care of the order by the courts.
Some of the complaints involve boys who were abused in both Artane and another school in Letterfrack, Co. Galway, and also Christian Brothers who worked in both schools.
The Brothers issued an unprecedented public apology to abuse victims last March and promised they would cooperate fully with any investigation.
They also set up a special "Faoiseamh" (Relief) helpline for traumatized victims. It has handled more than 3,000 calls from all over the world this year and face-to-face counseling has been provided for over 500 of the callers.