By Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

Monday January 11 2010

THE one million records of the Ryan Commission into child abuse have been saved — despite fears that they would be immediately destroyed.

The Government had sought advice from the Attorney General about reports that the commission was “leaning towards” the destruction of all documents used in preparing its report on child abuse in religious-run institutions.

But the commission has now given the Government assurances that no action will be taken on these documents for some time.

Its secretary Brenda McVeigh said work was currently ongoing to catalogue the one million paper records accumulated by its investigative committee over a nine-year period, which include witness statements by abuse victims.

“There was never a question of destroying the investigation committee documents,” she said.

The documents are now being preserved until the Ryan Commission meets (most likely later this year) to decide what to do with them.

Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe said: “The Government supports the desirability of preserving, in so far as possible, these records for posterity.”


A computer database has been set up to assist in the process, and this is proving useful for commission staff who are checking claims from lawyers of abuse victims and abusers for legal costs.

There are also audio tapes of the testimony given by abuse victims to the commission’s confidential committee.

These tapes cannot be publicly released to protect the victims but the commission, which is headed by Judge Sean Ryan, will have to decide if they should be preserved for historians.

Ms McVeigh said it was likely there would be a “different decision” made in relation to the tapes of testimony to the confidential committee.

“The submissions to the confidential committee got an extra layer of confidentiality,” she said.

By law, the final decision on whether to preserve or destroy any of the written records or audio tapes lies with the Ryan Commission.

Due to the sensitivity of the records and the tapes, all of the staff handling them have had to sign a confidentiality agreement.

And the security measures include coded door locks, fireproof storage cabinets and computer servers with access passwords.

Irish Independent


10 Responses to “Testimony of abuse victims ‘will not be destroyed’”

  1. To Whom It May Concern.

    As I am a survivor from Glin Industrial School, Co. Limerick and gave my evidence, duly recorded at the redress board. I personally request that my evidence be retained for all time. I think that all those concerned ( still alive) be contacted and asked if they wish to have their evidence be saved or destroyed. ie. 120.000 yea 200 nay or vice versa.

    Seanie Morrison. PI, ACFE, CII.

  2. Charles O'Rourke says:

    Even the archives of the KGB and STASI in the DDR were intact at their collapse. It would be just like Ireland to leave as few traces as possible to one of the greatest crimes in our history.

  3. barry clifford phone: 0877511113 says:

    I forgot to mention that only cheques or money orders can be made out to the the bank along with the account number. This acts as a receipt in itself and all donor names with their permission will be posted on our website. Other than that If we win our fight I suggest a coming home party for all concerned with any money left over or have it donated to a democratic choice within the group. ‘If we fail’ does not enter my thoughts but for others, of course they can have any money left over divided equally among them.

  4. barry clifford says:

    I spent ten years in the industrial prison system with my brother Michael. That journey started at the age of five years old. Two of those years were in Summer hill Industrial institution in Athlone, and the rest in Salthill Galway. My brother spent the last six months of his sentence in Ballinasloe mental hospital because the Christian brothers/ wardens were afraid of him. There he was offered a job as a male nurse and how mad was that?
    Coming to this battle at all has been encouraged by the lack of answers to not only questions like yours alone but along with a thousand more as to how did we allow this to fester as long as it did or at all. I am simply part of a group who may want me to represent them. If this is their wishes I will be requesting that Paddy Doyle and Hanora Brennan join me with a few select others to do just that.
    Requesting, and more importantly getting money, is the oil that will grease the wheels to bring our case all the way to the Supreme Court if need be. It will not be prudent for the Irish Government or indeed us to walk up to the steps of that courthouse with nothing more than rubber swords in our hands. The broad outline of our case is outlined in the last five articles that I have posted on Paddy’s site, and it is not my work alone. I am simply building on the shoulders of giants. In order to galvanize and network others in our call to arms we are going to need a web site as well with hopefully the name and logo of FIRE AND ICE for I am tired of being labelled a victim as are many others. Along with all of that there will be the inevitable POW’s with the government, office work, and the usual outlays of any war room. I wanted this started yesterday such is my hurry for I believe the hour is right for our enemies have already got a ten year start. That may prove to be their ultimate mistake and if so I want them to pay for it.
    Today I got the application from the bank to set up a business account and it does and should require two signatures to take money out. I hope to go further than that. I believe after an expense is incurred the bearer of that receipt should present that receipt to a wider body in our group for approval just in case they used a limousine instead of public transport to get to that all important meeting. Then and only then can two signatures be used to refund money for that receipt along with one other from the wider group. To get the ball rolling I am putting my signature down on the account for the bank is just walking distance from me, and I am nominating Paddy Doyle or Hanora Brennan to be the other one. This of course is not set in stone, it is just to encourage our movement forward that little bit quicker for our enemies may be moving faster than we are.
    I will be applying to register the company name tomorrow as FIRE AND ICE and hopefully that will be a success. More work is required by all for giving money, save for the lack of it, is the easy part. The cold winter has helped me devote more time to this battle than would otherwise have afforded itself but there is a thaw I am told on the way. The only thaw I am worried about is the will and determination to move forward, for just as a week is a long time in politics, so is a day lost in our battle for justice.
    It is questions like yours Kathleen that should have been asked by many almost a decade ago. Had they been asked and answered then we surely would not be in this position today. Even if I seem to be doing wrong for all the right reasons, it will only be because of the clear glass of transparency that others along with me can make me see that better way. For me transparency is the foundation that reveals the truth and nature of all things.
    Barry Clifford email:

    Ps: Your book is very good and I noticed a common denominator with your story as with all people that came through the Industrial prisons, the challenge from that childhood interrupted was and still is to believe in oneself. I believe you have done yourself proud.
    Barry Clifford email:

  5. Kathleen O'Malley. "Childhood Interrupted". says:

    Brave words. May I be so bold as to ask who you are and what connection do you have with Survivors perhaps you are one. What concerns me is your requesting money at this stage.
    What guatantee are you giving should monies be donated, into what fund do they go and should the plan fail, will those who donated have their money returned. What and where will the account be held and in whose name. Two signatures should be required to remove funds and who are these two people. Much more work is required before anyone should delve into their pockets.

  6. Portia says:

    “These tapes cannot be publicly released to protect the victims but the commission, which is headed by Judge Sean Ryan, will have to decide if they should be preserved for historians.”

    I see the way they us- protect the victims.??

    More like protect their own backsides.

    It has the same energy as- “Best interests of the child” which was used to get children into “their special care”

    All name can be annonomised like they do elsewhere.

    “Excuses are tools of the incompetent,
    and those who specialize in them seldom go far.

    Excuses are tools of the incompetent used to build monuments to nothing.

    For those who specialize in them shall never be good at anything else.

  7. Portia says:

    The Vatican have always destroyed the documented his story of the facts for thousands of years.

    Remember all records of Tara and religion of Love- all burned on order from the pope.

    All records of Cathars burned by rder of the pope

    Of course they plan to do the same this time too.

    Now, The Data Commissioner’s Office, I have found to be open and honest and got files for me, which I was told I could never see.

  8. mmaguire says:


    I am surprised by even the suggestion that documentation would be destroyed. I am also at a loss as to why the Ryan Commission would assume that “audio tapes” are not documentaries per se. These documents all have a significance for not only historians but also for social reformers, decision makers and legislators.

    The Irish government, who set up the Ryan Commission should, as a matter of urgency, provide the necessary amendments to ensure that all this documentation is retained for posterity. This documentation has the same significance for Ireland as does the documentation collected and used by the relevant authorities and later the various Jewish organisations who have recorded the events against their race during WW2.

    I would also assume that the Irish government could also, if they saw fit, place a retention notice on these – with these documents being held “in camera” until a specific date passes.

    Though I would not agree with this, I believe that processes could be devised to protect personal privacy while allowing the de facto documented evidence to be made public.

    After all, Irish governments have had a deal of experience in this type of matter as can be seen that various distasteful civil war documents are still retained but denied to the public until 2022 and later, being currently retained in the bowels of Merrion St. They too have practised their will in denying the truth to all, for the benefit of a few.


  9. Emer says:

    Maybe one of our NEW MANDATED LEADERS can attend this meeting

    Seminar on Privacy

    A seminar on Privacy, the Internet and the Press is being organised by the Press Council of Ireland.

    Date: Friday 15th January 2010
    Venue: Jury’s Hotel, Western Road, Cork
    Time: 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm

    Speakers will include Mr Ben Dunne, Mr Billy Hawkes (Data Protection Commissioner) and Mr John Kierans (Editor, Irish Daily Mirror).

    Full details from: or (01) 6489130


  10. barry clifford phone: 0877511113 says:


    On November 1939 Russia attacked Finland on one of the coldest winters on records, some 50 degrees below zero.
    Four soviet armies, 21 divisions, thousands of tanks and planes, and half a million soldiers attacked on the first day alone. It was three times larger than the allied forces that landed in Normandy on D DAY. They then threw another million soldiers against Finland along with thousands of more aircraft and hundreds more of tanks.
    The Finns on the other hand had over two hundred thousand men and lost half of those with just a few rifles in their hand and a few Molotov cocktails in their arsenal. They fought with incredible bravery, skill, with respect for the living and the dead, including the dead of the enemy. After all it was the Finns that buried them. The battle lasted just 105 days.
    At its end a million Russian soldiers lay dead from bullets, bombs, frostbite, starvation, brainwashing and stupidity. The still living ones had abandoned the living and the dead and resorted to cannibalism and the meat of horses on their way out the exit door. The finnish however were still standing.
    They would have fought longer and harder except for the fact that their closest geographical neighbours, along with other promised allies had abandoned them in other to save their own skins. Their skins because of that action were not saved.
    In the final peace treaty Finland did concede some territory in order for Russia to protect its borders from their admitted fear of the Germans, At least this is what the Russians claimed. The Finnish people kept their Country and independence to this day.
    The reality of this war is one where David did slay Goliath but has deeper meanings. The Finns respect for life, liberty, love, sacrifice, and freedom helped win that battle. They had come together not only as a nation but as a close family in great peril and lived not only to fight another day but also to tell their story. For me herein lies a lesson and an inspiration.
    I hope to call our new army of soldiers and counsel group, FIRE AND ICE for our fight will be defined by the same spirit and courage. It is also worth noting that our cause is been born on one of Ireland coldest winters on record and I am mindful of its similarities and hope you are too.
    Make no mistake this will be a hard battle. The greed and duplicity for our enemies in their haste to cover their tracks keep giving us ‘our means to an end’ to fight back. If you are a good person you do not even need to have a good memory for truth is the best recall of all.
    Our enemies, because of their lies and deceit need more then a memory, they need integrity. Because of the lack of both of these qualities they will find in the end they have few friends for they are all trying to protect their own skins. Getting elected to public office does not guarantee them the former qualities nor does it guarantee them a brain when it comes to the latter ones.
    Here is to FIRE AND ICE if so say all of us.!!

    Barry Clifford email:

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