Dáil Éireann - Volume 102 - 23 July, 1946

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Criticism of Prisons.

Mr. Seán Brady asked the Minister for Justice whether his attention has been drawn to criticisms of the prison and Borstal systems in this country reported to have been made by Monsignor Flanagan during his recent visit and published in the Irish newspapers, and to similar criticisms made on his return to the United States which were published in the New York Press on the 17th July, 1946; and whether he has any statement to make.

Mr. Boland: My attention has been drawn to the criticisms referred to. During his recent stay in this country Monsignor Flanagan did not see and did not ask to see any of the prisons or the Borstal institutions. I am surprised that in these circumstances an ecclesiastic of his standing should have [1135] thought it proper to describe in such offensive and intemperate language conditions about which he has no firsthand knowledge.

Mr. Flanagan: Is the Minister aware of the fact that Monsignor Flanagan did not make these statements without very good foundation and very good reason for them?

Mr. S. Brady: Will the Minister say if his attention has been drawn to a statement made by Monsignor Flanagan and published in the American Press, that physical punishment, including the cat o' nine tails, the rod, and the fist, is used in reform schools both here and in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Boland: I have a cutting from a paper which contains a statement to that effect. I was not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country, because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them. When, however, on his return to America he continues to make use of statements of this kind, I feel it is time that somebody should reply——

Mr. Dillon: On a point of order——

Mr. Boland: I am answering the statement which has been made.

Mr. Dillon: On a point of order, is it in order for a Minister of our Government to reply in Parliament to a statement attributed to a citizen of the United States in an American paper without taking the prudent precaution of confirming that the newspaper has correctly reported the citizen?

An Ceann Comhairle: That is not a point of order.

Mr. Boland: All I have got to say is that these schools are under the management of religious Orders, who are self-effacing people, and who do not require any commendation from me. I have no doubt from the type of statements made by the Monsignor when he was in this country that the report [1136] which I have seen represents what he did say when he landed on the other side.

Mr. Flanagan: It represents Portlaoighise, anyway.