Administrative Expedience and the Avoidance of Scandal: Ireland’s Industrial and Reformatory Schools and the Inter-Departmental Committee of 1962-3

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Abstract

This article utilises the surviving working papers of the Irish, Inter-Departmental Committee on the Prevention of Crime and Treatment of Offenders of 1962-3 (IDC) to critically evaluate its work on the industrial and reformatory schools. The industrial and reformatory schools were populated by vulnerable children, from largely poor backgrounds, who were not well regarded by Irish society. The work of the IDC in regard to adult prisoners is argued by academics and politicians to have been a turning point in Irish penal policy; representing the point at which a more enlightened approach to the treatment of offenders began to feed through into the penal system. This positive assessment of the IDC’s impact on adult penal policy is demonstrated to stand in stark contrast to its actions in regard to the children detained in the industrial and reformatory schools. Children, against whose interests, the IDC and its political masters chose to place economic expediency and the perceived interests of departmental and religio-political sensibilities. The actions of the IDC left these children exposed to the worst excesses of abusive institutions despite clear evidence of their plight. It was not until the years after the publication of the Kennedy Report in 1970 that the Irish State took it first hesitant steps in reforming the rotten and abusive system.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-108
JournalEstudios Irlandeses
Issue number10
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2015

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