September 15th 2016
Press Statement from Dublin Independent councillor Mannix Flynn
Mannix Flynn, an Independent councillor in Dublin City Council has today hit back at Dublin’s Lord Mayor over claims that his calls for the disbandment of the Artane School of Music are “upsetting the vast majority of Dubliners”.
In an article in one of today’s newspapers, Brendan Carr, the Labour Lord Mayor, was quoted as lambasting Flynn over his motion: “[Flynn is] raising the issue over the way kids were treated years ago, but the impact he’s having on the kids in that band at the moment is something that any city councillor should be ashamed of”.
In a statement issued today, Flynn has called on Cllr Carr to withdraw his remarks and separate his opinions from that of the Lord Mayor’s office, a title which should remain impartial and unbiased.
“If Cllr Carr would take a moment to discuss the matter with me he would understand that the Artane School of Music, in its current form, has evolved out of misery and brutality forced upon innocent children who attended St Joseph’s Industrial School in Artane.
“It is not accurate for Cllr Carr to insinuate that I am out to cause hurt to any of the children involved in the current band. The debate is much deeper than that.
“While the Lord Mayor has every right to call on crowds to cheer on the band at Sunday’s All-Ireland final, he is quite wrong in congratulating the band’s 130-years of ‘proud association with the GAA and Croke Park’. Those who attended St Joseph’s School and who were in the band attest to the monstrosities they and other boys endured during their time there. The band was more often than not an escape from the degradation and neglect other boys suffered as they undertook menial chores on a day-to-day basis. Being in the band meant you could at least wash occasionally and couldn’t be beaten on the face, but it did not exempt you from the sordid sexual abuse that was rife in the school.
1969 – Artane Boys Band travel to America to raise funds. They are in blazers and not the usual uniform as the band room had been burned down. Former band member Patrick Walsh (Irish SOCA) is in the front row aged 15 years. The notorious Brother Joseph O Connor (Joe Boy) took this photo, Shannon Airport.
“I have come under criticism for raising this issue but if you were a child who endured any amount of time in an industrial school, you would be reminded of the horrors that took place every time the Artane band took to the pitch on match days.
“And I’m not alone. This week, members of Irish SOCA (Survivors of Child Abuse) came out in support of my cause. Like me, these were men forced into industrial schools and some of those were even in the band in Artane and experienced first-hand the exploitation and manipulation of children by the religious.
“Will the Lord Mayor acknowledge that his apathy and indifference to their suffering is causing much hurt?”
New Motion lodged on Monday 12th September to Dublin City Council:
That this monthly meeting of Dublin City Council, mindful of the shameful legacy of institutional abuse in industrial schools documented in the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse, call on the Artane School of Music to disband as a matter of human rights.
The School of Music is an establishment jointly run by the Christian Brothers and the GAA, yet encompasses the original and traditional insignia and uniforms that hark back to an age of chronic sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the religious.
The Artane Boys Band was used as a front to hide the gross inhumanity that took place at St Joseph’s School in Artane and other industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers at home and abroad. The harrowing memories of these institutions for abuse victims are regularly flaunted without care or recognition at national sporting events in Croke Park in the form of the present Artane band.
A disbandment of the trust would sever all ties with the former industrial school and its brutal history and in doing so, would acknowledge the ongoing collective suffering of so many.