The Closure of the Dealer

The Dealer has finally closed. 

We need to be reminded of its legacy. For many it was a happy place, and in recent years the happy stories have been told on Facebook and elsewhere.

For others it was a place of horror. Personally, I never experienced the violence or abuse heaped on others. But, like many others, I witnessed enough to instill fear. My main memory is of fear, and relief I avoided what others endured. 

I am aware specifically of one allegation of sexual abuse made against a named brother. I am aware of it because in 1996 I went to the Dealer to raise it hoping they would engage with the victim and help to bring closure. It was an innocent, naïve mission, undertaken prior to society becoming fully informed of systematic cover-ups of child sexual abuse by religious bodies. 

The school was initially unwilling to test the veracity of the claims, stating it had no previous knowledge of such allegations and that it was determined to protect the reputation of a deceased colleague, especially for the sake of his family. I believe there were other victims. 

I don’t believe that social media should be used for naming names, but I do believe there is a need to raise the issue, to bring pressure and to create a mechanism whereby people can come forward to tell their stories in confidence, and where, at even this late stage, they can safely seek resolution and closure for what they experienced.

In 2017, in its review of the La Sallians, who ran the Dealer, the Catholic Church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children was highly critical of the Order’s response to the requirement it produce and operate an effective child protection policy. The Order failed to meet any of the Board’s standards for managing abuse allegations. Both historical and contemporary records are of concern. 

The Review reports on page 17-18 that separate to cases considered by the Residential Institutions Redress Board, the records show that in the Republic of Ireland:

  • Allegations of sexual abuse have been made by named complainants against forty-four named Brothers, and that
  • Eighty-two named complainants have made allegations of sexual abuse against named Brothers.

 Now that the Dealer has closed, those who went there should be entitled to know how many of the forty-four Brothers, referred to in this Review, taught in Ballyfermot at any stage, the years in which they taught, the class level at which they taught, and whether settlements, financial or otherwise, were made in relation to any allegations made.  

Furthermore, the La Sallians should be required to set aside a substantial financial sum to support an independent, outreach investigation that would, in a proactive manner, seek submissions and testimonies from former pupils to help build a comprehensive picture of the nature and scale of these legacy issues.  

Ultimately, getting this issue raised depends on people out there who went to the Dealer, who know the stories, who know what their friends and relatives went through, who witnessed and observed what happened in the dark places on corridors and under stairs and at the back of classrooms. They have the stories. They know what they saw. They need to start telling them, not in the form of naming people because they were ‘this, that and the other’, but in the form of testimony, in the form of accounts with reference to specific classrooms and specific years if possible. What is needed is a full dossier of what went on there.

Gentl© Barry Cullen 2018