Goldenbridge: Ryan Report

Chapter 7
St Vincent’s Industrial School, Goldenbridge (‘Goldenbridge’), 1880–1983


7.01 Goldenbridge was the subject of television and radio programmes and of a great deal of media coverage generally. Experiences of ex-residents of Goldenbridge featured in a number of publications, and some ex-residents were prominent in the campaign for redress. The programme ‘Dear Daughter’ was a dramatised documentary that featured this Institution, and Goldenbridge was also referred to in the television series ‘States of Fear’. The screening of the third and last programme of that series provoked a huge public reaction and was followed by the Taoiseach’s apology. Measures were announced that included the establishment of this Commission.

7.02 Public meetings that were intended to generate support for the campaign for recognition and redress provided occasions for former residents to come together and share experiences. The Sisters of Mercy expressed concern at the possibility that people were being influenced by what was said at these meetings.

The hearings

7.03 The Investigation Committee held both public and private hearings in respect of Goldenbridge. Sr Helena O’Donoghue, Provincial Leader of the South Central Province, gave evidence to the Committee in a public session on 15th March 2005. Her evidence was based on a detailed Opening Statement submitted in advance of the hearing.

7.04 Evidence was heard from witnesses in private hearings from 18th March until 28th April 2005. A total of 40 complainants gave evidence at this time. A further four former residents gave evidence, at the request of the Sisters of Mercy, to provide positive accounts of their experiences of growing up in Goldenbridge. All complainants who wished to give evidence did so; in addition, four respondents and two expert witnesses gave evidence.

7.05 The Committee had heard evidence from three complainants and two respondents in March 2002.

7.06 In the third stage of the inquiry into Goldenbridge (Phase III), a public hearing was convened on 15th May 2006 at the Herbert Park Hotel, Ballsbridge, and Sr Helena O’Donoghue once again gave evidence on behalf of the Congregation. This session focused on issues that arose as a result of the private hearings and the documentary material produced to the Committee.

7.07 Documentation was furnished as part of the discovery process from a number of sources, namely the Sisters of Mercy, the Department of Education and Science, An Garda Síochána, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Archbishop of Dublin, and the medical records of some complainants.

7.08 The Sisters of Mercy furnished Submissions on 20th June 2005. These Submissions were made in the aftermath of the evidence heard at oral hearings and the documentary evidence which emerged during the course of the inquiry.

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