AN unpublished report has criticised the role of a government department in the case of a former Christian Brother — since convicted three times for sex offences against children — who continued to work at a centre for young offenders.
Edward Bryan, 67, was jailed for a third time last month after pleading guilty to the indecent assault of a teenage boy while he was a teacher at the North Monastery in Cork City almost four decades ago.
It was his third conviction relating to his time as a teacher in the secondary school.
However, between 1994 and 2010, he worked at what became Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre in Dublin — a forerunner to the present day Oberstown facility.
Initially a teacher, Bryan was promoted to deputy director and also served as chaplain at the facility, despite twice being suspended over concerns about his behaviour.
However, an unpublished report, commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) and sparked by his initial 2013 conviction for offences while teaching in Cork, shows there were concerns while he was working in Finglas.
It emerged that Bryan had been suspended twice in the early to mid-2000s, but on both occasions took legal actions against his employers to force his return to work — firstly against the board of the centre, and secondly against the HSE after it had assumed authority over the facility.
A summary of the independent review, written for the department and the IYJS by child welfare consultant Kieran McGrath, suggested the process became a legal quagmire which proved “costly” for the State and with Bryan ultimately resuming the role of child protection officer at the centre.
That summary said: “This person held a management position within the organisation and during a period of c 15 years ‘concerns’ had been raised at various times.“
The catalogue of concerns culminated in the staff member being placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
The investigative process extended over a protracted period of time which resulted in the High Court ordering that the suspension be lifted.
Some six years later the employer was informed of allegation [sic] relating to a period prior to taking up his present employment.
“The amount of time and energy devoted to the micro-management of this case by the Department [of Education] was unnecessary and unhelpful.“
By involving legal advice from the AG’s office the process was slowed down which created delay and confusion. This was compounded by the numerous number of staff changes during the period.
“Where there is no clear-cut allegation, just a series of concerns, then the concept of grooming behaviour must be considered.”
The report summary outlined how the concerns could have been better dealt with, and said staff found it difficult to stand over their concerns due to Professional Accommodation Syndrome.
“The review found that no one person had a firm grip of the matter and this led to the confusion and delays,” it said.
“The plethora of delays is a striking feature throughout the case.”
When contacted, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said it was not in a position to provide a response at that time, but would address the issue today.
:: This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.