Deputy Catherine Connolly welcomes confirmation that the former industrial school known as Lenaboy in Taylors Hill is to be handed over to the City Council in trust for the people of Galway. She said the most important first step in this process however must be the beginning of a meaningful consultation with the survivors of the institution as to how the building will be used.
She said the announcement by the City Manager at last Monday night’s City Council meeting that the former Industrial School is to be handed over to the City Council has to be welcomed and is a very positive development.
It is very important however said Deputy Connolly that the announcement be placed in its historical context. This is a decision that has come following a very long and difficult campaign by the survivors who have repeatedly called on the Sisters of Mercy to hand over the property and to let it be used as a place of ‘healing and reconciliation’.
Moreover in response to these requests, Deputy Connolly said that as a City Councillor, she tabled a motion as far back as 2009, a motion that was passed unanimously by the City Council on the 28th September 2009 calling on the Sisters of Mercy to donate the lands and premises at Lenaboy to the City Council.
At the same time and under mounting pressure as a result of the contents of the Ryan Report which had been published in May 2009, it appears that the Sisters of Mercy unknown to the City Councillors had already chosen Lenaboy as one of the properties to be given over to the state as part compensation for the abuse suffered by resident children while in Lenaboy.
However notwithstanding the commitment entered into by the Sisters of Mercy to hand over the property to the state in 2009, it was never in fact handed over and the building was allowed to remain derelict for over ten years which has led to serious deterioration in the condition of the building.
Moreover, Deputy Connolly said this is a matter she has repeatedly raised on the Public Accounts Committee in an effort to clarify the situation since she became a member.
Given this background, Deputy Connolly said she is very disappointed that both the verbal and written statements from the City Manager utterly fail to recognise and acknowledge the sensitive history of the building and the importance of consultation with the survivors and their families and indeed their long and difficult campaign for the building to be handed over by the Sisters of Mercy.
In addition, the Manager’s statement confirming that preliminary discussions had taken place with a number of organisations (including Barboró, Branar, Teatar do Pháistí and Galway Community Circus) but with absolutely no reference to any consultation with the most important group of people, that is the survivors and families of survivors of the former Industrial School is of great concern to her she said and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Moreover the reference to the Sisters of Mercy donating the property to the Council is also misleading. This property was identified as far back as 2009 as one of the properties to be handed over in part-compensation for the abuse suffered by so many children.
Deputy Connolly said she has contacted the City Manager with a view to including the survivors and/or representatives of their families in the consultation process regarding any proposed uses of this building.