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The Brothers grim

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---It is not the memories of the kickings and lashings with a leather strap that make Tom Hayes pause and choke and break down. Nor is it the incessant bullying, the slave labour or the sexual abuse he suffered after dark in the dormitory. The memory that turns the 63-year-old former soldier's voice small with terror is one vivid image from his eight years in Glin industrial school, Limerick. "The first time I saw someone brought back to the school having absconded was one of the most frightening things I've ever witnessed," he says. "His head was shaved as punishment and then he took a really serious beating by two Christian Brothers. I've never forgotten it."

The trauma for Hayes and others has been stirred up again this week by the fourth major report in the past decade investigating the abuse of children by Ireland's Catholic clergy and teachers. A day before the government report made new revelations of the collusion of the Irish police and archbishops in covering up decades of sexual and physical torture, the Christian Brothers, the Catholic lay order at the heart of some of the most disturbing abuses, offered reparations of £145m in cash and land, to be handed over to independent trusts.

The revelations have all but destroyed a dying institution, in Ireland at least, where there are barely 250 Brothers left with an average age of 74. Last year they ceded control of 96 schools to a charitable trust, marking the end of two centuries of the Brothers educating boys in Ireland. The order may be diminished but its legacy still looms large over thousands of lives – and the development of Ireland. As Jim Beresford, who was confined to Dublin's notorious Artane school as a boy, puts it: "Ireland made the Christian Brothers and then they made Ireland."
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