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BBC NI's Shane Harrison:
"William may have been the victim of Christian Brother violence"
 real 56k

Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Exhumed boy had skull damage
Willam Delaney
William Delaney was sent to Letterfrack in 1967
An initial examination on a 13-year-old Irish boy, whose body was exhumed as part of an investigation into alleged child abuse, has reportedly shown signs of skull damage.

Thomas Delaney died suddenly in 1970 after returning home from Letterfrack reformatory school in County Galway.

The institution was run by the Catholic religious order the Christian Brothers and is now at the centre of allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

William's body was removed from its grave in County Kilkenny on Wednesday for tests and then reinterred.

Kathleen Harty
Willliam's sister Kathleen Harty
Thursday's Irish Times newspaper reported that an initial examination indicated damage to the boy's skull but it will not be possible to say whether this was caused by a physical injury or a medical condition until final post mortem results are released later in April.

Irish police meanwhile have refused to comment on the matter and have denied reports that they have launched a murder inquiry into the death of William.

His sister Kathleen, who was four when he died, said on Wednesday her family had suspicions about what killed him.

She said her parents were told William died of meningitis but they had suspected something else may have happened to him at school.

"It's hard to put into words how we feel," she said as she watched the exhumation.

Suspicious circumstances

The complaints about Letterfrack date from the 1940s to the mid-70s when the school was closed.

One hundred and thirty-five former pupils of the school have made allegations of abuse against the Brothers and a number of lay members of staff.

Irish police say prosecutions are being considered in relation to 15 people who worked at the school.

Meanwhile a support group for the survivors of child abuse has called for the bodies of all children who died in suspicious circumstances at Ireland's reform schools to be exhumed for examination.

It is estimated some 120 children died in the institutions, known for their harsh discipline, between the 1930s and 1970s.

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See also:

20 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Sex abuse risk for NI children
18 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
Boy's body is exhumed
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