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Cyril Daly

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 28 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5174
  1. Ned Stafford, Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Dublin doctor who campaigned against corporal punishment in Irish schools

Irish Independent

Cyril Daly’s 15 year battle with the Catholic Church and Irish government began in 1967 when his eldest son, 8 year old Niall, came home upset from his Catholic school in Dublin. Niall had witnessed boys in the classroom being beaten with a leather strap by a teacher as punishment. At the time, corporal punishment with canes and straps was widely practised in Irish schools.

Some 42 years later—in 2009—Daly, who practised general medicine at his north Dublin home for nearly 55 years, wrote in the Irish Independent newspaper of his feelings on that day, when his son told of violence in the classroom.

“I was enraged at such corruption of the Catholic faith,” wrote Daly, who himself remained a devout Catholic his whole life. “The concept of a priest celebrating the holy Mass in the morning, having his breakfast, and then going into school to strike the children was nauseous. Still is.”1

After learning of the beatings, Daly told the school principal that he did not want his two sons attending a school where children were struck by teachers. The principal said that school policy would not change, and Daly decided to fight the system that condoned the beating of children. He removed his sons from the school and they were taught at home for a year while awaiting openings at a Protestant primary school where corporal punishment was forbidden. Daly’s next step …

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