Keaney was born on 5 October 1888, at Corralskin, Kiltyclogher, County Leitrim, Ireland, son of Terance Keaney, farmer, and his wife Mary, née McGowan. In 1911 he migrated to Australia and in 1916 he became a Christian Brother. In 1924 he became headmaster at Clontarf Orphanage, and he later taught at Christian Brothers College, Perth, and Christian Brothers College, Fremantle. In later life he supervised the building and running of child slave-labour camps & paedophile rings at Tardun and Bindoon using children forcibly deported from the UK. He died at Subiaco on 26 February 1954, aged 65. A statue was erected to his memory at Bindoon. In an obituary he was referred to as 'The Orphan's Friend' and as having given 'a life of devotion to the underprivileged boys…' whereas in reality this sadist routinely inflicted savage attacks and sexual abuse on his wards.
Abuse of child migrants
Keaney imposed forced labour on children under his authority. The boys were made to do the building work in bare feet. They were worked so hard that they developed burns and sores on their feet and hands. Their breakfast invariably contained brick dust. They were made to sleep on urine soaked mattresses. Furthermore, the boys would be beaten with belts, which had heavy buckles. The beatings would be conducted in front of the other boys. The boys' trousers would be pulled down, in front of the other boys, before they received their beatings.
Keaney also oversaw a culture of abuse in which other brothers and children were encouraged to rape, humiliate and abuse weaker boys. In an effort to raise awareness of the issue, Senator Andrew Murray spoke to a Matter of Public Interest stating "He (Keaney) was a sadist who indulged in criminal assault and who knowingly protected rings of predatory brothers engaged in systemic long-term sexual assault on defenceless children". His record came under unfavourable scrutiny after former students recalled his role as that of a brutal disciplinarian with an ungovernable temper, who neglected their education, exploited their labour and turned a blind eye to sexual misconduct by staff members.
Towards the end of 2016, the Christian Brothers dismantled Keaney's ornate marble grave at Bindoon Agricultural College, and moved his remains to a plot at Karrakatta Cemetery. The new grave is marked by only a simple plaque and makes no mention of his past.
- Shortill, F. D. "Keaney, Paul Francis (1888–1954)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Archived from the original on 11 April 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2011.
- Humphreys, M. (2011) Oranges & Sunshine, Corgi Books.
- Senate Hansard 2001, p. 27275
- Senate Community Affairs and References Committee (30 August 2001). "Lost Innocents: Righting the Record - Report on Child Migration". Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009.
- Butterly, Nick (2017-02-25). "Brother erased from history". The West Australian. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, Hansard page 113, Senate FP&A Hansard p.161 Archived 10 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine., 26 May 2003.
- Barry M Coldrey, The Scheme: The Christian Brothers and Childcare in Western Australia, Argyle-pacific Publishing, O'Connor, Western Australia, 1993, pp. 462 and 464.
- Western Australia Legislative Assembly, Report of the Select Committee into Child Migrants, Perth, 1996;
- House of Commons, Health Committee, The Welfare of Former British Child Migrants, Third Report, Session 1997-1998, HC 755-I and HC 755-II, Volumes I and II, London, 1997;
- Senate Community Affairs References Committee. "Inquiry into child migration". Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2011. - Links to report, submissions, public hearing transcripts;