Grace inquiry: This time we have no-one to blame but ourselves for shameful care scandal
The apology has been elevated to high art with a pretty trusty accompanying formula. We share out blame between the Catholic Church, the State and other powerful institutions. We insist all these horrors occurred at another time and in another place. We infer by extension that these days we are all modern, far-seeing, tolerant and caring. Then we move forward in our new and purged world.
There were elements of the "historic blame formula" to be seen over the past two days as the extraordinary revelations at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home were debated in Dáil Éireann. Very understandable and genuine sorrow and anger were in evidence on all political sides and the Taoiseach again excelled himself with some very well-chosen words.
But it was noticeable that the formula was not such a fit as we also contemplated the appalling case of the woman known only as "Grace", which by strange coincidence was juxtaposed with the Tuam case. Grace's story of shocking abuse and appalling neglect only really ceased less than a decade ago - not in far previous decades which happen to lie in another century. In fact, there are strong suggestions that we may be talking about problems which are just a handful of years old.