Monday 26 September 2016

Letters: Fig leaves and flimflam can't hide shame

Published 15/06/2014 | 02:30

The site where apparently 800 babies are buried on the grounds of a (now demolished for a housing estate and playground) Mother and Baby home in Tuam Co Galway
The site where apparently 800 babies are buried on the grounds of a (now demolished for a housing estate and playground) Mother and Baby home in Tuam Co Galway

Madam – While finding the item about weather reports from Blacksod Bay interesting in the run-up to D-Day 1944, I do hope we aren't going to be served up a diet of questionable tit-bits masquerading as bona-fides of Ireland's gallant role in Europe's 20th-Century troubles in the next few years – fig leaves to cover our sense of awkwardness.

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Ireland's failure to step up to the mark in the 20th Century is a permanent embarrassment, and no amount of flimflam tangentials can change that fact.

On D-Day itself, Friday June 6, as the leaders of the free world, on the beaches of Normandy, marked the beginning of the end of Nazism, Ireland was engaged in introspectively dealing with a 'local difficulty' of its own, a crime against humanity in Tuam.

The people of Ireland may have thought they were only being led up the garden path by their 'liberators', but it turned out to be the road into a bog. And we've been trying to find our way out ever since.

Is there anyone to lead the way?

Paddy McEvoy,

Holywood, Co Down



Madam – I would like to comment on the articles in relation to the Tuam Mother and Baby home (Sunday Independent, June 8, 2014).

Throughout the various articles, the hypocrisy is breathtaking. The parents of the pregnant women, nuns, priests and bishops are excoriated.

Not one of the five articles mentions the fathers of these children.

Compare the events of those years with the current situation.

Gene Kerrigan's headline "Merely human waste to be disposed of" begs the question: Does he know what happens to the aborted child?

One of the five articles says that if it were known that a wife had been unfaithful and had a child there would be marital discord, but what about the unfaithful men?

It is a very one-sided piece, that brings to mind the New Testament story of the woman who was caught in adultery. Jesus said let those who have not sinned cast the first stone. Let us try to understand and forgive.

My mother was a teacher in the 1930s in a poor part of Manchester. She recalled children who were in class in the morning but who died before evening. Epidemics of scarlet fever, measles and meningitis were the fast killers, tuberculosis and poliomyelitis slower.

Dr Olive Duddy MB ChB MRCGP, Manchester



Madam – Gene Kerrigan (Sunday Independent, June 8, 2014), rightly focused on the central role that distorted attitudes to sex had in giving power to the Church in Ireland in the past.

We have been slow to learn from the horrific outcomes of such fealty to the opinion makers of the day and remain in danger of allowing others to dictate what are acceptable standards in our consensual sexual appetites, even in the 21st Century.

After all, it's not so long since a woman had to flee this country after a threesome with sports stars hit the news and the attendant commentary made her feel some of the 'social shaming' highlighted in Gene Kerrigan's article.

Meanwhile, women continue to be compelled to leave the State to avail of an abortion and, if some campaigners have their way, men are to be hounded for engaging in consensual sex with a prostitute.

In a secular age the media are the new clergy in terms of their power to decide the boundaries of acceptability in Irish society.

If we are to avoid the mistakes of the past, the fourth estate must take its responsibilities seriously and rigorously question those that seek to limit our freedoms, sexual or otherwise.

N Duggan,

Donabate, Co Dublin



Madam – Gene Kerrigan's analysis of the dreadful connivance across society in the shameful treatment of unmarried mothers (Sunday Independent, June 8, 2014), was so accurate – except he somehow failed to mention the silence of the media throughout those generations of cruelty.

D O'Shea,




Madam – Has the mortality rate in Tuam been placed in context? Evidentially, based on your articles (Sunday Independent, June 8, 2014), it is not so.

The articles seem to have a poor grasp of history, and fails to understand the lessons and conditions of the past.

What is the historical context of the records? Ireland was a poor rural nation without access to then modern medicines during a time of economic collapse and global conflict.

Given the emigration rates prevalent in Ireland, how much financial support could have been available?

How does the rate compare with the UK at the time in similar institutions, or with continental Europe?

What proof is there that this rate was a result of a deliberate practice rather than poor practices (similar to modern NHS issues with baby care)?

Finally, has the historical paper on which these allegations have been made been peer reviewed and referenced?

This has stoked up more than the usual anti-Catholic sentiment. Would the same outrage be prevalent if this was not Church related, and run solely by the State, as per children in the care of the HSE?

Patrick Mullane,




Madam – After hearing, through the British media, of the baby deaths at Tuam, one wasn't surprised to see substantial coverage in the Sunday Independent of last week.

Niamh Horan gave an engaging account of Fr Good's work and opinions, while ending somewhat pessimistically with what he termed 'the age-old question' of: "What is morality all about?"

One might have referred him to Oscar Wilde's observation: "There is no such thing as morality or immorality, but there is immoral emotion."

Emer O'Kelly nullified the standard traditional Catholic arguments against abortion, and by implication, contraception, by positing the value of "a clump of cells smaller than a thumbnail" against that of a life already begun.

The piece de resistance for me, however, was that by Gene Kerrigan, analytic to a point, while replete with eminently quotable passages.

He might, however, have questioned the morality or legality of the systematic indoctrination of gullible and credulous children in Catholic/republicanism, in Irish schools and homes, and to what extent it still persists.

He might have pondered this as an appropriate preparation for those driven into exile in Britain, ignorant, uneducated, hate-filled and confident in the belief of their moral superiority, many burdened by the invisible scars of childhood trauma. Contraception and abortion could be outlawed so long as surplus population might be dumped on Britain and the rest of the world.

He might have called for the sequestration of all, or most, Church property in compensation, and as a necessary first step towards its ultimate demise. He might even have dared to look over the border and called for the integration of schooling in Northern Ireland.

More fundamentally he might have pondered whether, if the Irish people knew what was coming, they would have gone along so blithely with the blood sacrifice and the associated rhetoric in 1922?

To conclude, in the words of Conor Cruise O'Brien: "Our ideology, in relation to what we actually are and want, is a lie. It is a lie that clings to us and burns, like the shirt of Nessus."

Many thanks for publishing past efforts. Your paper remains the best in Ireland.

William Barrett,

Surrey, UK



Madam – I refer to the article written by your reporter Niamh Horan about her visit to the Allen household to partake of a meal with that family. (Sunday Independent, June 8, 2014). To say that I am disgusted by it would be an understatement.

This is the same Ms Horan who rightly door-stepped Tom McFeely in an effort to call him on his disgraceful treatment of the Priory Hall residents.

Where was her moral outrage when she sat down with Tim Allen, who your paper (Sunday Independent, Jan 19, 2003) calls "a disgraced paedophile" and "a convicted pervert"?

Why not ask this convicted paedophile if he had any regrets about downloading images of children being raped or if he could justify his actions to the Sunday Independent readership, when he received community service rather then a custodial sentence for his crime?

Why was his wife Darina let compare her situation to that of Nigella Lawson? Darina Allen's husband downloaded child pornographic images which, to again quote your own paper, were at the extreme end of the scale for this type of abuse. She chose to stand by him and neither of them have ever attempted to either apologise or justify his actions.

Isn't it wonderful that Mr Allen can break bread with his family as his grandchildren run around – but what about all the trafficked children who were raped and abused for his delectation? Are they enjoying quality family time? I think not.

This family needs to answer the hard questions – or disappear from public glare.

Donal O'Donovan,




Madam – So Tim Allen sits relaxed surrounded by the laughter of his grandchildren!

I just wonder if the children who were exploited so that he could view child pornography can laugh and enjoy family life? Somehow, I doubt it.

Darina complains how hard it is to be in the glare of publicity when this came to light.

This family courts publicity to sell their wares – but they would like us to turn a blind eye to child abuse.

Margaret Hannon,

Dublin 18



Madam – A recent 'Quote of the Week' (Sunday Independent, June 1, 2014) caught my eye. It was by photographer David Bailey who said: "The only thing I taught my children was chess, – I think if you know chess, you can get through life quite easily."

Man is the only species capable of using discernment to judge right from wrong in all walks of life, from personal and business, to world governance. That is why a child trained to be a good chess player is well capable of mapping out his or her path in life.

James Gleeson,

Thurles, Co Tipperary



Madam –Unlike many of my political persuasion, I admire Eoghan Harris, even if I do not always agree with him. He has brought a depth of innovation and fresh thinking to politics in Ireland, which is only to our collective good. Unlike Eoghan, however, I have only ever been a Social Democrat. So I take with grave offence his reference to the actions of the Labour Group on Dublin City Council on the mayoralty of Dublin (Sunday Independent, June 8, 2014) as being "servile and stupid".

Following the local elections and a very confusing result, the Labour councillors considered how best we could deliver some degree of stability that would help grow our economy and jobs while protecting public services. In good faith we sought discussions with all the groups on the City Council. As late as the morning of the mayoral election these discussions included Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the Green Party and several independents as well as Labour. On the Friday morning on spurious grounds not backed up by the facts, Fine Gael withdrew from these discussions. I don't think we had any communication from Fianna Fail councillors; they just did not turn up to the next meeting.

The Labour Group recognise the democratic mandate of all elected councillors. We respect – even if we do not always like – the outcome of elections. We will work with all members of the council to help build a better Dublin for all. We will oppose the policies of Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the "Far Left" where we believe it appropriate. An agreement for mayoral stability is not an agreement on policy – it is an acceptance of democracy.

We have, however, reached agreement in relation to an approach on commercial rates and the local property tax – surely that is good for Dublin.

The next five years will be challenging for Dublin. We on the Labour Group on Dublin City Council will be robust in our defence of social democratic values. I look forward to the Sunday Independent reporting on those proceedings with the same enthusiasm as Eoghan Harris is quick to comment.

Councillor Dermot Lacey,

Leader, Labour Group,

Dublin City Council



Madam – It is with immense anger that I put pen to paper. As an unemployed substitute teacher, I was very lucky to be appointed as an exam superintendent 20km from my home for six days. As I don't receive a wage for holiday periods, this 'casual employment' is a great lift finance wise. I arrived to my appointed school last Tuesday and met with three – yes, three – retired teachers who had been appointed to do the same work; and they had been there last year as well. The only difference between them and me is that my appointment was for just six days, while their appointments were for the full exam term – 14 days for Leaving Cert and 13 days for Junior Cert.

It is with disappointment and anger that I join the dole queue on Wednesday morning to hopefully hear that I have enough credits built up over my 'sporadic' employment during the year to get Jobseeker's Benefit for the summer, while these retired teachers get this lucrative employment on top of their pension.

I ask the minister and the State Exams Commission to change this unfair system and give this full-term employment to unemployed substitute teachers in future.

(Name and address with Editor)



Madam – You truly surprise. I arrive home from a week in England; no newspapers; no email; no news on radio or TV. I pick up my Sunday Independent – and there I am. The longest letter I ever remember seeing published, saying a lot of not very nice things about economic correspondents or the media in general and indeed your own publications.

Thank you; I congratulate you for publishing what no other newspaper, radio/TV station or economist/ politician/journalist will allow into public debate.

I don't think I'll bow out just yet.

Padraic Neary,


Sunday Independent

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