News Letters

Friday 19 September 2014

Painful, buried past needs to be reflected in a better future

Published 05/06/2014 | 02:30

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The mass grave of 796 children in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman
The mass grave of 796 children in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman

It was sad to learn of another dark chapter in our history regarding a cemetery holding the remains of 796 babies, toddlers, children and young adults who, it is believed, died of malnutrition or infectious diseases at a religious-run and state-funded home for unmarried mothers in Tuam, Co Galway, from 1925 to 1961. It closed in 1961 and a housing estate was built in its place.

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A local historian and genealogist heard of the forgotten resting place and has set up a committee to raise funds for a commemorative plaque at the cemetery.

It will cost €7,000, and more than €4,000 has been raised. The local community and local politicians are very supportive. It is thought the children were buried without coffins in unmarked graves. It is proposed that an inquiry be held as to why so many died over 40 years.

There will be nice state speeches in 2016 for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, but little said of what a difficult country it was back then. It is still hard for those most in need to be listened to by the State.

Take, for example, the discretionary medical cards removed as an austerity measure from those with serious illnesses and conditions, who were over the threshold for a normal medical card.

Children and adults with serious illnesses had these cards removed with no taking into account of the costs of their medical treatments and supports. All healthy children under six, in comparison, get medical cards regardless of their parents' wealth.

The Government steadily ignored all the pleas and now says it will respond to voters' anger, shown at the recent local and European elections, and legislation may be passed to solve it – which shows the power of voting.

I appreciate being Irish, but not the way the country is run at times. Governments, and the public service which runs the country, can get it wrong and are slow to put it right.

NAME AND ADDRESS WITH EDITOR

WHERE WERE THE FATHERS?

The sadness surrounding reports on the Tuam, Co Galway, mother-and-baby home reminds us all of our not-too-distant past. The public must consider the tragedy in the context of the country's economic and social profile of the time.

One wonders if the fathers of all these 'unwanted' children should have input into the proposed inquiry, given that they have more to answer for, rather than simply blaming the religious order of nuns who inherited the expectant mothers seeking shelter.

As a friend of many nuns, who dedicated their lives to serving Ireland's education and healthcare development during the period, it would be wrong not to engage with all relevant parties.

PEGGY LEE

NAAS, CO KILDARE

EMBARRASSMENT OF OUR RICHES

No money for medical cards; no money for special needs assistants; no money to open much-needed hospital wards; no money for funding charity groups; and no money for the elderly or vulnerable. But mention an MEP losing their seat, or a councillor who failed to get re-elected, and the money for the golden handshakes and pensions magically appears. Is there a full wallet somewhere especially for the elite and chosen few?

CATHERINE DOLAN

TRALEE, CO KERRY

SO-CALLED 'FRIENDS' IN EUROPE

Why should we even listen to the troika or European economists? They say deflation is undesirable and that they know all things economic so, all things being equal, we should not be in deflation.

The proof of the pudding, though, and the proof that these people haven't a clue what they are talking about, is that austerity is causing deflation. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the less money that one pours into a system, the less money there will be to tax.

But let's take a cynical view of what is happening. Is the centre of the EU experiencing austerity? The centre is getting increasingly wealthy as a result of austerity. The centre is also beginning to expand political power that is not respectful to member nations. The centre is assuming control, based on the centre's version of how poor or rich the periphery is.

These are the actions of an empire. All empires collapse when the centre becomes ignorantly rich based on taxes it levies on the periphery.

The news from the European elections that €200bn worth of fish has been harvested from Irish waters by our "European friends"; that Ireland contributes €2bn in taxes; and all the hidden social welfare that leaves this country for non-national children who never lived here paints a very unfriendly picture of our friends at the centre. It is also beginning to paint a very poor picture of the parties who have negotiated with our European friends.

DERMOT RYAN

ATTYMON, ATHENRY, CO GALWAY

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON SUDAN

The global opprobrium resulting from the death sentence handed down to Meriam Yahia Ibrahim in Sudan, for refusing to repudiate her Christian faith, seemingly has had an impact. The Sudanese government is giving indications she will be released. However, the worry is that 'leniency' could be forgotten once her plight slips from the media spotlight.

I would urge the people of Ireland to keep the pressure on the Sudanese government by writing to their embassy in London at 3 Cleveland Row, St James's, London SW1A 1DD, or emailing info@sudanembassy.org .uk to express their concerns. Alternatively, they may use the form letter to be found on the Christian Solidarity Worldwide website.

REV PATRICK G BURKE

CASTLECOMER, CO KILKENNY

PURPLE HAZE COVERS E-CIG DEBATEIt seems some people are using e-cig devices to ingest liquid cannabis. If the HSE hears about this it will suffer an attack of the vapours.

TOM FARRELL

FOREST ROAD, SWORDS, CO DUBLIN

LABOUR CAN RELATE TO SPRING

On the Labour leadership question I have heard the view expressed that Arthur Spring lacks "relative experi-ence". Surely that's one thing the man has . . . the experience of a relative?

TOM GILSENAN

BEAUMONT, DUBLIN

TIME FOR THE QUEEN TO STEP ASIDE

King Juan Carlos's abdication of the throne is commendable. Like Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands before, time has come for a renewal of the monarchy institution.

It is true that Queen Elizabeth II has been a source of strength, unity and cohesion in Britain. Her untrammelled grace, dedication and intuitive empathy has had far-reaching domestic and international clout beyond limitations.

Her nation is grateful for her sense of duty and sound judgment at times of turbulence and economic and political frustrations. However, it is time to inject young and fresh blood in the monarchy.

DR MUNJED FARID AL QUTOB

LONDON NW2

WOMEN CAN SAVE THE CHURCH

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin speaks of the "dire need for priests in Ireland". He should see where the problem is. Only celibate males may apply, women definitely not wanted.

It took the Catholic Church some 1,800 years to stop supporting slavery. Ordaining women as priests must wait much longer – unless Dr Martin and other bishops dare to suggest otherwise to Pope Francis?

COLM HOLMES

BLACKROCK, CO DUBLIN

Irish Independent

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