| 6.3°C Dublin


Twisted values and ‘perverse morality’ of old Ireland laid bare

Senan Molony


Close

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

We’ve seen the Philomena movie, most of us — yet all can still see, dotted around the country, the dripping stone-clad exteriors of the remaining Mother and Baby Homes, mute edifices to a gigantic indifference. And mass death.

It was Tuam that caused another commission to be set up to catalogue our past horrors.

And five years later it left the Taoiseach holding the report.

Answering for past generations and all arms of State, with the Church nowhere to be seen.

Micheál Martin was even asked to apologise on behalf of Fianna Fáil, and cavilled at that —despite the strangely strong bond between politically-dominant Dev and Catholic Archbishop John Charles McQuaid.

Yet Micheál did not fail the test.

“I would draw a distinction between religiosity and Christianity,” he said. The Church had perpetuated a “perverse morality” that undermined the value of every human being.

Mother and Baby Homes were established for the express purpose of protecting people, the Taoiseach noted. Instead “the opposite happened — you had a reduced chance of survival”. A vivid illustration of twisted values.

He spoke of the repeated efforts documented in the report aimed at getting an ‘incompetent’ Mother Superior out of the running of the Bessborough home, which were blocked by the Bishop in Micheál’s native Cork.

At this press conference, at last, were four women and two men on the platform. The signers worked mutely, their openness and inclusivity contrasting the silent and pernicious undercurrents that transmitted tyrannical attitudes to almost everyone in old Ireland.

Anne Rabbitte, minister of state for children, passionately told how she was “battling deep anger” at what she read — including a bitter remark on a teenager giving birth: “Another little piglet in the world.”

What in heaven’s name had we become?

Never again.

Online Editors


Privacy