Friday 17 November 2017

State turned its back on these infants in life, it must not do so again in death

The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway
The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway

The dead children were thrown aside, the way a piece of rubbish is scrapped. Dumped in a septic tank. No coffins for the tiny bodies in their plain shrouds, no headstones to mark the place where they lay. Pets are buried with more dignity. But those scraps of humanity were treated carelessly, as though best forgotten. As inconvenient in death as in life.

The septic tank babies, almost 800 children born to unmarried mothers in a home in Co Galway, remind us of an Ireland we might prefer to forget. Except forgetting would be another act of betrayal.

Their bones are crying out to the living. In justice, they deserve a State-sponsored investigation into their deaths. And they are due a memorial, with their names listed on it, to restore some of the dignity denied to them. In life, the State abandoned its responsibility to these babies. In death, it cannot abdicate responsibility a second time. It has a duty to act, and quickly.

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