Saturday 21 April 2018

Cop on, the time for collective victimhood has passed

The Tuam babies furore feels less like a healthy expression of questioning than simply wallowing

A statue of Jesus in the grounds of the Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A statue of Jesus in the grounds of the Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

If scientists ever invent time travel, the first people into the pod for a trip back to the past should definitely be those who insist that "Nothing Has Changed". There have certainly been a lot of them about recently, in the wake of reports that the remains of 800 babies may have been hidden in a septic tank in the grounds of a mother and baby home in Co Galway.

In their desperation not to allow apologists for Catholic orders to consign questions about the treatment of women safely to the past, many of those commenting on the tragedy of the Tuam babies were to be heard insisting that the plight of women in modern Ireland is just as invidious, and the official attitude to them equally cold, albeit that such negative attitudes are more subtly hidden or fiendishly encoded. They even purported to believe the alleged slowness of the response to the story from both Government and the mainstream media was somehow proof that there was no will to face up to the horrors perpetrated by the church.

First of all, this supposed reluctance to deal with the appalling mistreatment of residents of mother and baby homes is a figment of their imaginations. Of course governments may be less than keen to start down a road which may lead to expensive compensation claims, especially after getting its fingers burned once before over clerical child abuse; and of course officialdom does sometimes have to be prodded into action. But it's only been a few weeks since the story broke through from the low-level awareness which swam around for years into public consciousness. Already the impetus towards a full inquiry is under way.

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