Don't rush to judgment over the Tuam babies scandal

Schoolgirls pay their respects at the site of the unmarked grave at the mother and babies home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman

Letters to the Editor

It is frightening that so many letters to the editor, articles, programmes, and interviews are already apportioning "blame" for the deaths of babies and young children found in Tuam, and in possibly many other sites throughout Ireland.

Frightening, because they involve an impatient rush to judgment - well before the agreed facts of what took place have been fully collected, described, and analysed.

In describing what took place in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, some on social media have, disturbingly, exploited the use of the word "Holocaust".

Whatever took place in Tuam and elsewhere may indeed turn out to have been truly horrific, cruel, abusive, and maybe even criminal, but it will never turn out to deserve even the slightest comparison with the "Holocaust" - where millions upon millions were industrially slaughtered, including over one-and-a-half million Jewish babies and children.

Many people are losing their reasoning abilities in all of this and in so doing are leading others to believe the alleged guilt of "the usual suspects" (that is, the Church, the nuns, the State) before anyone can be sure about what exactly took place in Tuam and elsewhere.

Many in the media are not without blame in engaging in this frenzied rush to judgment.

Rather, they should be acting much more responsibly before presuming, implying, or being seen to point the finger of guilt at their usual suspects, especially before a properly conducted scientific investigation has been carried out.

Ivor Shorts

Rathfarnham, Dublin

Christ preached forgiveness

I am in full agreement with Sean Smith's assertion that "religious institutions should not be judged by comparison with the behaviour of other sections of society, but by comparison with the ethos they claim to espouse", in his letter, 'Hypocritical Church should be held to its own 'high' standards' (Irish Independent, March 15).

That ethos finds its source in the person of Jesus Christ. The season of Lent reminds us that there can be no deflection from the awful reality of sin. Denial, shifting blame, cover up and silence can indeed deflect us from the truth of our sinfulness.

But so too can holding on to anger, judgment and condemnation. At the centre of our Lenten reflections stands the crucified Christ. "For our sake," St Paul tells us, "he became the sin" (2 Cor 5:21). He became "a thing despised and rejected by men, a man to make people screen their faces" (Isaiah 53).

The cross shows us both the "high standard" to which all Christians are called as well as the depths to which we can fall. The ethos that Christ wishes all to espouse is that of the forgiveness of one another's sins as well as mercy shown to all, but most especially to those who least deserve it.

And yes, that may very well be us, the bishops, priests and religious.

Fr Freddy Warner sma

Portumna, Co Galway

Hijab ban makes no sense

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that employers can ban workers from wearing religious symbols at work.

However, reacting to the news, British Prime Minister Theresa May said in the House of Commons: "Individual institutions can make their own policies but it is not for government to tell women what they can or cannot wear and we want to continue that strong tradition of freedom of expression."

We must not forget that over the decades, many individual institutions have successfully employed hijab-wearing Muslim women, and their headscarf has never been a hindrance to their work.

The ruling may also result in a ban on all religious dress and symbols at work, such as Christian crosses, nuns' outfits, Jewish skullcaps and Sikh turbans, as well as the Muslim headscarf.

Practically, this would cause much disruption for employers wishing to impose such policies.

It doesn't make sense for any level-headed employer to be influenced by the European Court of Justice ruling to ban workers from wearing religious symbols at work.

Navida Sayed

Address with Editor

We need to engage with loyalists

Southern politicians and journalists never mix, engage or talk with Northern loyalists and therefore have seized upon Brexit to promote the concept of Irish unity encouraged by Northern nationalists, who tell them what they want to hear.

The term 'loyalist' explains it all and until there is a real attempt to understand the mindset of loyalists there will never be any meaningful dialogue between North and South in spite of the acres of print and endless debate on radio and TV.

The only way forward is a return to the approach of former taoiseach Seán Lemass.

William Shortland

Blessington, Co Wicklow

Turkey fuelling Islamophobia

The Turkish foreign minister's claim that Europe would plunge into the abyss of holy wars is far off the mark. This does not help the cause of peace.

In fact, it fuels the surge of populism and Islamophobia and cements the belief that Muslims are after the Islamisation of the European continent. This does not prove that Turkey is fit to be a bridge between East and West.

European countries are right to ban rallies intended to shore up support for foreign agendas.

But it was another proof of Europe's incompetence when it bestowed lavish sums of money on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in return for stemming the influx of refugees.

Meanwhile, the EU has been doing little to support countries like Jordan and Lebanon, which are on the frontlines of the global refugee crisis and the war on terror.

What we need is a coherent policy to heal old, festering wounds and to help set a new path for charity and peaceful reconciliation for humanity as a whole.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, UK

Appeal for long-lost relatives

I'm seeking the help of the public regarding the Somerville and Hodgins families of Drogheda.

My grandfather was Samuel Peter Somerville, born to parents Samuel Alexander Somerville and Elizabeth Smith. He married my grandmother, Margaret Hodgins, daughter of George Hodgins and Margaret Gregory. My grandparents resided on Platin Road. Does anyone have connections to either family?

Particularly, I'm looking for photographs of my great-grandparents, George Hodgins and Margaret Gregory. George Hodgins served in World War I before he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland.

If anyone has any connections to the above families, please email me at, and I will be in touch to share my research.

Stuart Somerville

Birmingham, UK