Catherine Corless has done humanity a great service in the courage, determination and integrity she showed in bringing to light the extent of the desecration of the bodies of innocent children and the barbaric conditions in which they lived, died and were buried.
I remember well the whispered murmurings when a girl became pregnant outside of marriage. The euphemism that she had 'jumped the fence' seemed to imply that the man had remained in his assigned enclosure. The girl disappeared; her return after nine months rekindled the gossip that surrounded her and her family.
I remember one case where a young unmarried mother who, on returning from seeing her baby for the last time, had the courage to attend the local dance but was shunned by the men. The male dominance in church and State worked against the humane consideration of the place of women in Irish society.
Additionally, we have all been blinded by a narrow concept of respect for human life. The focusing of moral debate on contraception and abortion has inhibited a more refined sense of our moral responsibility for one another.
However, the treatment of unmarried mothers and their offspring cannot be purged by just condemning the past. The past can only be redeemed by addressing the equivalent realities of the present.
The existence of widespread food poverty in Ireland, particularly in our cities, ensures that there are many children who go to bed with an unfed stomach. Hundreds of our citizens have nowhere to rest at night. Inhumanity is not to be found just in distant lands or distant times, it is to be found in our own time and in our own land.
Love and care are not concepts that sit easily in the pragmatic world of free enterprise capitalism.
Sadly, what lies ahead of us is not an outbreak of repentance and humanity but a return to a new wave of unfettered acquisitiveness where enough is never enough.
EDITH ROAD, OXFORD
ASYLUM SEEKERS DESERVE MORE
Unfortunately it will take a lot more than Colette Browne's excellent article on June 5 ('Ireland didn't cherish all its children equally. We still don't') to move our tearful politicians to actually stop "immiserating the living".
I am particularly angered and saddened at the callousness and cruelty being meted out to the asylum seekers in our country. Men, women and children are being denied their human rights, incarcerated in "direct-provision centres". Those of us shocked at what happened in mother and baby homes all those years ago must surely be equally moved by the plight of people seeking asylum here.
This Government has the chance now to truly show the whole world how Ireland cherishes its current children.
ENNISCORTHY, CO WEXFORD
GLARING OMISSION IN COVERAGE
While following the Tuam babies story, there is one question which I cannot get out of my head.
Why is it that an issue which has been public knowledge since the 1970s suddenly dominates the news agenda for days on end as if it had come to light in recent weeks?
In all the recent coverage not one columnist or commentator has sought to address this question.
HAROLD'S CROSS, DUBLIN 6W
TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTIANITY
Fr Con McGillicuddy (Letters, June 9) shifts any blame for the mother and child home scandals from the Catholic Church by saying "Christian families would not bear the public shame of caring for a daughter who had a child born out of wedlock".
He conveniently omits the fact that it was an authoritarian Catholic Church that created this stigma in the first place. I as a Christian will readily admit to that. So too should Fr McGillicuddy.
WE'RE ALL CONNECTED
John Cuffe in his letter 'Hatred of sexuality and women', (June 9) describes the Irish State from its foundation as "sick and tortured, angst- and guilt-ridden". The sad reality is that this disparaging description of Ireland in those days is quite accurate. I ask have we changed sufficiently?
Although regaining our independence from the British, we replaced them with a master which was just as punitive – the Catholic Church. Sex and the Catholic Church just did not mix.
The late Oliver J Flanagan claimed "there was no sex in Ireland before television", which was indicative of people's attitudes at the time.
Yet the reality was being dealt with in various Irish solutions to Irish problems.
Unmarried mothers were sent to Magdalene laundries or other mother and baby homes. Sexual abuse, while occurring in institutions and families, was never spoken about. Homosexuality was illegal.
Unless we in this present-day society realise that we are all inter-connected and that, as John Donne said, we are aware "for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee", our children and grandchildren will be just as shocked as we are today,
THE SPECIAL OLYMPICS
It is with great disappointment that I learned recently that RTE has no plans to provide any live coverage of the forthcoming Special Olympics national finals. Next weekend's finals will be the culmination of four years' training by thousands of athletes, not to mention the priceless social, educational and mental health benefits for them.
The national finals will feature 1,500 athletes competing in 14 different sports, supported by 3,000 volunteers and thousands of family members who will travel to Limerick for this amazing event which occurs only once every four years.
Considering that this will be one of the biggest sporting events in our country this year, I feel it deserves live coverage.
As Limerick is the city of culture we are also missing out on promoting the city as a tourist destination. Following RTE's response to me on the issue, I set up an online petition urging it to reconsider its decision and have been delighted with the ongoing support countrywide that the petition has received.
As a mother of an athlete who is fortunate to have qualified for the finals I wouldn't miss this opportunity for the world.
SENATOR MARY MORAN
SEANAD LABOUR SPOKESPERSON ON EDUCATION, DISABILITY, MENTAL HEALTH AND EQUALITY
DO THE RIGHT THING, TAOISEACH
Dear Taoiseach, your government has not fulfilled its election promise to address in a fair and equitable manner the financial debacle left by the previous administration.
In spite of that failure, your government preaches economy from the ivory tower of an enviable salary and pension plan regime, whilst bowing in abject servility to the international financiers and corporate interests who have turned the lives of so many into a living hell.
If you really want to serve Ireland and her people, please sacrifice your political identity and do what the country requires.
If you are unwilling or unable to accept such a responsibility – and assuming that you and your colleagues possess a modicum of genuine human empathy – you will resign en masse.
DUN LAOGAHIRE, CO DUBLIN