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Religious agenda behind prejudice against single mothers

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People pay their respects at the site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman

People pay their respects at the site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman

Photo Andy Newman

People pay their respects at the site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway. Photo: Andy Newman

I agree with Fr Con McGillicuddy (Irish Independent, March 13) that the Ireland of 1925 was a very different place to today.

He mentions the slums, the poverty, the infant mortality and the lack of ,or under-funding of, social and medical services.

There is no doubt it was indeed a different place.

I have read that the infant mortality rate in Dublin at the turn of the 20th century was greater than it was in Calcutta, India.

Fr McGillicuddy writes that "entitlement for single mothers did not exist. Who helped? The nuns".

Many nuns, to their credit, helped those in need when the State offered them no succour.

However, we must also remember that the State and Irish society at the time of the mother and baby homes were fervently religious and it was a religious-driven agenda obsessed with sin, purity, guilt and shame that fomented the toxic culture of prejudice against single mothers and children born out of wedlock and resulted in them being treated as outcasts.

Rob Sadlier

Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

 

Cool heads needed on past horrors

As we learn the details of yet another of the horrific systems of past Irish governance, the angry response from people who are fortunate to live in a totally different age is to take a scattergun approach to each and every living member of religious orders, irrespective of their innocence or guilt.

The past is indeed a different country, and the people of Ireland did, indeed, do things differently there. No living person today can undo past deeds and actions - in mother and baby homes, orphanages or other institutions - no matter how much they wish to do so.

If you are angry about the past, is it not far better to participate in a cool-headed and thoughtful manner in society today?

Today, Ireland is at a political juncture, where all political parties are faced with the option of creating innovative policies that can deliver a just society in practice.

Today, the responsibility lies more than ever in the hands of the people of Ireland: since the 1960s there has been access to a more broad and diverse range of media than at any time in the past.

Each person is morally obliged to inform themselves. Your moral obligation to vote also means that after your ballot is cast, you are obliged to participate in ensuring your constituency representatives do not become mere rubber stamps. For this is what allowed the disgraceful, unchristian deeds to occur in the past.

The time for serious thinking on the future of Ireland is here.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

 

The more I read about how we treated the females among us over the last 100 years, the sicker I feel. Although I'm only 60, and have never sent a female family member into an institution because she was pregnant, I do feel guilty.

Guilty for being part of a society where it was acceptable to the majority to allow our sisters to be treated as slaves and worse. I apologise to all our sisters who were abandoned and whose tears we ignored.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

 

Time for a U-turn - if EU reforms

The House of Lords last week voted in favour of all those from the EU who live in the UK retaining their rights to stay, be employed and claim benefits.

Almost straight away a Dutch minister spoke up and said Britons in Europe should be treated the same. It takes two to tango. I hope the European politicians now go further and start admitting the EU needed reform all along, just as the British said.

Who knows, if they do show a willingness to reform maybe at this 11th hour the British can call off Brexit altogether in the way UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson himself once predicted.

Nigel F H Boddy

Darlington, UK

 

Zoos can't meet animals' needs

Even in the best circumstances, it's impossible for zoos to meet all the unique environmental, nutritional, climatic, and social needs of the various species they hold captive.

Reports that 109 animals - including several from critically endangered species - have died in two short years at Dublin Zoo (Irish Independent, March 13) should be a wake-up call for anyone who still harbours the illusion that these institutions serve any purpose beyond condemning intelligent beings to a lifetime of frustration.

Captivity breaks animals' spirits and often their bodies, and our money would be far better spent on programmes that protect wildlife populations than on propping up these animal prisons.

The ultimate salvation for endangered animals lies in conserving their habitats, not in sentencing them to a life in captivity.

Jennifer White

Assistant press Officer, Peta UK

London, UK

 

Pensioners, raise your voices

I read that Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe proposes the Government should slash income tax (Irish Independent, March 13).

He should be ashamed of himself to make such a proposal while public service pensioners have to pay the pension levy and the USC on their pensions, which they paid into while they were working.

I am an 80-year-old retired second-level school teacher paying €80 a month in pension levy and USC.

We paid our way when we were working, and we paid again to get the country out of debt.

It's time now for all public-service pensioners to raise their voices and force this Government to give us back our pensions immediately by abolishing the pension levy and USC. We have waited long enough. "Níl neart go cuir le chéile."

Desmond Nolan

Annaghdown, Co Galway

 

Don't get cold feet, Enda

Looking at the weather forecast for this week on the east coast of the United States, I hope Taoiseach Enda Kenny brought suitable clothing - especially thermal socks - for the expected heavy snow and freezing conditions.

It wouldn't do for him to get cold feet when it comes to meeting US President Donald Trump and asking a big favour on behalf of the 50,000 illegal or, as they are termed, 'undocumented' Irish in the US.

David Bradley

Drogheda, Co Louth

Irish Independent