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Where do you start?…. March 3, 2017

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

“The Commission has completed its test excavation of the Galway site and today confirmed that “significant quantities of human remains have been discovered” in a structure which appears to be “related to the treatment/containment of sewerage and/or waste water”.

The structure where the remains were found in is long and divided into 20 chambers. The Commission is not yet clear if it was ever used for sewerage or waste water.

There were remains found in at least 17 of the 20 chambers. A small number of the remains were recovered and analysed.

The analysis has put the ages of the deceased at between 35 foetal weeks to two to three years old.”

Only for he work of Catherine Corless and others this wouldn’t have come to light. It’s truly disgusting. I was born in one of these places and the treatment is beyond words. Babies and toddlers just tossed into a fucking sewer!!




1. Tomboktu - March 3, 2017

How long before some expert is wheeled out to tell us the infant rate of death from natural causes in institutions in the mid twentieth century?


WorldbyStorm - March 3, 2017

Genuinely sickening report.


2. GW - March 3, 2017

Grrrr…. it just goes on and on. Officially sanctioned abuse and cover-up.


3. GW - March 3, 2017

The more the images this report evokes play through my head the madder I get.

And I’m going to have to bite my lip in front of some priesteen this weekend.

(deep slow breathing…)


4. dublinstreams - March 3, 2017

“Babies and toddlers just tossed into a fucking sewer!!” Outraged statements like this caused Catherine Coreless and the truth a lot of harm previously.


5. oconnorlysaght - March 3, 2017

Recently, I remarked, as a few brave souls have remarked before, that the ROI and the Stalinised USSR had more vices in common than either liked to imagine. For any fainthearts (do such people follow this website?), it is overdue time to say that Christian Ireland has had its own Gulag Archipelago.

Liked by 1 person

CMK - March 3, 2017

No, you’re spot on. Add in the psychiatric hospitals that served more or less the same purpose as psychiatric hospitals in the USSR and there is definitely a gulag archipelago here.

The only differing piece being the fact that elements of our gulag system were run in fact businesses.



EWI - March 5, 2017

I feel that it’s time that there was a wider appreciation as well, that most of these were handed over to the RCC not by de Valera but Cosgrave, despite what reading the Indo and the Times might lead you to believe.


ivorthorne - March 5, 2017

You know what, I’d love it if it was possible (without infringing on the privacy of the victims) to name the individual parishes and families who handed their daughters over to these prisons. Not to mention the families of the men who having put the women in the position where their own families victimised them, sat back and let their children grow up in prisons.

Blaming the RCC or FF or FG is too abstract. People need to realise that these victims were their neighbours and relatives. They need to see where the very Irish way of “taking care” of problems “discretely” and keeping information “in the family” led them. Avoiding public scandal was the aim, just as it often is with child abuse, domestic violence etc. today.

There’s a lot of good things we’ve learned at the knee from our parents and grandparents but some of the attitudes that allowed these incidents to happen remain.

If we look at some of the reports around the Mary Boyle case, even today, there are families and wider communities (including arms of the state and cliques within political circles) who are willing to deny victims justice and cover up wrong doing. For some of family members, avoiding public scandal takes precedence over justice or meeting the needs of families.


sonofstan - March 6, 2017

Well, yes. I see what you mean, but, as with most things, it can be a tangled weave of the personal and the political. I’ve no interest in being confessional, but the story of how I got to be born in such a place (not Tuam) involved all sorts of motives, including some, possibly misplaced kindness. It would be too easy to counsel bravery to a generation where the consequences would have been catastrophic.

I agree though; fathers got away with, almost, horribly literall in some cases, murder.


oconnorlysaght - March 6, 2017

The original responsibility goes back to the colonial period. Dublin Castle was happy to hand over such responsibilities to religious bodies, hoping that, as a quid pro quo, they would act as a break on Irish nationalism. For its own part, once semi-victorious, Irish nationalism was happy enough to continue the system, Partly for reasons similar to those of the Brits conservative ideological maintenance), partly because it believed it to be more economical than direct state control (It wasn’t).
Two further points, it is likely that whoever ran these establishments, the inmates would have had it bad. The problem was that clerical control, boulstered by religious deference erected a paper curtain around the system against investigation and possible redress for a longer period than otherwise.
Finally, to pursue the Gulag metaphor, it is worth remembering that at least the Russian aparachiki did not claim to administer the camps for the good of the inmates.


EWI - March 8, 2017

Raynor, you’re right in what you say, but there’s a qualifier in that ‘Irish nationalism’ doesn’t quite give the whole story – which if you believe the IT and the rest of the FG press, would have people believe that de Valera was responsible.

The likes of the South Dublin Union and Crooksling TB sanatorium were public welfare facilities established and run by Dublin Corporation (in the teeth of opposition by ‘ratepayers’ for the latter at least). The Corpo was among a number of local authorities which refused to implement CnaG’s austerity policies in the post-Civil War era, and were suppressed as a result. It was at this point that so much public property was seized by Cosgrave’s government and handed over to the RCC, for the reasons you describe but also to relieve their ‘ratepayer’ voter base.


6. fergal - March 3, 2017

From the people who are……….pro-life

Liked by 1 person

ivorthorne - March 3, 2017


But not surprising. The RCC will rightly get murdered in the press over this but don’t forget our grandparents and/or their peers. People knew that girls were being sent to these places and tactically forgot about them.

For something like this to happen requires acquiescence and collaboration on the part of the wider community.

And don’t doubt for a minute you’re not guilty of the same (if hopefully to a lesser degree). We all pass psychiatric hospitals and residential centres for people with disabilities. You’d need to have lived under a rock not to know that while there may be some good people trying their best in these places, there are “patients” and “service users” in these places who are being assaulted (sexually and physically), locked in rooms that resemble prison cells, chemically restrained and financially abused.


CMK - March 3, 2017

Direct provision centres are modern say equivalents along with the deportation regime.


ivorthorne - March 3, 2017

Direct Provision is horrible. But at least those people are visible, often with their families, can access the wider community and tell us about what happens.

People with ID in residential facilities are more vulnerable because they don’t have those small mercies.

In both cases, it seems really difficult to generate change and there’s little momentum. People just don’t care enough for politicians to make it a priority.


Alibaba - March 6, 2017

Ivorthorne, you say, ‘People knew that girls were being sent to these places and tactically forgot about them.’

To be fair, there is hardly any families in Ireland of 1940s to the 1960s that didn’t know of someone who had an ‘illegitimate’ child. But this was a  taboo subject of scandalous nature, not to be mentioned, but hidden at the instigation of the Church and State. Single mothers were ‘fallen women’ and ‘grave sinners’, whose children were the result of ‘wickedness’. That’s why many were taken out of the family home. Some fled in horror to England and became known as the PFIs, Pregnant from Ireland. Others entered places like the mother and baby homes run by the Sisters.

“The nuns provided secrecy, but they exacted a  price. Girls and women entering these institutions, unless they had independent means, had to ‘work their passage’ with hard manual labour, scrubbing and cleaning indoors, working the land outdoors. Many women whose children were not fostered or adopted immediately had to work in the convents for as much as two years after their babies were born before the nuns would agree to take charge of their children”. (Banished Babies / Mike Milotte)

Yes, the very same nuns paid by the State which abandoned vulnerable children to them and gave the church the preserve of these children’s futures. I suggest it was nothing short of a tsunami of suffering for those affected and Church and State should be nailed for it.


ivorthorne - March 6, 2017

“To be fair, there is hardly any families in Ireland of 1940s to the 1960s that didn’t know of someone who had an ‘illegitimate’ child. But this was a taboo subject of scandalous nature, not to be mentioned, but hidden at the instigation of the Church and State.”

You’re right Alibaba, but I guess what I’d say is that we have to look at what we mean when we say “at he instigation of the Church and State”.

An individual trying to fight against the Church and State was at a disadvantage because the Church and State were powerful, but that power was not divine in nature. These institutions emerged from society and reflected our views. To borrow a phrase, power resides where men think it resides.

When Stalin asked how many battalions does the Pope have, the question reflected the fact that the power of the RCC lies not in its ability to physically force people to adopt a policy. Likewise, FF and FG were not an invasionary force who threatened people with physical harm if they did not send these women and children to these places, and if society at large did not see these people as lesser, as others, and saw their treatment as an injustice, FF and FG would have lost power because they would have lost votes. The situation maintained because, in general, the Irish people agreed with the assessment of these people as problems who should be hidden away or they were indifferent to their suffering.

These same problems manifest themselves today in different ways. CMK points to the issues we see today with direct provision. On the one hand, racist attitudes sometimes see a segment of people not wanting to see these foreigners housed near them. Others will slap themselves on the back for tolerating their presence nearby even if you could get them to admit that direct provision is itself unjust. Others welcome the profit and employment that these centres bring.

In the case of Aras Attracta where residents were abused (at least) up until recently, that particular institution should never have existed. At the time it was created, the recommendations were that these people should have had community based supported living but people lobbied local politicians who in turn lobbied national politicians who saw it as an opportunity to create a better employment PR story.

Yesterday, Gene Kerrigan wrote:

“Democracy, in short, involves a range of organised peaceful pressure from various interest groups, pushing and pulling at the machinery of government, arguing and blocking, in the perpetual pursuit of a share of rights and resources.”

This is what happened in the case of industrial schools, mother and baby homes, direct provision centres and residential insitutions for people with additional needs. When a group becomes “de-otherised” we stand back and call foul. We recognise the ways in which their human rights have been violated, but bizzarely, this seldom seems to see people recognise that maybe, the other groups that we see as “other” might also be victims of human rights’ abuses.

By all means, let us nail the RCC and the State, but let’s not pretend that this will solve the problem. Michael Noonan is one of the most senior politicians in the state and he will probably be re-elected as often as he chooses to run. This is the man who threatend Briget Cole’s family time and time again. When his role in the Grace controversy is uncovered, he will remain a viable candidate. Nobody will object if you described his actions in either of these cases as problematic, but they just aren’t important enough problems to most people to disqualify him from office – let alone see him punished for these actions.


RosencrantzisDead - March 6, 2017

Collective guilt over the Magdalen Laundries has been raised before here and elsewhere.

I remain unconvinced by this argument, and I believe the motivation for its deployment to be suspect. When we hear of all too frequent prosecutions for rape or child abuse, we never see people posting online (at least in ‘mainstream’ websites) about how we all should be ashamed for perpetuating rape culture or misogyny. We do not even see that on here, where it would have a more receptive audience. Why does this argument become common now rather than another time? Why is now the right time to discuss how the whole of society is to blame for events and not just the individual?

It is an argument that presumes power in a society is always liberal and pluralistic, and ignores how power can be conferred on a small elite or how it operates to prevent open discussion of certain policies. It holds that we all benefitted and omits that some benefitted much, much more than others. In short, ‘we are all to blame’ is another permutation of ‘we all partied’.

Does the existence of collective admit of a different solution? If we are all to blame for permitting the Church to opertae like this then, surely, we should seek total dis-establishment of the RCC, complete removal of its involvement in the public sphere and control of its charities – social services by another name – be ceded to the state. Yet, the same voices who claim ‘collective guilt’ will become a chorus of nay-saying, claiming it might impact on free expression or conscience or ‘not all nuns…’.


ivorthorne - March 6, 2017

Collective Guilt is a problematic concept – at least in how it is deployed with regard to specific actions or atrocities.

It’s not about guilt or responsibilitiy. It’s about cause.

Certain classes of behaviour and attitudes led to situations where normal safeguards against injustice did not apply. It was okay to abuse and neglect these children because they were somehow different, other and lesser. We would do well to remember this because, everybody has unconscious biases that affect the way we look at those we see to be different.

This does not mean that specific individuals should not be prosecuted. As with the Nazi war criminals on the run, the fact that they’re old should not mean they evade justice.

I’ve always enjoyed Hannah_Arendt’s writing on totalitarianism. One quote that would be relevant:

“Persecution of powerless or power-losing groups may not be a very pleasant spectacle, but it does not spring from human meanness alone. What makes men obey or tolerate real power and, on the other hand, hate people who have wealth without power, is the rational instinct that power has a certain function and is of some general use. Even exploitation and oppression still make society work and establish some kind of order.”

It is this level of analysis that is most useful when trying to avoid these things happening in the future. If we look at Tony Blair and Labour now, Blair is widely hated. He is pretty toxic. But while Blair is personally responsible for many of the negative outcomes associated with the Iraq war, there were many others who did the same and the Blairite wing of the Labour party would probably make the same mistakes tomorrow.

The ideology and order that led Blair to make the “mistakes” he made remains and it is the ideology and its associated biases, attitudes and policies that pose the real threat.


7. Tomboktu - March 3, 2017

A small gesture, but needed: the Dáil and Seanad should pass a special Bill to refund Catherine Corless her costs out of State monies, tax free.

Liked by 1 person

8. sonofstan - March 5, 2017

” I was born in one of these places and the treatment is beyond words”

As was I.

Liked by 1 person

9. CL - March 6, 2017

“But Corless adds that while the bodies were hidden partly to save money, “Partly it was not to expose the fact that so many children were dying in their care.”
Corless speaks with undisguised disgust about the present day authorities attempts to frustrate and block her research…
even to the present day that arrogance is still there where they won’t – nobody is taking responsibility….”


10. CL - March 6, 2017

“It is also clear, of course, that an effective state was not operating.

From the 1930s up until the early 1990s, it permitted approximately 35,000 Irish children and young people who were orphans, truants, and from dysfunctional families to be sent to a network of 250 Catholic Church-run industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels.

Government inspectors clearly failed to highlight or to stop the “endemic” of deaths, beatings, assaults, molestations, rapes and ritual humiliations.”


ivorthorne - March 6, 2017

Good article but I wonder, to what extent did these inspectors fail to highlight problems so much as they saw some of these things as appropriate or just?

Deaths and rapes are one thing, but beatings, assaults and ritual humiliations were seen as appropriate within families and in schools.

Even in the early days of my childhood, I knew of teachers who continued to use the “rod” even after corporal punishment was banned. During my days at secondary schools in the late 90s, I saw teachers assault students publically and never suffer any sanction. It’s not that people didn’t know that these things happened.

Today, the government still won’t come down on dragging children with special needs to a small room where they are locked inside as a way of dealing with problems like aggression on an on-going basis. In these places, parents, SNAs, teachers, principals and school inspectors come and go, often without remarking about the fact.

It’s one thing not to report something, it’s another thing entirely to just take such practices as a fact of life. As a moral issue, you can perhaps say that those who do not even recognise the problem are less culpable (a sin of ommission rather than commission so to speak) but for society, it is much more problematic if the watchmen fail to even recognise flagrant human rights abuses.

Liked by 1 person

11. CL - March 6, 2017

” the UN Committee on the elimination of discrimination against women (CEDAW) .. says the Commission of Investigation as established may not uncover all abuses inflicted on women and girls in these homes, the perpetrators of which should be “prosecuted and punished”….
“The committee therefore urges the State party to conduct prompt, independent and thorough investigations, in line with international human rights standards, into all allegations of abuse in Magdalene laundries, children’s institutions, Mother and Baby homes, and symphysiotomy in order to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of those involved in violations of women’s rights”.


12. Alibaba - March 7, 2017

When local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless, sought to legally source records from the site owner, Galway county council, she was refused. To keep her away, I imagine, they gave her records whose significance they didn’t get. Just imagine how difficult it is to get the church records. None to be given without permission. Even when this is granted, church archivists invariably find there is nothing to show blah, blah, blah and into the abyss it goes.

‘Under the Freedom of Information Act, Corless requested Galway county council’s records on the home from 1925 to 1961. She was refused.

But she was given documents from the 1970s, including an official map of the present-day estate the council built on the site.
“They obviously didn’t see the importance,” said Corless. “There is an area across the map marked ‘burial ground’,” she says. “First, the houses were built, around that area. Finally a playground was built on part of the burial ground itself.” ‘


“The names of almost 800 children who died in two of the country’s largest mother and baby homes were given to the HSE by a religious order in 2011. This revelation shows the State was aware of the vast number of deaths in Bessborough in Cork and Sean Ross Abbey Roscrea three years before the Tuam babies scandal made global headlines. … The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, which ran the homes, gave the registers to the HSE when it ceased operating its adoption service in 2011. They are now held by Tusla.”


Let the Magdalene survivors have their call too:


And another thing. Who is finding out the why and the how the deaths of these children happened? And what about the financial aspects of the businesses that were run; children sent to American and elsewhere for adoption and so on. Nobody is tasked for investigation of that as best as I can see.


Alibaba - March 7, 2017

‘Order of nuns behind Tuam home runs private hospital group. Group made €2.3 million profit in 2015 and paid €3 million rent to Bon Secours order’



13. CL - March 8, 2017

The brutalisation of these children was state policy for decades….
As vile as their treatment was in death, it is not the grotesque manner of these children’s burial that should cause so much upset. It is the fact that they died in such numbers, abandoned by a State that should have protected them.

Even now, there have been attempts by some in officialdom to rationalise their deaths as somehow normal, a sad reflection of higher child mortality rates at that era. These are more lies.

Research by reporter Conall Ó Fátharta has revealed that in one mother and baby home, Bessborough in Cork, the recorded death rate in 1944 was 82pc. This compares with a child mortality rate, for marital children, of 7pc at the time….
The common thread running through these cases is the inaction of the State when faced with serious cases of abuse, neglect and even unexplained deaths.

The first instinct of officials is self-preservation and damage limitation, not the protection of children. There is no accountability and no transparency. Nobody is ever even sacked….
At a basic level, the State should be able to house and protect the children who are born here. Regrettably, Ireland has been failing at this fundamental task for countless years.

In a functioning democracy, a government that so spectacularly failed to improve a homeless epidemic would be toppled, while those who abuse children would be held to account in the criminal courts.

Here, we express outrage and compile reports.

Liked by 1 person

Alibaba - March 8, 2017

Ah yes, so true:

“The fate of these children is a stark reminder that Ireland, despite all its outward expressions of piety, has never been a pro-life country. It is a pro-birth country, with the State’s interest in children’s welfare evaporating as soon as they are born.

The bodies being dug up in Tuam are not the only evidence of this. Until recently, the State didn’t know the number of children who had died in State care. Nobody had ever bothered counting them.”

What’s more, we were once told:

‘There is “no legal way” that 2002 deal granting religious congregations indemnity against child-abuse claims can be renegotiated, Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe said this evening.’

Not so. Where there is a will, there is a way; the deal can be dumped and those behind it held to account.



WorldbyStorm - March 8, 2017

That point about pro birth society is very true. Anyone with experience of miscarriage even in the contemporary era will know how anything that isn’t a supposed ‘norm’ is generally ignored and the impacts on those going through it marginalised.


ivorthorne - March 8, 2017

Ireland is very much a pro-birth country. FF and FG have, historically, liked to portray themselves as pro-life parties but in reality they had and have no problems with children living in poverty and deprivation.

I read an account of some of the founders of the pro-life movement in the US a few years ago. What they were proposing was radical by the standards of the US at the time with regard to the welfare state, healthcare and meeting people’s needs. Whatever you could say about their opposition to abortion availability, they positioned that opposition within a worldview that could be described as aspiring to be genuinely pro-life. It says a lot that while the anti-abortion side of that movement thrived, the post-birth care and support elements ended up confined to the dust bin.


14. CL - March 8, 2017

” The Magdalene Redress scheme was only set up after Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) went to the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) to make a case of State involvement with the Magdalene Laundries….
industrial and reformatory schools, Magdalene laundries, orphanages, special needs schools, and mother and baby homes are all interlinked and were the State’s response to welfare in Ireland for most of the 20th century….
by investigating these institutions separately, we are not getting the bigger picture, which is just how interconnected each were and how easy it was to become a life-long prisoner of the complex system of institutions, funded by the State and managed by the Catholic Church. Any future response from this Government (or the next), needs to acknowledge and deal with this, or else we will be faced with more inquiries.”

Liked by 1 person

15. sonofstan - March 8, 2017
GW - March 8, 2017

Now that is disgusting. That these people should still be facilitated by the Irish state.

Great timing Noonan.


sonofstan - March 8, 2017

What do you expect; it’s Noonan. When the state goes low, he goes lower.


16. CL - March 8, 2017

“We know too much about the Catholic church’s abuse of women and children to be shocked by Tuam. A mass grave full of the children of unmarried mothers is an embarrassing landmark when the state is still paying the church to run its schools and hospitals….
in our schools and hospitals – we’re still handing power over women and children’s lives to the Catholic church. Perhaps, after Tuam, after everything, that’s what’s really shocking.”


17. CL - March 8, 2017

“Eighteen children, mostly girls, mostly mentally handicapped, were starved to death…

2,051 children from state-run homes were used as medical guinea pigs for the pharma giant Burroughs Wellcome during the 1930s…
the Irish Catholic mother and child homes had an infant mortality rate of 68% in 1943”


18. CL - March 8, 2017

“During charged exchanges at Leaders’ Questions, Ms Connolly also asked why the site at Tuam had not been sealed off, as any crime scene would be….
The Taoiseach said… gardaí had a duty in relation to the site, and they would be contacted if the site was not sealed-off already.”


19. fergal - March 8, 2017

Micheal Martin on the Sean O Rourke radio show said that hospitals should be returned to the full state ownership, and he kind of (in a very ff way) suggested the same for schools.Is this a first for a leader of a mainstream party?
Of course, the game is up and there is absolutely nothing to be gained in 2017 by standing by the catholic church- expediency- it(s how the state is run, after all!


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