Tuam children’s home – salting the earth

article-2645870-1E1E699200000578-319_634x321The story of the home run by the Catholic sisters of the Bon Secours has hit the UK press after a resulting Irish media storm.

It has predictably whipped up anti-Catholic outrage and sentiment amongst the small clique of Irish secularists who seem to inhabit Twitter, lurking to pounce on anyone who dares to say anything less than condemnatory about the Catholic Church in Ireland. It’s difficult to tell how representative they are of wider public opinion, but nonetheless the story and the victims deserve a response.

The UK Daily Mail handles the story in an uncharacteristically balanced fashion, noting that these types of homes were prevalent throughout Ireland and run by both the Catholic and Protestant Church.

The existence of a mass grave is tragic – it is saddening that children were buried in this fashion, without any sort of memorial and no burial records, however the claims that they were unceremoniously dumped into a septic tank full of sewage will almost certainly be false. The bodies which were found by two boys playing in the 1970s were interred in a concrete tank. The septic tank referred to had been attached to the building when it was a former workhouse, and was decommissioned by the time the sisters took over the building to run as a home in 1926.

Little is known about the size of the tank, nor has it been confirmed how many bodies are contained therein. The first task must surely be to secure the site and carry out forensic analysis. The boys who discovered the grave describe it ‘full to the brim with bones’ after breaking through concrete slabs, but that does not confirm numbers of bodies. It’s interesting that back in 1975, no further investigation was thought necessary, the site was apparently blessed by a priest before being resealed.

Local historian Catherine Corless has discovered the records of 796 babies and children who died at the home, but it isn’t clear whether or not they are all contained within the grave. The first thing must be to establish numbers and ages of those who were interred and a respectful re-internmnet and memorial must be erected. This is already in progress. The sisters of the Bon Secours have already requested an urgent meeting with the Archbishop of Tuam to discuss how best to honour all those in the home. This is an important first step.

One inconsistency is that according to an advert placed in a local paper, the Connacht Tribune in 1932, the Home was tendering for coffins. This would seem to be inconsistent with a policy that sought to expediently dispose of bodies in an undignified fashion.

The logistics of tossing corpses into a septic tank should also be thought about. How likely is it that they would have had a permanently open space or pit in which to to place bodies. Surely the existence of this would have been noted somewhere along with resulting hygiene concerns?

Archives from 1937 call for “the removal of the cesspool at the back of the home” as the smell was intolerable. In 1938 the MO and Matron of the home pleaded for a new disinfecting chamber and laundry and six months later sent a letter to the Committee asking if anything could be done to speed up the process. The idea of a permanently open grave doesn’t seem to tally with the other stated concerns. One also has to wonder about how the bodies were placed into a sealed septic tank via narrow pipes. Did the nuns return regularly to a pit full of decayed macerated corpses without commenting on it anywhere?

The Connacht Tribune records that Tuam Sewerage Scheme was to be extended to the Children’s Home in 1928. Is it possible that during this period existing graves were exhumed and the bodies reinterred. The boys’ description of a pit with a brimful of bones suggest that the bones could at least have been adult, it is unlikely that babies’ bones buried in shrouds would have been visible 20, 30, or 40 years later. The grave was  explained as belonging to famine victims  – presumably this belief would have had some basis? Prior to being a home for married mothers, the building was a workhouse for famine victims.

What we do know is that often bodies were exhumed during the road building process in Ireland and not reinterred in a respectful fashion, even being dumped in drains in some instances. It is feasible that the children were buried correctly, even on consecrated ground and then later moved during a redevelopment of the site. This is why decent forensics is vital.

Another piece of the outrage stems from the widespread practice of burying babies in unconsecrated ground. These days this no longer happens, but the belief in limbo was still prevalent in mid twentieth-century Ireland. I remember being shocked as a child when my mother pointed to an area on the edges of the churchyard in Ashburton which is where she said, her baby brother born in 1946 was buried, away from the graves of his grandparents right in the centre of the church. She related how the monks from neighbouring Buckfast Abbey came out to conduct the service, (they did not have a graveyard at this time), but that he died before they had a chance to baptise him. This may seem cruel, but it was the norm. That’s not to say that no rites were carried out. In any event limbo is not an abhorrent concept which has been revamped in a PR exercise. The truth is that we do not know what happens to the souls of the babies, but we trust in God’s mercy, knowing that He is good. Limbo taught that as innocents, the souls of the babies would enjoy happiness, only not the perfect happiness of the beatific vision.

The practice of burying babies in unconsecrated ground has long since been revised, however it’s telling that no such outrage is expressed by these pro-choice secularists with regards to the appalling treatment of foetal remains by hospitals and abortion clinics who  were happy to incinerate them for energy with surgical waste.

The death rates from neglect, malnutrition and preventable diseases easily treated with antibiotics are undoubtedly shocking. No-one seeks to excuse them. With that in mind, the death rates in Tuam seem to be consistent with the death rates of illegitimate children throughout Ireland as a whole, which were 3 or 4 times that of legitimate children and double the death rates of illegitimate children in England and Wales.

Ireland was in the grip of poverty, as  Anglo-Irish Catholic tweep @dillydillys has pointed out, rural Irish society was ruthless compared with our comfortable armchair perspective. Life was tough during the lean years of the economic wars between Britain and the Free State.

Clare Mulvany, an Irish colleague in Catholic Voices tells of how her uncle died aged 18 months from a simple skin infection easily treatable with antibiotics who was hastily buried the next morning. It’s how life operated. Antibiotics were not easily available or accessed and bodies would be buried swiftly.

There are many allegations of children being deliberately starved and maltreated – where this happened this is abhorrent and should be condemned. The calls for an inquiry and a Garda investigation are correct, if belated. This should have happened back in the ‘70s or even in February 2013 when the story began to emerge in the press. Also there are reports of Catherine Corless meeting with the film-makers behind Philomena last year, Why did this story take so long to air?

In direct contravention of allegations of ‘dying rooms’ and deliberate starvation, a Tuam Herald report in 1949 on the Inspection of the home, says that “they found everything in very good order and congratulated the sisters on the excellent conditions in their Institution”. An earlier Board of Health report in 1935, says that “Tuam is one of the best managed institutions in the country”.  In 1944, the Matron requested that all occupants were immunised against Diphtheria.It was also recommended that vaccines for whooping cough were supplied.  Is this indicative of an uncaring attitude? In 1950 a programme of improvements to the building was proposed to the Committee however these were never carried out due to costs. The home finally closed due to dilapidation in 1961 after the £90,000 proposed extension was instead used to carry out improvements on the nursing home run by the sisters.

children-at-the-home-in-tuam-co-galway

In a revealing exchange in 1961, it was claimed that those in charge of the home had not been paid for extra work done and that some of the most capable nuns had been moved. It was admitted that the conduct of the home had been unsatisfactory for quite some time. The conditions were attributed to a shortage of ‘trained staff, unsuitable buildings and other factors’.

The Archbishop of Dublin is quite correct to call for a social history project to be run in parallel to any inquiry in order that an accurate picture of life in the homes can be established.

This is not to deny abuses or shocking treatment, but to point the blame solely at the church alone is too simple.

Reports from 1929 show that a special maternity ward for the unmarried mothers was added to the Home in Tuam. The reason for this is that married women and paying customers at the local district hospital in Connacht were unwilling to share their hospital facilities with the ‘misfortunates’. They wanted segregation. This proposal was opposed by a priest, Canon Ryder who wanted to find accommodation for these mothers in other hospitals.

This moving of the mothers to a separate institution lacking trained staff and facilities would have undoubtedly contributed to infant and maternal mortality rates.

Society and state wanted these women to disappear and colluded with the Church who were willing to provide institutions. A sanctioned burning of library books portraying unmarried mothers in a positive light took place in Galway in 1928. A ratepayers meeting in  Portumna said that no additional burden should be placed upon married parents who already had enough to do with the raising on their own children and that the state must step in to act. In a direct contravention of the Catholic principles said to be influencing attitudes towards unmarried mothers, it was deemed unreasonable to expect married families to pitch in and help. In 1926, the annual cost of £26 for each year to raise each infant was deemed unacceptably high. The Board of Health was told to provide for them at the least possible expense and therefore the charity of the Sisters was extremely convenient.

Fr Owen Sweeney, Chaplain to London’s Irish centre noted in a meeting in Galway in 1964, that “facilities were so much better in Ireland (than England) for the unmarried mother and her child”.

But before condemning the Church alone, we should also ask questions of a society that was happy to wave goodbye to unmarried mothers and who wanted them hidden. The concerns and stigma were driven as much by cost as anything that the Church taught on this matter. Every single Western culture stigmatised single mothers prior to the advent of the contraceptive pill.

I am glad that such attitudes have changed. I mentioned in previous posts that my grandmother was illegitimate. She was born in 1913 and one of the lucky ones, but the stigma blighted her childhood and affected her right up until her death at the age of 99. My family has experienced what this does to a person. My mother was never able to learn the identity of her own grandparents until her mother died last year.

For every mother sent to an institution there was a society unwilling to accept them into their community and to stand up for their basic dignity. There was a documented unwillingness to rely on their testimony regarding the paternity of their children or to hold the men to account.

To blame the refusal to share precious resources with those who were deemed to be morally deficient on account of their straightened circumstances, on Christian doctrine, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel message. The Catholic church may be complicit in that the institutions may well have mistreated those in their care, but that surely needs to be attributed to the individuals who worked there, some of whom had discovered a vocation was a convenient solution to their own poverty. Nowhere does the Catechism ever condone unjust treatment of the poor and Christ reserves some of his strongest words for those who mistreat children. One wonders how much of this pointing the finger of the blame at the Church is a projection of personal guilt – the children from the home were forced to sit apart from and bullied by their legitimate peers as Catherine Corless relates.

But we are fooling ourselves if we believe that we are living in a more enlightened age or seek to blame such stigma on religious doctrine. The demonisation of those on welfare and benefits due to the media coverage of families such as those belonging to White Dee has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with human nature.

We display exactly the same attitude in terms of marginalising vulnerable children and wishing for an expensive embarrassing problem to be quietly dealt with every time we stay silent or sanction an abortion, whether that’s of a child from a socially disadvantaged or financially struggling parent or one who has disabilities.

Last week Archbishop “Charlie” Brown described the green shots of the Irish Catholic Spring following 20 years of winter.  Ireland’s wounds are beginning to heal, helped by the enthusiasm of the young and the appointment of Marie Collins to the newly established Pontifical Commission to the Protection of children.

With the green shoots and buds of Spring emerging no wonder then, that there are those waiting and willing to use opportunistically whatever they can, in this case the tragic deaths and apparent insensitive disposal of childrens’ remains, to scorch then salt the earth. Justice can only be served by truth. The victims deserve nothing less.

childrens_home_nursery

With thanks to Twitter user @limerick1914 who has provided a fascinating compilation of the archives.

Update:

This post is not intended as either a defence of anything untoward which may have happened in the Toam home. It is simply applying a reasonable standard of criticism to hyperbolic narratives flying about the internet, based on publicly available sources.

The facts as we have them so far are these: there are records of 797 children dying over a 40 year period at The Home in Toam. Some bodies are known to exist in the site of a former water tank. We know the site was formerly a workhouse for famine victims. It is reasonable to request more evidence, be that forensic or some sort of archeological records in terms of work completed on the site which now contains part of a building site.

For those concerned with the fate of the deceased, a far more constructive step than venting online would be to donate to the St Jarlath’s Credit Union account set up for the purpose of receiving donations to the memorial fund which is one of the reasons why Catherine Corless broke her story. Incidentally she does not seek to lay the blame at the door of the Catholic Church – her reflections being far more nuanced. 

129 thoughts on “Tuam children’s home – salting the earth

      1. Remarkable.

        Catherine Corless writes a reasonable piece of investigation, which makes clear that it was the State and County Council that was responsible for policy, for the building and for paying for the services. She seeks to raise funds for a memorial to the children whose deaths (a word of caution – what was the wording used?) were recorded, and the commenters go off on rants that do nothing more than reveal their ignorance and lack of attention span.

        For that is what bigotry is – ignorance.

        I wondered if it was me, if I had misunderstood something, so I read it again.

        No, it wasn’t me, I am happy to confirm.

    1. Thanks for the link, Mark. I notice the author says, quite early on, that

      “My contacts with officialdom on this scandal suggest that many still feel there is little or no evidence to support the claims the Bon Secours nuns buried 796 infants and children in a disused septic tank.”

      However, such a little thing as almost total absence of evidence isn’t going to stop the likes of him continuing in full cry on a case of ‘church abuse’, whether or not it exists, is it?

      1. “However, such a little thing as almost total absence of evidence isn’t going to stop the likes of him continuing in full cry on a case of ‘church abuse’, whether or not it exists, is it? ”

        Exactly

  1. “This is not to deny abuses or shocking treatment, but to point the blame solely at the church alone is too simple”

    Though of course if the church had not chosen to encourage the condemnation and ostracism of these innocent unmarried mothers and their children they’d never have been near such ‘homes’ in the first place.

    1. Did the church encourage this, or was it more the case that the church’s doctrine on human sexuality was distorted?

      What about the Church’s very strong teaching on widows and orphans? That seems to have been wholly disregarded.

      1. Also, the Church and the state in Ireland at that time were practially indistinguishable. Societal pressure, driven by the Irish Catholic Church at that time, plus the terrible poverty prevalent in Ireland are the problem. However, the Church is supposed to do better, regardless. The Church isn’t supposed to cave to the societal norms of the times.

      2. Just to be clear, and to answer your question, yes, the church encouraged this. Glad to be of service.

      3. I’m not that old but I remember the vile treatment that adopted children got at school from teaching nuns.

        The degrading treatment and verbal abuse in front of everyone else, about how they were nothing, didn’t even know who their father was. This was the norm, in the eyes of the church in Ireland to be an illegitimate child or a single mother was worse that you could be.

        When I look back now it strikes me how similar it all what to the Taliban.

        I’m not anti Church, I don’t know why i’m not, suppose I’ve met some wonderful priests and nuns who were spiritual and wonderful people for their communities. There were as many, and more so the higher up that were deranged and very evil people.

        This is not just one incident, it is replicated in location after location, the bodies might not be in a tank but they died all the same. Just one example of this is the Letterfrack Institute up the road from this. One in 20 of the boys who went there died in it, an incredible rate. The rest were subjected to a regime of physical, emotional and sexual abuse that is impossible to comprehend. All proven and admitted to by the Brothers there.

        There are a lot of Christians in the pews but there are not so many in the Church. Haven’t been for a long time, it was a good paying job with status when there were little choices.

    2. That is not true. Sex with someone to whom one is not married is and always has been wrong, and causes much harm, especially to children. The truth does not change. And the Church is all of us who are members.

      1. And the church heaped on that harm by mishandling the children and the women.

        So the church teaches that unmarried sex is wrong. If a woman gives birth outside wedlock she was treated as dirt, and her offspring as less than dirt – thus the chirch made sure to fulfill its own standard – that sex outside marriage was harmful.

        I have no illusions that the church is interested in the well being of people, at best it is interested in people living up to the rules of the church.

        the proof is clear in cases like the one discussed here – careless disregard for the well being of the innocents in their care, or in the other horror stories just from Ireland where “wayward” women were kept as slaves for years, forced to do hard labor, and subjected to torture. All in Catholic institutions.

        By their fruits ye shall know them

      2. Lynda, some of us are members and do not want to be but we have no choice as the church does not offer an option for us to untie ourselves. I would prefer to live in a cesspit than to be aligned with anyone as small minded, miserable and bitter as yourself. Who do you think you are to judge the large population of this country who are not married, live happily and have children. Get back to the dark ages where you belong.

      3. Apologies I approved this comment on the go and am unable to delete it on my app.

        Orla – please refrain from personal attacks, they will not be tolerated.

        Lynda, my sincerest apologies for any distress caused by my hasty approval.

  2. Hi, Caroline

    I have posted two comments on your blog in the last several weeks – both of them in the last half-hour. After each one a message has appeared, saying “you are commenting too fast. Slow down”. May I underline the fact that I was told this after seeking to post my first reply – the first for several weeks.

    Do you have a problem with the WordPress application? Or am I on a watch list or something??

    Best wishes

    Ruari

    1. Hi Ruari – I think there has been a problem with the blog. I edited out your personal details from the last two comments, for obvious reasons.

      I know other people have experienced difficulty, but no idea how to fix it!

  3. FYI, My comments were both replies to Mark Dennehy. The first was:

    Thanks for the link, Mark. I notice the author says, quite early on, that

    “My contacts with officialdom on this scandal suggest that many still feel there is little or no evidence to support the claims the Bon Secours nuns buried 796 infants and children in a disused septic tank.”

    However, such a little thing as almost total absence of evidence isn’t going to stop the likes of him continuing in full cry on a case of ‘church abuse’, whether or not it exists, is it?

    The second is:

    Remarkable.

    Catherine Corless writes a reasonable piece of investigation, which makes clear that it was the State and County Council that was responsible for policy, for the building and for paying for the services. She seeks to raise funds for a memorial to the children whose deaths (a word of caution – what was the wording used?) were recorded, and the commenters go off on rants that do nothing more than reveal their ignorance and lack of attention span.

    For that is what bigotry is – ignorance.

    I wondered if it was me, if I had misunderstood something, so I read it again.

    No, it wasn’t me, I am happy to confirm.

    Just in case I am prevented from posting.

  4. My mother and her siblings were raised by sisters, and brothers for the boys. Her mother died (from TB) shortly after giving birth to her and the state forceably siezed the children from her father as was the custom in Ireland at the time according to the Restitution Board records I have seen.

    Only the Church was willing to look after such children and others deemed to be similarly misfortunate.

    The Church certainly failed, and failed badly, in the care of these women and children however to point the blame only at the Church when the whole of Irish society was turned against the women and children is wrong. To claim the society was that way because of the Church is nonsense. That society was suffering widespread and extreme poverty, broken families resulting from wars, alcohol abuse related problems and a host of other factors that contributed to a merciless approach to these women and children (and to the men who were left trying to cope after the death of their wife as was the case for my grandfather).

    1. The Church used single out these children in School and in Public as unclean and immoral. Whatever society learn about hating these people it was very much driven by the Church.

      Long after the poverty was gone from mainstream Ireland the attitude of the Church was to damn these children in public.

      The control and the anger from the Church pulpit was incredible, the roaring and screaming that we were all sinners going to burn in hell, week in and week out. You have no idea what they were like. Lot of the Nuns were even worse, angry women, bitter and obsessed with taking it out on others. If you weren’t from money you were absolutely nothing. To be an adopted child was to be the lowest and a target for abuse.

      Mother Church in Ireland up to the 80’s was overall not a nice or caring institution. It was angry and controlling and it loved money above all else. There are many priests etc that were and are not like this but as an institution….

      1. You are speaking of sinful priests or religious who were not following the Commandments of Our Lord and the unchanging teaching of His Holy Church. There has been a terrible apostasy among priests and religious since the 1960s. If one has turned one’s back on the Faith, on God, one is not going to bring others to the Faith. Holy people bring others to God.

      2. “There has been a terrible apostasy among priests and religious since the 1960s.”

        We’re talking about a period from around the 1920s to the 1960s. Well done for managing to blame the actions on nuns on that period on post Vatican 2 priests.

  5. With regard to this story and similar “scandals” that are blamed on the Church, we work with some African Sisters and when the scandals about Magdalene Homes and about “forced” adoptions or at least pressure to give children up for adoption in Catholic homes surfaced, I spoke to them about their work running Mother and Baby Homes in Africa. Because, to this day, the majority of unmarried mums in their homes will give their children up for adoption. I asked specifically how free the women are to chose to keep their babies or to give them up for adoption. They told me that from the Sisters end of things the women are totally free to choose either, but they added that very few women choose to keep their babies, because their families will not allow them to come home if they do so. If they kept their child they would have no home, no job, no support, and no husband in the future. The Sisters say that in a few cases the family does accept the girl home with her child and they are more than happy to help them return home with their children. No doubt in a few years time revisionist historians, feminists and gutter journalists will re-write the history of their society to and the Sisters will become the agents of satan who forced these women to give their babies up. But in reality, it is actually the lay people, as well as the traditional culture of their society that views the so-called “illegitimate” child as scandalous and a source of disgrace. These same sisters work with us in the UK to help unmarried women keep and raise their children. And like us, they believe that these children are not “illegitimate” to God – He is a Father to all of them! So I do not see how they can be responsible for what their society causes young unmarried women to do. We need to pray for those who use misinformation like this “septic tank” story as a stick to beat the Church with. These lies get round the world before the truth has put it’s shoes on.

    1. In a piece of profoundly ignorant and calumnising filth, the Belfast Telegraph stated that ” In keeping with Catholic teaching, such out-of-wedlock children were denied baptism and, if they died at such facilities, Christian burial.”
      This has (within the last few minutes), been removed and replaced by a more innocuous statement, but is referred to in a comment by “Croker” below.

      1. I’m a catholic, many of the unwed mothers and children that died in these institutions were buried in unconsecrated ground. It is not that long ago that priests here refused to baptize children in unwed relationships.

        Many of the children in this institution were actually sold off to American Catholic orphanages.

        There are a lot of Catholics still in Ireland, only a few of them would disagree with the idea that the Church loves money above all else.

      2. This is typical of the constant lies told about the Church (which includes me) by a hate-filled atheistic, relativist lobby that control the Media, etc. All babies are to be baptised as soon as possible after birth except where the parents do not intend to raise the child in the Faith.

      3. actually, that part is true. it’s not really about the catholic teaching, but about the practice in Ireland at the time. The reason the babies couldn’t be buried on consecrated grounds is b/c they weren’t baptized, and the reason they weren’t baptized is b/c they were born to out-of-wedlock mothers.

        Here, as of 2012, priests in Argentina refused to baptize the children of out-of-wedlock mothers. Why then would it be so hard to fathom that the practice was more widespread in Ireland 50 years ago?

        Let’s try to stop just making up facts.

      4. I agree Vic – a good idea to stop making up facts. There is nothing to suggest that children of extramarital unions were routinely refused baptism in Ireland, but plenty of accounts of them receiving First Holy Communion.

      5. Thanks for the link, Vic.

        You will have noticed from this four-year-old report the name of the bishop who is publicly rebuking priests who engage in such sanctimonious behaviour? It’s the current Pope.

        He makes quite clear that such practices are not the teaching of the Catholic Church.

        Ruari McCallion

        Sent from my iPad

        >

    1. Talking of falsified birth certificates SL – are you cool with falsifying the facts on birth certificates in the case of a child born from a donor embryo carried to term in the womb of a surrogate, and then passed off as the progeny of two men?

      And coming soon, to our brave new world – the embryo containing genetic material from more than one donor. How do we make an accurate birth certificate for that unfortunate?

      1. Excellent reply Dilly! obviously many people still don’t have children interest in mind even if they think they do! It is so easy to point the finger at the Church, and not look at our own problems!

      2. No, I’m not “cool” with that at all, nor have I ever promoted such a thing.

        I’m referencing the thousands of children taken from their mothers by the Catholic Church in Spain and sold to wealthy couples after the birth certificates were changed. Many of the mothers of those children were told their children died in childbirth.

        Don’t deflect by bringing up something that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Why would you defend evil? What’s wrong with you?

    2. No I’m not denying anything. Just suggesting that to some extent those in the Church reflect the attitudes of their society, they don’t always create them – even the harsh, moralistic attitudes don’t always come from the Church (in the case of Africa this is certainly true, because traditional African morality is much stricter about women’s purity for example, than the Church is). I do think in this particular case there is a lot we don’t know yet as Caroline has pointed out. And I am tired of people (perhaps like your good self SL) who don’t seem to read the follow ups to these scandalous attacks in the media, such as the McAleese report into the Magdalene homes, which found ):

      i. Sexual abuse
      31. One woman told the Committee that she was subjected to sexual abuse by an auxiliary during her time in a Magdalen Laundry. She was not aware of this happening to anyone else. Auxiliaries, referred to variously as “consecrates” or “magdalenes”, were women who, having entered a Magdalen Laundry, decided to remain there for life.
      32. No other women in contact with the Committee made any allegation of sexual abuse during their time in the Magdalen Laundries. However a significant number told the Committee that they had suffered sexual abuse in the family home or in other institutions, either before or after their time in the Magdalen Laundries.

      ii. Physical abuse
      33. A large majority of the women who shared their stories with the Committee said that they had neither experienced nor seen other girls or women suffer physical abuse in the Magdalen Laundries.
      34. In this regard, women who had in their earlier lives been in an industrial or reformatory school drew a clear distinction between their experiences there and in the Magdalen Laundries, stating clearly that the widespread brutality which they had witnessed and been subjected to in industrial and reformatory schools was not a feature of the Magdalen Laundries.

      But hey, lets not let the facts stop us battering the Church into the dust.

  6. Bringing up abortion is always the way isn’t it, to defend the indefensible. The Church created the atmosphere that led to unwed mothers being treated like garbage by the society in which they lived and then by the Church itself. This issue has nothing to do with the abortion issue and it will not be dismissed so easily.

    1. The Catholic Church stands against the institutionalized murder of the unborn. People try to argue that it has no credibility to do so because of horrible failures (such as this one) in its sacred mission of caring for the weak and unfortunate. Some posters whose comments I’ve read on this issue have actually argued that if only these children had been aborted none of this would have happened. Abortion is how secular society deals with unwanted children. So yes, it’s very relevant. Is it better to try to set up institutions to care for unwanted children–institutions that then often become corrupt and callous–or to scrub them out before birth so that they don’t mess up our shiny brave new world?

    1. I think you have it precisely backwards. Babies and bonding are natural results of sexual intercourse, yet it is the Pelvic Left which advocates for abortion and for multiple sexual partners. The results of such advocacy have been bloody, deadly and otherwise painful. I am reminded that Hugh Hefner said he is most proud of his advocacy for abortion. It is not the Catholic Church arguing or asserting that you must impair sexual fertility, which is very much part of sex, even if not in every instance of intercourse.

      Further, many non-Catholic, indeed, non-Christian cultures stigmatize non-marital sex.

  7. It’s doing it again – “posting too quickly”

    This is in reply to bloggingfromthebog, June 5, 4.46am.

    If it was the Roman Catholic Church that “…created the atmosphere…” how do you explain pretty much exactly the same social and societal attitude in England and Wales, where the Catholic Church was banned over 400 years previously, its followers were not allowed to hold public office and whose influence was deliberately suppressed and where Catholics are still forbidden from being Head of State.

    btw – if anything, the societal disapproval was even worse in Scotland, which had a reputation for being somewhat anti-Catholic. Other countries had much the same attitude as well – including the Soviet Union.

    Some may wish it was otherwise and that the Catholic Church bore all responsibility; that would be convenient but it is not the case, even in Ireland.

    Ruari McCallion

  8. Reply to “Irish Lad”:

    Well, I went to both ordinary secular State and to Catholic schools in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The village where I grew up (in England) had a huge National Children’s Home on the outskirts – so, a long way from being Catholic-dominated, I am sure you will agree.

    Humiliation of those deemed inadequate by teachers or other figures in authority was commonplace. One Mrs Hall at the junior school used fear, contempt and humiliation as a daily weapon and she was most definitely not a nun. Luckily, she retired before I got to her class but I had already been through the gentle ministrations (NB: sarcasm!) of a woman who acted as if she was her apprentice or something. The kids from the NCH were generally given something of a wide berth by the ‘ordinary’ families. Illegitimacy was a serious condition; being ‘in the family way’ without being married was regarded as shameful and indicative of poor upbringing.

    It was also extremely difficult economically; who would look after the mother? Who would pay her rent, feed her and clothe the child? “Her family”, quite possibly, but if they were already poor, how were they to cope?

    That was the way it was; that was the common wisdom. It wasn’t about brainwashing by the Catholic Church; it was driven by the reality of everyday life. In a country without a blanket welfare system, economic disaster lurked round every corner. And those who were most ‘morally disapproving’ were the Working Class. Why? Because they were closest to disaster; they had most to lose. The rich can afford the self-indulgence of dissolute behaviour; the poor cannot.

    Believe it or not, the ordinary people worked that stuff out and reached those attitudes, generally, on their own. Indeed, it was more likely to be the Church (or churches, to be fair) that softened people’s inclinations towards condemnation.

  9. Reply to “Trying to wriggle out of it > Butterflies and Wheels” June 4 6.21pm

    Last night, Olivia Benson’s column had more than 20 comments, including a few from me. Today, the discussion has been trimmed to a more manageable 10, most of which give sycophancy a bad name.

    I’m sure we can all draw our own conclusions.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  10. Sensible comment on a story which will inevitably be sensationalised with little interest in the facts- like how old the bones are. I’d already wondered in view of the ‘mass grave’ whether the place had been a workhouse. On the subject of mass graves, my grandmother (b.1899) and her sisters remembered daring each other to run across the planks covering the common paupers’ grave in the local cemetery- this was in England. People saw things quite differently a century ago.

  11. This ” small clique of Irish secularists “, which you pour vitriolic opprobrium upon has never snatched children from their kith and kin, enslaved children, physically tortured children, sexually tortured children, ensured that mothers of children born outside of Catholic wedlock were ostracised … but then you are defending an organisation whose pre-occupations were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the Church’s reputation and the preservation of its assets – other considerations including the welfare and protection of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities.

    1. “This ” small clique of Irish secularists “, which you pour vitriolic opprobrium upon has never snatched children from their kith and kin, enslaved children, physically tortured children, sexually tortured children…(etc)”

      Are you sure about that?

      Two factors to bear in mind. One, Tuam was owned and funded by the County Council. Supervised by them? One has to hope so. Would it not be dreadful if the secular authorities had abrogated their responsibilities entirely?

      Second, looking a little way outside of Ireland, have you ever heard of Bryn Estyn? You really should have a look at that. You’ll be shocked – I sincerely hope you will be, anyway. At the very least, at the fact that these were state-run, secular homes that pimped out children for years.

      You could take a moment to out Haute la Garenne as well, of course. And the current state of the care regime and its manifest failures in England and Wales (the area I am more familiar with).

      1. (1) The county council was not a secular body practically or legally. Read your copy of the constitution from that time period.
        (2) Why not look further and compare the home to the gangs shooting children in Rio or the child soldier armies in sub-saharan africa while you’re at it?

      2. Mark, you’re exposing your confusion. Best go back to your info sources and check again.

        while we know that various scientists around the world were seeking cures for disease – “magic bullets”, if you will pardon the phrase – most were going down very different routes from that which turned out to be penicillin. Paradoxically, the success of arsphenamine in treating a specific nerve generation caused by syphilis and sleeping sickness organisms turned out to be something of a distraction.

        As I said, review your information.

      3. @ Ruari Yes Ruari, I am sure. Around 170,000 children were incarcerated in institutions wholly owned and managed by Roman Catholic Religious Orders under the supervision of Religious Superiors & bishops. The Child Abuse Commission, which published the Ryan Report – some of the findings:

        A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from.

        There was little variation in the use of physical beating from region to region, from decade to decade, or from Congregation to Congregation.

        Corporal punishment in girls’ schools was pervasive, severe, arbitrary and unpredictable and this led to a climate of fear amongst the children.

        [Named Institution] used frequent and severe punishment to impose and enforce a regime of militaristic discipline. The policy of the School was rigid control by means of severe corporal punishment and fear of punishment. Such punishment was excessive and pervasive. The result of arbitrary and uncontrolled punishment was a climate of fear. All Brothers became implicated because they did not intervene or report excesses.

        Incidences of abuse were managed primarily with a view to protecting the Congregation and the Institution from the harm that would be done if sexual abuse by Brothers became public. This involved suppression of disclosure of abuse, failure to investigate properly and failure to report. The policy facilitated further abuse when offenders were transferred within the Congregation or permitted to leave in good standing.

        [Named Institution] had sufficient income to provide for the boys’ physical needs but it failed to do so in many respects: Accommodation was generally poor. Facilities for preparing and serving food for the boys were primitive. Clothing was poor, patched and institutional, and the repeated criticism by the Department Inspector was to no avail, in spite of a healthy surplus in the School accounts.

        – – – – – – – –
        Why are you pointing elsewhere Ruari? Is this the new defence for apologists?

    1. She’s not defending what happened : “This post is not intended as either a defence of anything untoward which may have happened in the Toam home. It is simply applying a reasonable standard of criticism to hyperbolic narratives flying about the internet, based on publicly available sources.”

      1. The Ryan Report or the Murphy Report are not a ‘hyperbolic’ narratives – and despite these two devastating Reports being publicly available you appear not to have read them Gregory!

      2. @theraggedwagon. I’m confused. what does this have to do Caroline Farrow’s personal blog update?

  12. Penicillin wasn’t available to the public until after World War II. So deaths from infections prior to that were quite common.

  13. I am Irish-American with numerous relatives still in Ireland, and I was brought up in a strictly traditionalist Catholic home. But I was lucky enough to grow up in America, where I received an excellent education in public schools and learned to think for myself. That’s why I am completely dumbfounded at the lengths you have gone to in the defense of that which is indefensible.

    Catherine Corless has clearly established that nearly 800 children died at the Tuam home from 1925 through 1961–a mortality rate, incidentally, which far exceeds even the high rates prevailing among the general population of Ireland at the time. And we know that most weren’t “stillborn,” as you try to suggest, because the death records give their ages. I heard Corless reciting from the list on a radio program, and I heard plenty of ages such as 6 months, 11 months, 3 years and even 9 years old. Try a different excuse.

    But what I find most incredible is that you are still trying to defend this sick, cruel institution after all the impeccably documented revelations about what happened at Ariane, Letterfrack, Goldenbridge, and on and on. Children raped, beaten with the cat o’ nine tails for the sin of running away, fed a starvation diet when the schools made a profit selling their produce, made to relieve themselves in buckets every day because the school refused to spend the money to install modern plumbing. And these conditions were not secret: government inspectors noted them in reports for decades, and some even angrily demanded action, but nothing ever changed. Any society that treats children like that is perfectly capable of letting illegitimate babies die of neglect and then dumping them down a sewer.

    I have no sympathy with the lame excuses that “it was a different time,” and “We are all to blame. Yes, Ireland is to blame for handing the Church the keys to the kingdom. But the Church is even more to blame, because they could have treated those poor children with decency and humanity, and they refused to.

    You will surely say that America has its own problems with abuse of children by institutions, and we do, but that actually proves my point. Many institutions have been implicated here, but the Catholic Church, once again, seems to have the worst and most systemic problems, as well as strong evidence that there was an organized cover-up orchestrated by Rome. America was far ahead of Ireland in wealth, opportunity and political maturity during the time when our abuses happened, so we don’t have the “poor, backward country” excuse that Ireland often cites–but we did have the Church, and that was enough to replicate the problem here.

    How can you believe this stuff anymore?

    1. Harriet – you should read more carefully and more deeply. Ms Corless has stated that she is continuing her investigations.

      First. The death rate. This was indeed higher than the population as a whole – but you tend to find that in medical facilities, and Tuam also functioned as a hospital, particularly maternity (surprise!) and for the poor. Before the advent of penicillin, childbirth was much more hazardous for both mother and baby than it is today. If, with all the medical advances over the past 90 years, a woman can die of sepsis in a modern hospital – as happened last year – then how much worse was it likely to be back in the 20s, 30s and 40s?

      My own local hospital, even today, has a death rate higher than the surrounding countryside. That’s probably because the place is just full of sick people – absolutely stuffed with them. They even take the injured victims of road traffic accidents there – and do you know what? The death rate among road traffic accident victims taken to hospital is vastly higher than those who just go home.

      The death rate was not, in fact, that much different than similar institutions in other countries – including Scotland and Northern Ireland, which at least had the benefit of reasonably advanced plumbing and were not struggling to emerge from grinding poverty and the fallout from a vicious Civil War.

      Tuam was owned and funded by the local County Council, I trust you noticed. It was a State responsibility. The State demonstrated its commitment to the people within the walls of this establishment by the funds it provided to pay the local doctors for their visits. Not very much.

      1. Red herring alert!

        What is the connection between Bessborough and Tuam? As far as I am aware, they’re not in the same county. (btw – single sources can be interesting but should not be accepted as…ahem…gospel unless and until corroborated).

      2. I am a doctor, so I know all about mortality rates. Thanks for your brilliant observation that sick people are more likely to die than healthy ones, but that is completely meaningless (as I’m sure you realize). The only meaningful comparison is between the death rates of people who are generally comparable in most respects except one: for example, death rates from TB in Tuam vs Leitrim, or death rates from pneumonia in Dublin in 1960 vs 1920. Or infant and child mortality rates in the Tuam home vs Ireland as a whole in the same time period. As I mentioned in my remarks, Ireland had a remarkably high infant mortality rate at the time, about 15%, but the statistics I have seen suggest that the mortality rates in Tuam and the other homes were about 3 to 5 times that, at least in the 1940s and 1950s. Those gigantic discrepancies cannot be explained away, and they strongly suggest that the conditions the children lived in were grossly substandard (which we know they were, from the reports of doctors who visited the facilities). And we should keep in mind that these places were not hospitals taking in seriously ill patients–they were supposed to be “residencies” for young, healthy women.

        Please don’t insult my intelligence by pointing out that facilities in England and Scotland were equally horrible–that just shows how little all these countries (which share a very similar culture) valued their young. Tell me how they compare to more civilized parts of the world like France, Holland, Switzerland and Scandinavia. I will say this, though: If you have read Brendan Behan, you know that even the English started to clean up their system long before the Irish did. The conditions in Borstal–which was a PRISM system for young offenders–sound much better than what these poor women and their babies had to deal with. Perhaps they should have just arrested all of them and sent them to England.

        You are correct that “research is continuing” on the Tuam home, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty damning already. 800 children died at the home, and there are absolutely no records of any of them being buried in cemeteries in Tuam or surrounding areas. If they are not in that tank, what happened to their bodies? Binned with the trash, perhaps?

  14. Have to point out once again, Mark Dennehy; antibiotics were not available until the latter part of the 1940s, even in a reasonably wealthy country like the UK, with a National Health Service.

    You and others seem to have suggested that the lack of antibiotics in Tuam in the 20s, 30s and 40s was somehow a heinous and diabolic plot by the Catholic Church.

    Actually, they hadn’t even been invented. Very hard to use something that doesn’t exist.

    That front page of the Irish Examiner looks fruity – thanks. Does the full story reveal who devised this alleged programme (that would be the State, I expect); who administered the ‘experimental’ vaccines (that would be qualified and state-registered doctors, rather than ‘the nuns’ – yes?); and how it compares with similar programmes elsewhere. I doubt the President of the Republic needs to be too embarrassed when meeting President Obama, given the USA’s experimentation on Black prisoners, orphans, others in care and those suffering from mental illness, right up to the 1960s.

      1. Stymied by the old “posting too fast” problem again.

        Here is my reply to Mark Dennehy:

        Thanks for this, Mark – it is a useful contribution to the discussion.

        One wonders if Enda Kenny is aware of its existence. it seems that there is no need for an inquiry now, because one has already taken place. I am a bit puzzled though – I was under the impression that an enquiry about 2001 was effectively stopped by the High Court because Dr Hillary (I think it was) was unable to testify due to advanced age. Is that connected with this paper? When was this paper published, exactly?

        The core of any ‘scandal’ would be whether or not informed consent had been sought and received, as the test clearly complied with Nuremberg Standard 1. On the basis of this, there could be a suspicion that the question of consent may have been treated in a cavalier fashion by the people involved. In the absence of documentation – even an exchange of letters – the assumption must be that it was verbal and informal and in the absence of communication with parents, that they were not properly consulted. BUT – one must also bear in mind that the Age of Majority was 21 and the mothers were, then ‘wards of the State’. The legal responsibility – under the law at the time – rested with the administering authorities. That would be the medical officer, the local council and whoever was administering the home itself.

        Why was this report – which seems to reach a conclusion – never disseminated and why is it not referred to in the current furore? Is the hue and cry too good to let go?

        Ruari McCallion

      2. That report is from November 2000 Ruari.

        Also, noting your comments on it above, I would point out that the report states that while the trials were run by doctors, the state had minimal involvement and the nuns were directly involved in the ethical lapses regarding consent. Just so as we’re clear who’s involved in what.

        And the report very, very clearly states that what you refer to as Standard 1, the first point of the ten in the Nuremberg code, was certainly not clearly adhered to. It could not be proven that consent was given by the people who had the sole authority to do so under the law – namely the mothers of the children. The nuns, as clearly stated in the report, did not have sufficient legal authority to volunteer the children as experimental subjects for a medical experiment, their authority would have been limited even in the most generous interpretation to authorising necessary medical treatment; giving consent for medical experimentation has a far higher requirement. The same legal limits would apply to the other actors you name. However, it is consistently stated that the nuns did give consent and the trials ran on that basis.

        There is no suspicion that there was a cavalier attitude to consent involved; the report very clearly states that even under the normal ethical standards for the time, there were serious ethical lapses in the area of consent (along with some other issues relating to the logistics of the trials). This exceeds even the widest definition of what a cavalier attitude could be considered to be.

      3. To Mark Dennehy:

        Mark, Standard 1 is quoted in the Report on page 17 thus:

        The experiment should be such as to yield fruitful results for the good of society, unprocurable by other methods or means of study, and not random and unnecessary in nature.

        I have no doubt that the study did indeed comply with this. Why do you think it did not?

        I think you are, in your eagerness, confusing it with Standard 2, the first line of which reads:

        The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

        I think I have indicated that this is the area of concern. If I have not given you that impression, allow me to do so now:

        There appears to be concern about whether consent was correctly obtained.

        Ruari McCallion

      4. There is much irony in saying I’ve been too eager because of your own confusion Ruari 🙂

        “Standard 1” in the report is the report’s own invented and non-standard terminology. “Standard 1”, as you can see here ( http://history.nih.gov/research/downloads/nuremberg.pdf ) is not a part of the Nuremberg Code, in fact the word “Standard” does not appear in that document nor is any special term used for the points contained within it.

        And in the code, point number one (of ten) is consent. It is point number one for very obvious historical contexual reasons – namely that the code was drafted in reaction to the non-consentual medical experimentation that preceded it.

        So when you say “Neuremberg Standard 1”, the obvious reading is that you’re referring to the first point in the Nuremberg code and getting the terminology wrong, especially as you immediately begin to talk about the issue of consent without any delineation between the term and the discussion.

        Irony and popcorn aside, when stating that there is “concern” over the issue of consent, you are understating the report beyond the point of misrepresentation. The report is clear – there were ethical lapses in excess of the standards of the Nuremberg Code and the applicable Irish law in the area of obtaining consent for the trials. There is no “concern” – there are breaches. To use analogy, the report is saying there is a decapitated human corpse on the floor and you are reporting that as “concerns” over the person’s health. This is simply dishonest.

      5. That’s really a bit confused, Mark, and I thought you were doing much better.

        Really, pop back and read your own document again. If you do so carefully, I’m sure it will all fall into place.

    1. Hey Ruari, just to address the worst of the factual errors there (because the rest of that stuff is just nonsense that’s not with the effort), antibiotics have been around a lot longer than you suggest. Commercially available artificial antibiotics pretty much start in 1910 with arsphenamine, which was the standard drug until the late 40s when penicillin took over. So from 1910 onwards, antibiotics were available and in widespread use (and after 1912, you even had a choice on the market of different kinds of antibiotic in the arsphenamine family).

      Also, sutures have been in widespread use since prehistoric times, and painkillers in various forms for about as long even if the modern synthetics didn’t come about until around the 1700s (unless you count the opiates as modern synthetics in which case it was around the 1300s).

      1. Weeell, Mark, I’m sure there would have been some use for arsphenamine in Tuam and other places, as it was the first effective treatment for syphilis, although I’m not sure there would have been many cases of Sleeping Sickness in rural Ireland in the 1920s, 30s and 40s – those being the two conditions for which it was useful.

        It was not a broad-spectrum antibiotic like, for example, penicillin, which was first made available for civilian use in Australia after WW2 – I’m sure you can tell me when it became available in Ireland.

        You’re not getting at all confused with the sulfanamides, are you?

        But please – make the effort: point out the factual errors and why they are indeed wrong. We could all do with the benefit of your insight, I’m sure.

      2. I’m glad to see you’re so well versed in a drug you didn’t know existed less than an hour ago that you can tell what it was never used for (fast learner I guess). But you have managed to forget the tens of thousands of sulpha drugs that were on the market between arsphenamine and penicillin. Whoopsie…

        Also, I’m a bit curious about your claim that the tuam home was also a hospital for the poor – I was of the impression such things were required to be registered and regulated as such even in the wild west of the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

        Also, if people were dying there at a rate high enough to push that “hospital” above the national average (and I’m ignoring for a moment that you’re talking about adults being treated and the national average you’re saying was distorted by the adults was actually the child mortality rate and not the adult mortality rate), then are you also saying that the 796 sets of human remains in the tank aren’t all infants or are you saying that there’s more than 796 sets (even though that’d push the home’s average even higher than has been reported thus far)?

        Or are you suggesting (and I’m aware I’m somewhat writing your talking points for you here) that the home was treating the children of the poor, and when they died, putting them in the tank and not registering the burials in accordance with the law that was in force at the time… and the parents were fine with that? But… hang on, wouldn’t those have been married parents if they were outside the home? And wouldn’t that mean the children of those parents were baptised and so wouldn’t they be buried in consecrated ground as was the normal practice? And wouldn’t that mean that they wouldn’t be in the list of 796 deaths which had no corresponding burial record?

        It’s all looking a wee bit maasdam really…

      3. Just so’s we can be clear…

        “Or are you suggesting (and I’m aware I’m somewhat writing your talking points for you here) that the home was treating the children of the poor, and when they died, putting them in the tank and not registering the burials in accordance with the law that was in force at the time… and the parents were fine with that?”

        No.

        anything else I can help you with? Anything of substance, that isn’t a self-erected straw man, that is?

        Not that I would wish to distract you from the task of telling us when antibiotics – that’s antibiotics as we have pretty much always understood them – became available in Ireland.

      4. Almost forgot (must be my age)

        How many ‘children’s bodies’ have been unearthed so far at Tuam, and where? Do we have any evidence (that’s evidence, not speculation fuelled by bigotry) how they got there?

        Perhaps you could check that out after you have found out when antibiotics (the ‘penicillin generation’, to forestall misunderstanding) arrived in Ireland.

  15. Harriet vane – I have to reply to you here.

    “I am a doctor…”

    Can I confirm – are you a medic, a PhD, or equivalent?

    Either way, you should know to be cautious of giving too much weight to media reports generally, and especially when a witch-hunt is in full cry.

    “Thanks for your brilliant observation that sick people are more likely to die than healthy ones…”

    You’re welcome.

    “… but that is completely meaningless (as I’m sure you realize)”

    Actually, no, I don’t either realise or accept any such thing. It is not meaningless to seek to ensure that all relevant information is available, otherwise you end up maintaining that consumption of margarine and divorce rates are inextricably linked.

    Or, of course, it may be that the salient facts are inconvenient for the witch-hunt. I can see why someone eager to burn the witch would want to dismiss anything that got in the way – like inconvenient truths – but that does not make the facts less relevant.

    “The only meaningful comparison is between the death rates of people who are generally comparable in most respects except one…”

    OK, I’m with you so far.

    “…for example, death rates from TB in Tuam vs Leitrim…”

    Yes, I’m with you on that…

    “…or death rates from pneumonia in Dublin in 1960 vs 1920…”

    What?

    What point exactly are you trying to make here? I’m sure that you are aware of the development of (“penicillin generation”!) antibiotics between 1920 and 1960, which massively reduced the impact of pneumonia, slashing its mortality by over 90%? Also, of improvements in housing, water supply and nutrition in the same period?

    “Or infant and child mortality rates in the Tuam home vs Ireland as a whole in the same time period.”

    Well, if you create a ridiculous diversion like the pneumonia stats then you may think it’s easy to lead people up that garden path. For those determined on the witch-hunt, probably – but not me. See my remarks about medical facilities having higher death rates than the average.

    “As I mentioned in my remarks, Ireland had a remarkably high infant mortality rate at the time, about 15%, but the statistics I have seen suggest that the mortality rates in Tuam and the other homes were about 3 to 5 times that, at least in the 1940s and 1950s.”

    15% infant mortality? Where did you get that from?
    and 45-60% in Tuam? In the 40s and 50s?

    I think, madam, you should go to SpecSavers.

    “Please don’t insult my intelligence by pointing out that facilities in England and Scotland were equally horrible–that just shows how little all these countries (which share a very similar culture) valued their young.”

    Absolute balderdash, which merely serves as evidence of additional, anti-English, prejudice. It would appear, from what you have said here, that you know virtually nothing of pre-antibiotic societies. Ireland’s death rates were not that unusual, across the world – or even in Europe. Those rates have improved for a variety of reasons and antibiotics were very prominent among them. Better housing, water supply and sewerage systems have also helped. A lot.

    You should pray that MRSA and similar organisms do not spread more widely. If you truly are a medic, you will be at a complete loss without antibiotics; you will probably be too stunned to cope.

    It seems as if it will come as a profound shock to you to learn that the disease-threatened and insanitary societies of the past were not the result of some conspiracy of the ruling class or even of the Catholic Church; they were because we generally – intelligent as our ancestors were – knew no better. But they strove to make things better and learned, from relying on evidence, not gossip, mendacity or rabble-rousing. Once upon a time, tomato syrup was believed to be a remedy for cholera. That was in the USA. Thank goodness for John Snow in enlightened England, and for others like him.

    You seem to have no knowledge of social history at all but when it comes to “insulting intelligence” I fear I have to acknowledge that you have left me floundering in your wake.

    1. Again Ruari, you’re not getting the facts right there. Penicillin was in development from around 1870 and penicillin-like treatments from quite a few decades earlier; but didn’t hit the commerical market until after WW2 because it wasn’t until WW2 that we learnt to make in in large enough quantities. Modern antibiotics begins in 1910, and jump markedly in then 1930s with the sulpha drugs, but you couldn’t commercially buy penicillin anywhere between 1920 and 1940 as you suggest.

      That said, and perhaps with the minor postscript that a “medic” and a “medical doctor” are not the same thing and are seperated by about a decade of training, I leave you to continue telling a doctor that she doesn’t know anything about medical statistics and return to my woefully insufficient stash of popcorn to watch the car crash…

      1. Could’ve sworn I’d replied to this one already. Ah well.

        Briefly:

        You should return to your sources, revise and review your understanding.

        Yes, a lot of people were trying to uncover various…ahem…”magic bullets”, if you will pardon the phrase. Most of them were following paths that turned out to be fruitless – often, because they were going down a chemical rather than biological route. Some, on the other hand, looked quite promising but the means to mass-produce them were unavailable. As was the case with penicillin, of course, until the 1940s.

        Arsphenamine, of course, was among those that, paradoxically, led some researchers along the wrong path. It is – as I am sure you are aware – an organoarsenic and very different from the “penicillin generation” antibiotics. It had effect against syphilis and sleeping sickness, which have not entirely dissimilar pathologies, and other researchers hoped for more from that area. As we know, they were disappointed.

        However, I fear that your assertion that research was going into “penicillin-like treatments” is a bit inaccurate. It’s like trying to draw a direct connection between early experiments with flying machines – especially the ones with flapping wings – and modern jet airliners. Even a fairly cursory glance will enable one to realise that they are not related at all. Totally different attempts to solve the same problem. One succeeded, most failed, and are no more today than historical curiosities.

        As I said, review and revise.

        PS – I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask someone who appears to have misread some pretty basic health statistics and been out by a factor of at least 10 whether she is a medical doctor or something else. I thought I was quite polite, given the scale of her error.

      2. You’re wrong about the meaning of “medic”, Mark. This is the Oxford dictionary definition:
        NOUN

        1 • informal, chiefly British A medical practitioner or student.
        Suggest you check your facts before you sneer.

      3. My father was a medical doctor in WWII. He told us there was no widespread use of penicillin before WWII. He and his colleagues in the armed services were provided with lots of it and told to keep really good records – it was their observations that established the appropriate dosage and the kinds of infections for which penicillin would work. Thus it was more available after WWII, but I remember still having to take sulpha drugs after WWII – huge horse pills and needing to drink tons of water. BTW sulpha drugs are not anti-biotics.

        It not much different than birth control pills. I married in 1966 when it was hard to find doctor who would even prescribe it b/c nobody really know about dosages. We were the guinea pigs. By the late 60s the pill was more available,even to unmarried women, and the statistics collected helped to vastly lower the appropriate dosage needed.

      4. Thanks, Julia.

        People today really have very little idea of what life was like before the “penicillin generation” antibiotics.

    2. When I said that I am a doctor, that’s exactly what I meant: A fully qualified MD. What, may I ask, are your qualifications?

      As for the mortality rate examples I gave in my post, I thought I made it clear that they were merely hypothetical examples of comparisons that would be valid and meaningful. It makes sense to compare death rates from one disease (TB) in 2 different places (Tuam and Leitrim), the same disease in the same place (pneumonia in Dublin) at 2 different points in time (1920 vs 1960), or the overall mortality of one demographic group in 2 different places/circumstances (mortality of babies in children at the Tuam home vs the same group in Ireland as a whole). On the other hand, it would NOT make sense to try to compare mortality rates of 2 very different groups of people (eg patients in the intensive care unit in a hospital vs the general population, or children vs adults, etc). I was not trying to create a “distraction,” but trying to educate you–which it seems you sorely need.

      As to the source of my “balderdash” 15% infant mortality figure for Ireland at the time, it is the RTE: http://www.rte.ie/news/2014/0604/621550-tuam-grave/ The underlying source of their statistics was research by the Adoption Rights Network, which is reported in detail here: http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/baby-homes-death-rate-up-to-50-271048.html I saw more references to comparable information about the 1950s, but I don’t have them handy at the moment.

      And if that isn’t enough to convince you, try this 430-page report by Amnesty International, prepared in 2011 and delivered to the Children’s Minister at the time, Frances Fitzgerald. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amnesty.ie%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2FINPLAINSIGHT%2520(WEB_VERSION).pdf&ei=C_2RU9bxO6HgsATXhIKoDg&usg=AFQjCNGU_LPaoZAEcbPcUNk8eio0CvRerA&sig2=u417QO9wL14zqVWWkHURXQ&bvm=bv.68445247,d.cWc

      There is plenty of damning information to go around. As a Catholic priest, Fr Brian D’Arcy, said when interviewed on noontime radio yesterday (http://www.newstalk.ie/Tuam-mass-grave-like-something-that-happened-in-Germany-in-the-war), this mass grave seems more like “something that happened in Germany in the war.” My sentiments exactly–and if we brought the Nazis, as well as Slobodan Milosevic and several African dictators, to account for similar crimes, we should do the same for the pepetrators of these abuses.

      I don’t care what religion you are, cruelty is cruelty and evil is evil.

      1. You are thrashing around in a slough of error. Quite astonishingly foolish.

        Go back and read your sources again. Do you REALLY believe that infant mortality reached 15%? Really??? And 60% in Tuam? Six babies in every 10? REALLY?

        If you have any knowledge of medical history you should know that such levels of mortality only occur in situations of epidemic. Cholera. Plague something like that.

        What prevents you from applying the intelligence you claim? Prejudice? Bigotry?

        Let me help you a little bit. There is indeed a 15% figure. It’s the proportion of all deaths in Ireland accounted for by children during the late 20s and 30s. It was not total infant mortality.

        Harriet Vane. A mere wimsey of Dorothy L Sayers, I suppose. She would not have been so blinded by irrational prejudice.

      2. Btw… I’m not the one claiming to be a doctor. My qualifications don’t matter as I’m not using them to claim authority.

        I’m a journalist with qualifications in sociology and history. I can read and understand statistics. And I know that, if a doctor prescribed a dose of insulin 10 times higher than the normal dose, they would kill their patient.

        I’ll get back to you about the rest of your nonsense. Coincidentally, I have the actual statistics on my desktop. I’m currently using my iPad.

      3. Anyway, Harriet, I know you have been champing at the bit to learn more about child mortality in Ireland before the great veil of ignorance descended upon the post-antibiotic generation.

        Sorry, I was otherwise engaged.

        With what, you might ask? What could possibly be more important than answering your uninformed and ignorant points, than bringing light to the unenlightened, to educating the uninformed, to informing the ignorant?

        Well… I was playing a few holes of golf, with my wife. She’s getting to be quite ok, you’ll be happy to hear. Then we came home and had some smoked trout salad – local trout, hand-caught, obviously. Then we watched the closing double-bill of Castle. Have you seen it? I think it’s the senator at the bottom of it all. He’s such a cunning dibble.

        Anyway.

        Child mortality rates in Ireland. Awful times, they really were.

        http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/publications/annual_reports/historical/1921.pdf

        http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/publications/annual_reports/historical/1930.pdf

        http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=_-9KW6PrbM8C&pg=PA34&lpg=PA34&dq=What+was+the+infant+death+rate+in+Ireland+in+the+1920s?&source=bl&ots=jFtL7x1aGB&sig=5kCIs–TuW4YOBf5yXg-KtuZIag&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6N-RU-rZEq3n7AaW3ICACQ&ved=0CDQQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=What%20was%20the%20infant%20death%20rate%20in%20Ireland%20in%20the%201920s%3F&f=false

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1633559/

        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1633559/figure/fig1/

        http://www.gov.ie/en/essays/twentieth.html

        As you will notice, these are all official statistics from the State. Not hyperbole, not rabble-rousing, not gossip or “shouldn’t be allowed” – these are official statistics. You will find actual, official statistics of mortality generally and, more specifically, of child mortality in Ireland during the period under discussion. And of England, too; you will see how mortality plummeted as antibiotics became widely available.

        The stats on child mortality are horrid – the death of any and every child is a tragedy – but they are nowhere near your bigoted fantasies.

        Let me give you a word of advice, Harriet.

        Don’t just read the first paragraph and go off on some bigoted rant.

        Read the whole report. Each one. Try and understand the context – which is made reasonably clear by the reports themselves. And then read some history.

        If you want any more, by all means ask. After you have educated yourself.

        Read this, first. Thoroughly. That way, you are less likely to make yourself look uneducated, uninformed and just plain prejudiced.

        For my part, as I have a tendency towards diabetes, I shall avoid your medical practice in case you misunderstand the numbers and prescribe 10 times the proper dose and kill me.

      4. I am not “claiming” to be a doctor, I am one, and I’ll thank you to stop insulting me over it. i am perfectly capable of interpreting health statistics, and I also have the ability to read, which seems to be lacking in your case.

        I’m really sorry that you have trouble accepting them, but the numbers are the numbers and you can’t change them. The Examiner article I linked to earlier gives detailed figures: in Sean Ross Abbey from 1932-37 there were 846 births and 260 deaths, a 30.7% mortality rate. In the same home from 1940-45, there were 882 births and 271 deaths, again a 30.7% mortality rate. These numbers come from the home’s official records which were deposited at the Department of Health by the Sacred Heart sisters when they closed the home. I don’t care what you want to compare these death rates to–they are nothing short of disgraceful.

        Also using the home’s records, the Examiner reports that the average death rate for children born in Bessborough in 1941-45 was 43.45% (474 births/206 deaths). And it got even worse in later years. Dr James Deeny, the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health at the time, writes in his 1989 memoir “To Cure and to Care” that in one single year in the late 1940s, 180 children were born at Bessborough and 100 died. He went to personally inspect the home, and everything seemed in order at first, but when he insisted on examining several of the children, he found that all of them had purulent skin infections and green diarrhea–signs of a serious staph outbreak at the home–which the nuns had carefully convered up. Although he technically lacked the authority to do so, he ordered the home closed immediately for disinfection and fired several of the top administrators. The following year, less than 2% of the children born at Bessborough died.

        If you’re not capable of believing objective facts reported by public records and the personal testimony of the Chief Medical Officer of Ireland who saw with his own eyes what was going on in these homes, all I can say is that I pity you. But whether you are able to accept it or not, the truth will come to light before long, and I hope everyone who can be brought to account for these horrific abuses will be.

        P.S. As to your gratuitous insult that I must be driven by “anti-English prejudice” to say that the English and Scots didn’t value their young enough in those days, I suppose Charles Dickens was too, because he spent his entire career writing about it. And how about Matthew Arnold’s famous peroration on “Wragg is in custody” from his 1865 essay “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time”:

        ” ‘A shocking child murder has just been committed at Nottingham. A girl named Wragg left the workhouse there on Saturday morning with her young illegitimate child. The child was soon afterwards found dead on
        637 Mapperly Hills, having been strangled. Wragg is in custody.’

        “Nothing but that; but …, how eloquent, how suggestive are those few lines! ‘Our old Anglo-Saxon breed, the best in the whole world!’–how much that is harsh and ill-favoured there is in this best! …what an element of grimness, bareness, and hideousness mixes with it and blurs it; the workhouse, the dismal Mapperly Hills,–how dismal those who have seen them will remember;–the gloom, the smoke, the cold, the strangled
        illegitimate child! ‘I ask you whether, the world over or in past history, there is anything like it?’ Perhaps not, one is inclined to answer; but at any rate, in that case, the world is very much to be pitied.”

        The English may have plenty of sins to atone for, but they get full credit from me for having people among them with the courage to call attention to wrongs and demand that they be righted. And they were righted, to a significant extent. Until quite recently, that’s a great deal more than Ireland could say for itself.

      5. So – you didn’t bother to read the official, government statistics and reports I posted, then?

        I have to say I’m not surprised, Harriet. It was clear a while ago that your mind was made up and you did not wish to be confused with the facts.

      6. This should put the lie to all your protestations about mortality rates in the homes vs Ireland as a whole: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/tuam-deaths-need-further-investigation-says-academic-expert-1.1822219

        To quote from the article in the Irish Times: “The high number of infant deaths in mother and baby homes cannot be explained by infant mortality rates in Ireland at the time, according to an expert.

        “Prof Liam Delaney, the lead author on a 2010 study entitled From Angela’s ashes to the Celtic tiger: Early life conditions and adult health in Ireland, said the rates of infant mortality in such homes deserve to be the subject of an investigation.

        “Infant mortality in Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s was in the region of 70 per 1,000 or 7 per cent, as high as countries in sub-Saharan Africa have now. It was higher in Dublin than in rural areas such as Tuam running at 10 per cent because of crowded conditions and poor sanitation.

        “The figures tailed off after that because of treatments for common childhood illnesses, and rising living standards.

        Prof Delaney, who is professor of economics at Stirling University in Scotland, praised the work of Tuam woman Catherine Corless who has studied the excessive number of deaths at the mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

        Prof Delaney said the rate of death at the mother and baby home in Tuam cannot also be explained by the significantly higher rate of infant mortality among children born out of wedlock.

        “ ‘This points to something serious within these institutions,” he said. “Catherine Corless’s work points to the need for further investigation of these homes.’ ”

        I’d love to see you try to wriggle out of this one.

        So the RTE’s 15% estimate was wrong, but you must realize that these lower estimates for the general population–which are still quite high by any objective standard–make the 30-50% mortality rates I quoted for Sean Ross Abbey and Bessborough (actual, documented figures drawn from the homes’ records) look even worse by comparison.

  16. The fact is that more stuff is going to come out and depending on whether it is an English newspaper or an Irish newspaper the spin will be a polarized one.

    Pay attention to the bleaker headlines in UK papers and how the Irish Papers choose headlines that are very neutral. So as the old saying goes, there are 3 sides to every story, yours, mine and the truth. Some where between the polarized headlines is the truth.

    The Irish are not barbaric, neither is every nun, or priest. All it takes is one Mother Superior to suggest where a dead baby should be deposited and a naïve novice would follow the directive of her superior.

    Who’s at fault? The parents of the girl for placing her in a Home? The boy who got her pregnant? The Church for shoving this notion that pre-marital sex is wrong down our gullets? It is a combination of all of these things.

    The form of Catholicism that rooted itself in Ireland, Jansenism, which started in France, was embraced by the Irish. It is a stricter form of Catholicism, no grey area, black and white world views only. We never questioned the authorities. But today we should be asking all sorts of questions. How much state aid were the Bon Secours given? What were the inmates living conditions like? What were the nuns living quarters like? What did the inmates eat in a typical day? What did the nuns eat in a typical day? Did the inmates have access to warmer clothes, fireplaces? Did children die because they were malnourished, used as guinea pigs for drug testing? Lots of questions should be asked. But in reality the officials who were in charge between 1925-1961 are now probably dead and gone. So what do we do now?

    So again, more will come out, human emotions being what they are, we all feel for the dead babies, but there was very little money in Ireland, we just became an independent nation no more than ten years earlier.

    I like that you’ve taken all points into consideration Catherine, but there’s no doubt that a full inquiry, and forensic pathology using carbon dating of the remains will reveal the truth. What we do with that I don’t know.

    Incidentally, Toam is spelled Tuam. The correct spelling being Tuam I mean.

    1. …actually, she’s not. You could watch the video at the top of the link you provided, it contains video of her stating things that are in direct opposition to the content of the article below it.

      You could also note the comments made by the researcher’s daughter on her behalf where she states her mother is not pleased at being misrepresented by the Times in that article:
      http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/06/07/troubling/

      1. Reply to Mark Dennehy:

        Corless: “I would welcome the truth, always, always. The evidence strongly suggests excavation is the only way, if anyone wants to do that. That wasn’t our intention, our intention was to name the children, have them remembered, put up a plaque.”

        I think that’s fair enough and I don’t think she has been misrepresented by me.

        Ruari McCallion

  17. “The practice of burying babies in unconsecrated ground has long since been revised, however it’s telling that no such outrage is expressed by these pro-choice secularists with regards to the appalling treatment of foetal remains by hospitals and abortion clinics who were happy to incinerate them for energy with surgical waste”

    That is because pro-choice secularists do not regard foetal remains as a human being but as a foetus… that is the whole point of the pro-choice position…

    In reality the investigation will reveal the truth of what happened. The non-existence of a septic tank aside, there are a lot of other issues that need addressing. There are a lot of conflicting reports on whether the infant mortality rate was higher than it should have been. No question that if there was wrongdoing the State and society had a hand, but to deny the part of the church if such is established will just undermine the position of the church further. Better to acknowledge and regret any such wrongdoing if it is found, and consider how such events can be prevented in the future

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/tuam-deaths-need-further-investigation-says-academic-expert-1.1822219

  18. There are tragedies in the real and there are tragedies of made real by exploiting and exploding dubious claims for the purpose of advancing some social or political agenda.

    I am not even sure the whether the records are clear about the number or whom. But what is sure is that we don’t know the how or the why. And anything minus the evidence of the why and the how is irresponsible.

    1. The records are very clear about the number and the whom, as the records are their death certificates. What the records do not show is the where. The burial records from the surrounding area *are* clear about the “where not” however – they all say “not here”; and the eyewitness testimony from 1975 is clear about the where – they say “in that tank”.

      Also, saying “anything minus the evidence…is irresponsible” is incorrect, for two reasons: Firstly, what’s been called for (and which in the last few minutes has been announced) is an inquiry, which should as a component include a forensic investigation of the entire site to determine how many human remains are on-site, and to attempt to identify them if possible (which it may not be for the large majority).

      Secondly, without that forensic investigation and testing of remains, the how may not be possible to determine; and even with the investigation, it may not be possible to determine in many cases. That does not, in any way whatsoever, invalidate or render useless the calls for an inquiry nor does it lessen the importance of that inquiry, nor does it mean the calls are in any way premature. If we had all the facts you say we should have before calling for an inquiry, we wouldn’t need the inquiry in the first place…

  19. why are these nunsallowed to look after children today. these orders should be disbanded andnot allowed too recruit young girls. also they should be divested of their assets as this is the only way to deal with these christless and soul less wemon

    1. I take it that you did not wish to be confused by the facts, Doreen, your mind already being made up?

      May I suggest you change your approach a bit and read both Caroline’s article above and Brendan O’Neill’s column in Spiked? As well as the Irish Times interview with Ms Corless?

      I recommend this in all charity as I don’t want you to continue making yourself look like an uninformed buffoon.

    1. This is from the current entry for Hart Island, New York, at Wikipedia:

      “More than one million dead are buried there—now approximately 1,500 a year. One third of them are infants and stillborn babies – which has been reduced from one half since children’s health insurance began to cover all pregnant women in New York State.[20][21][22][23][24] In 2005 there were 1,419 burials in the potter’s field on Hart Island, including 826 adults, 546 infants and stillborn babies, and 47 burials of dismembered body parts.[14] The dead are buried in trenches. Babies are placed in coffins of various sizes, and are stacked five coffins high and usually twenty coffins across. Adults are placed in larger pine boxes placed according to size and are stacked three coffins high and two coffins across.[20] Burial records on microfilm at the Municipal Archives in Manhattan indicate that babies and adults were buried together in mass graves up until 1913 when the trenches became separate in order to facilitate the more common disinterment of adults. The potter’s field is also used to dispose of amputated body parts, which are placed in boxes labeled “limbs”. Ceremonies have not been conducted at the burial site since the 1950s, and no individual markers are set except for the first child to die of AIDS in New York City who was buried in isolation.[25][26] In the past, burial trenches were re-used after 25–50 years, allowing for sufficient decomposition of the remains. Currently, historic buildings are being torn down to make room for new burials.[27]”

  20. I was raised in the apartheid era, and so am hardly in a position to bash anyone in Ireland generations ago. Ireland in the decades of poverty following the wars seems in context to have done a well as was humanly possible and with great compassion.

    1. Having had a quick look at your site, I see that accuracy and your commentary are not really on speaking terms.

      ” Behind the walls of a septic tank in County Galway lie hundreds of tiny skeletons… the ghastly mass grave of 796 babies, a significant number of which were found in a sewer…”

      I guess you have missed the reporting of the last week also. How do not, you would know that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to back up those assertions.

  21. Reply to “the ragged wagon”, whose post on Sunday did not have room for replies. (Edited!)

    I asked if you were sure that the “vicious Irish secularists” had not “snatched children from their kith and kin, tortured, etc, etc, etc”. You replied with something about the Ryan report, which we already know. The question was: are you sure that the secular authorities have never engaged in this. Given that the industrial schools were fed with children snatched from their parents by the legal system – let me reiterate, the LEGAL system – then it is quite clear that secular authorities were implicated up to their necks.

    Society back then was pretty horrid – certainly a long way from present day sensitivities. Although, back then, they did not see abortion as the solution – in Ireland, at least.

    You may wish to shift the blame with a claim that the Catholic Church was involved all levels of Irish society. However, you must bear in mind that the opposite also applies – the Catholic Church in Ireland reflected the society in which it found itself. Irish society was involved at all levels of the Catholic Church. If there was something uniquely awful about the Catholic Church in Ireland – which you seem to be maintaining – then that, I am afraid, implies that there must’ve been something uniquely awful in Irish society. There may be people who would agree with you if you maintain that.

    I also suggested that you should look further afield and specifically mentioned children’s homes in England and Wales. I could add to that list the government practice in Sweden, which followed the old, once-fashionable practice of eugenics mum after it had been abandoned by more enlightened regimes in – shall we say, middle Europe? Unmarried mothers were routinely forced to have abortions and were then sterilised – they were regarded as subhuman and polluting the purity of society. Sweden, again, was far from unique in this practice – look at the United States and, to an extent, to Canada over the same period. When did that period end? The mid 1970s.

    If you wish to maintain that secular authorities were not involved in what was going on in society, then I would be very interested to learn the basis on which you argue that, and see some evidence in support of it.

    1. @Ruari You are being deliberately obtuse because you just cannot be so ignorant of the situation in Ireland from 1922 (Independence) up to 1996/98 when the last Magdalene Slave Laundry closed. If you are ignorant then it’s a willful, deliberate ignorance. And it’s not much use pointing the finger at England / Wales and how they dealt with children in need. Ireland was going to do things differently. Ireland was going to be a beacon of Catholicism for all the world – yet by the mid-1930s there were more children incarcerated in the 26 counties than in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland & England combined.

      Then you try the Swedish Defence! Would you ever cop on to yourself! Ireland was going to do things differently – Ireland would be this Catholic paradise amongst the nations of the world … seems from the facts Ireland was a mean, sordid place where young mothers were criminalised, incarcerated, and their children put on sale to the highest bidder, and the disposal of the remains of infants was to add them to a sewage system.

      1. Dear mr anonymous ragged wagon

        It has taken you a fortnight to come up with a reply that does nothing more than show the emptiness of your arguments. It reads as a petulant display of disappointed bigotry, tbh.

        The world – the whole world – was a different place back then. There were no tortured babies, no scandal at Tuam. Get over it.

      2. Fair enough and thank you, Caroline.

        I stand by everything but byte first phrase.

      3. Not really. Tim Stanley had already written his piece about the AP withdrawing and correcting their report – which was even more comprehensive withdrawal and rewriting than in the report that Tim quoted.

        Even without that, the fact remains that there was no evidence to support the outpouring of bile and bigotry, of venom and vituperative accusation.

        Whenever the attackers were pressed for proof, they resorted to abuse and invective. As for the Magdalen Laundries – I thought the McAleese report had put that to bed.

        I wonder how Martin Sixsmith’s career looks now. He claimed to have seen a pit stuffed full of skeletons; he didn’t. He claimed that the kids were playing football with babies’ skulls. They weren’t. But those untruths we’re listed in the Daily Mail and Washington Post and clearly influenced the hate mob.

        One other correction, this time form me. “Byte”, in. Y previous comment, should read “the”. My iPad sometimes believes it knows better than I. It doesn’t!

  22. So you see now it is very true, they did leave babies in the septic tank and the depteria injections were part of a clinical trial for GSK

    1. Are you crackers, misinformed or on a witch-hunt?

      GSK didn’t exist until the 1990s.

      Children died of diphtheria in England and Wales too – at the same rate.

      The clinical trials in Galway, which were sanctioned by the Irish government and overseen by the county’s Chief Medical Officer, were primarily undertaken in schools. In the very late 1950s.

      Unless, of course, you have evidence – that’s documentary evidence, not hearsay – to the contrary?

      Mind you, getting over the non-existence of GSM is going to be a bit of a hurdle

      1. I am inclined to shun the name calling. But the response here is supportable. Evidence is a very sound and practiced expectation.

        Pointing to some tragic event and concluding this or that minus any evidentiary link is hardly valuable. The level of emotion exceeds more than is supportable in almost all of these cases.

  23. This is basically uninformed nonsense. I am, unfortunately, responding here on my relatively new phone, with which I am not comfortable, and shall expand on this when I return home and have access to my computer. But one immediate point: 780 babies and infants thrown into septic tanks? Absolutely did not happen.

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