While not unexpected, the report into mother and baby homes is absolutely shocking.
We can easily be desensitised in a world where there’s little left to move us.
But over the past week, I felt compelled to read about and listen carefully to the stories of the survivors to make myself feel the pain which we should all feel on their behalf.
Ireland has enjoyed successes and achievements over the past 100 years through the toil of our people, our sportspeople, our poets, musicians and peacemakers. It is in contrast to the many dark hours it has also suffered. There were the Troubles, the cover up of child abuse, economic mismanagement and forced emigration.
As President Michael D Higgins has alluded to, we now need a proper investigation into how and why this happened
But inarguably Ireland’s greatest shame has been the sinister treatment which tens of thousands of innocent young women and girls and their newborn babies were subjected to in full view of many pillars of society for so long.
As President Michael D Higgins has alluded to, we now need a proper investigation into how and why this happened while people looked the other way. Yes, the Church and State were the ringleaders in facilitating what would be unquestionably criminal acts today against innocent and defenceless young women. But we are left asking our parents and grandparents, how did nobody shout “stop”?
How was this allowed to happen as other actors in the process such as families, the men who fathered these children, doctors and gardaí stood idly by?
Cruel nuns using religion as useful cover assisted by others, were allowed inflict the most depraved acts of evil against women in childbirth. It makes it perplexing to reconcile the idea that the Church was and is so strongly “pro-life” when it was up to its neck condemning so many women and babies to anything but a chance at living a normal life.
How was this allowed to happen as other actors in the process such as families, the men who fathered these children, doctors and gardaí stood idly by? And how on Earth did fathers drive their terrified daughters to the gates of these homes?
Maybe the media was also complicit. People will say that they were afraid to speak out against the all powerful church. If that really was the atmosphere of a time which prevailed for decades, it is no wonder the likes of Catherine Corless found it so hard to get to the truth. And there’s no doubt but there are people still among us today who wish she never went looking for the truth and blame the media for everything.
The pendulum has now swung the other way completely
There was a time when she would have been stopped in her tracks, a time when questioning views was suppressed. The pendulum has now swung the other way completely, where conservatives and Catholics feel they cannot speak their mind in this era of cancel culture – which is not healthy either. But that’s perhaps a discussion for another time.
What is important right now for the sake of those mothers and in the memory of the thousands of babies who died in squalor is the unqualified acceptance by the religious orders of their role.
Today, you are allowed to be a practicing Catholic and overtly display your disgust and anger too
For people of a strong faith, particularly older people, it is uncomfortable too to hear the disdain and disgust with which the report has propelled society into having for the Church they cherish. But the day of church apologists deflecting from the reality is gone forever. Today, you are allowed to be a practicing Catholic and overtly display your disgust and anger too. The tyranny has gone. The facts have been laid bare and this shameful piece of recent history can no longer be denied.
With hospitality closed, you’ll notice more young people working in shops and supermarkets instead. They are providing a vital service and bringing in some much-needed cash to homes where full-time work has been lost so be nice to them. And wear a mask.