‘What’s In It That’s So Frightening?’

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From top: Taoiseach Enda Kenny; Independent TD Catherine Connolly of Galway West

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly raised the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.

Specifically, she raised concerns about Taoiseach Enda Kenny using “carefully crafted words” to tell the Dáil, “no nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children”.

And she recalled an interim report the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes gave the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone last September.

This interim report was to identify any matters that the commission felt warranted further investigation as part of the commission’s work and, recently, the Adoption Rights Alliance and Justice for Magdalenes Research groups have called on Ms Zappone to publish it.

Ms Connolly and Mr Kenny had the following exchange…

Catherine Connolly: “A shocking discovery, according to everyone, and particularly to yourself Taoiseach. But this is something that Galway has been aware of for a long time, highlighted by Catherine Corless back in 2014, in her painstaking and self-funded research.”

“By the witnesses, the many, many women who went before the commission of inquiry into child abuse which culminated in the Ryan Report, as far back as 2009. They told their stories about their experience in Mother and Baby Homes. It was brought to the attention of Martin McAleese when he concluded his report on the Magdalene laundries. So none of this is shocking to the survivors.

“What is shocking to the survivors, and to me, is the carefully crafted words that you’ve come into the chamber with. And, in particular, that you say ‘no nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children’, ‘we gave them up to what we convinced ourselves was the nuns’ care’ and so on. I don’t doubt your bona fides, a thaoisigh, but I certainly doubt your judgement in reading that out, a carefully crafted speech with a sentence like that in these circumstances. My question: please answer. Where is the interim report that has sat with the minister since September last year? Please confirm that the site will be sealed off as any crime scene is sealed off.”

“Please confirm that records will be made available to those that are seeking them and somebody like Peter Mulryan doesn’t have to go to the High Court to seek the records of his sister. Please stop the hypocrisy…”

Enda Kenny: “That was the reason that a Commission of Investigation was set up and that has its independence with wide-ranging, wide-ranging terms of reference and it hasn’t actually reported its official findings yet. Nor indeed has the coroner declared what he considers the next step to be. The gardai have independent responsibility. What you’re asking me to do now, is to direct an independent commission to do certain things. The questions that you ask are valid questions and they do need to be answers and I expect that they will be answered. And you can refer to carefully crafted sentences if you like. The fact of the matter is: the nuns did not take the children out of the houses of Ireland. They were sent to these Mother and Baby Homes, in the vast majority of cases, by the families themselves. The disgrace that was wreaked upon parish after parish, simply because a young woman became pregnant, to give birth to a child…”

Connolly: I’m not sure if you’re completely and utterly out of your depth or that you just stick to prepared scripts. I really don’t know what the issue is. I haven’t asked you anything about the coroner, nor the guards. I specifically asked you, in relation to publishing an interim report that your minister has since September last year. There’s the reply. She is going to publish it. I’m asking you now to confirm, why it hasn’t been published? Eight months later? What’s in it that’s so frightening? What’s in it that prevents it being published? In relation to your commission and our shameful past, who made it shameful to have what was natural, a pregnancy and a baby? Who made that shameful? Who instituted that those babies were taken? Not directly by the nuns in the middle of the night but as a result of a visit from a priest or someone else doing their job.”

“Please don’t insult the women of Ireland on International Women’s Day and just, and answer the question: when is the interim report going to be published? Please confirm that the site in Tuam will be sealed appropriately. Please stop talking about a memorial at this point which is utterly premature and deal with the facts and the issues that the representative organisations are asking you. At some stage the Government has to learn.”

Kenny:Far from insulting the women of Ireland, I want to stand by finding out answers to these particular problems and these particular questions. And it is beneath you to take that line, deputy Connolly. Beneath you to take that line.”

“Now, the gardai themselves have a duty here. Certainly contact them if that site is not sealed off already. I haven’t read the interim report that Minister Zappone has. I’m quite sure she’s in consultation with people about this. I see no reason why the report cannot be published, the same as any other report. It may have to be in some redacted form, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it, I haven’t read it. I’m quite sure the minister will answer for that.”

“But I want you to understand this Deputy Connolly, I am as committed as anybody else to seeing that we deal with this for once and for all. I come from the west of Ireland, as you well know, and I can’t put a figure on the number of young women in my time, since the 1950s, who were sent away to foster homes or to other countries to have their children. Simply because they became pregnant out of wedlock. If you think that I insult the women of Ireland, by trying to do what I want to do here, in respect of our Government and our people, then you’re very much mistaken.”

50 thoughts on “‘What’s In It That’s So Frightening?’

  1. Sheik Yahbouti

    Exposed yet again (my compliments to the questioner)! The Taoisheach who knows nothing – (other than how to suck up to the powerful) – doesn’t want to know anything – reads nothing, and is interested only in uttering “carefully crafted” speeches written by others, the meaning of which it is doubtful he understands.

  2. Daddy

    I’d say Kenny wore the Ash with pride last Wednesday so all his parochial voters could see it.

    “Extra big smudge there Father. I’ll need the votes”.

  3. Brother Barnabas

    In fairness, the comment from Connolly:

    “I’m not sure if you’re completely and utterly out of your depth or that you just stick to prepared scripts”

    would be just as applicable and appropriate had it been said to Kenny at any other moment since becoming Taoiseach.

      1. mildred st. meadowlark

        Oh no, they aren’t missing him. They sent him up here on purpose. Bastards.

  4. fmong

    Enda Kenny won’t stick anything on the nuns while Terry Prone, who “media trains” FG is their PR lady

    1. classter

      Blaming the nuns compeletely is an easy answer.

      The state & the society bear bear huge responsibility too.

      I’m not sure the drivers which led to all that have disappeared. I reckon a few genrations hence will look back at Direct provision & be ashamed.

      1. Goosey Lucy

        Agree completely Classter. It hasn’t died out- I made the point a few days ago that the whistle- blower scandal is indicative of this- this deference to power , what sort of messed up psyche does Ireland have that we feel the need to grease our way up the ladder all of our miserable lives?
        I completely want to see criminal charges brought against the church, but also against the state- which is supposed to protect its citizens.
        But Enda is 100% right- families- out of shame!-shame! , were entirely complicit

  5. Skeptical O'Hare

    Catherine Connolly is the Dáil’s best kept secret. She should be rewarded for her directness of speech.

    1. postmanpat

      She gets paid . Dude, she’s a politician! A solicitor with a background in phycology. Got in on the back of a backlash against the establishment during the crash. knocked on some doors, said the right thing , probably biding her time before joining a major party a sowing the seeds of a family dynasty just like every other politician. Don’t be taken in just because she’s sparring with that plank Kenny.

      1. Frilly Keane

        Thats beneat’ you Deputy Pat
        Thats beneat’ you

        Yer man O’Hare is right
        Catherine Connolly is an asset we’re not getting the best use out’ve

      2. BobbyJ

        You’re talking nonsense. I’d recommend you do some research on Connolly and her background in politics.

      3. Skeptical O'Hare

        Thanks for the advice. I may be skeptical, but I’m not cynical and I hope I’m not easily taken in. I’ve watched many of her contributions in the Dáil. I’ve watched many of her contributions at the PAC. She is a very capable, competent individual and at the moment one of a minority of Irish politicians I would trust. However, I don’t live in Galway so I doubt I’ll ever be in a position to vote for her. Just as an aside – The crash took place in 2008. Connolly was elected in 2016.

  6. postmanpat

    What is the point of any of this? What are the goals of either side? The Church run organizations are bad , no one is arguing that , or are they ? Single mothers are not sent away anymore (in this country). Its like these two clowns just like talking for the sake of talking and trying to show up the other side as being disingenuous when both of them couldn’t care less in the first place. ” what happened is terrible…” “is was terrible , but who are you to say its terrible” ” are you saying its not terrible ” ” I’m not saying its not terrible , I can assure you of that” ” You cant assure me of anything” ” I was first to feel terrible not you ” ” you are mistaken, I knew about this terrible thing …excuse me let me finish….”

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Excellent post, postmanpat, which contains many truths. I confess I can sometimes get carried away. However, while fully appreciating what you say I fall back on the old maxim “a people who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”. It is still valuable to learn the basic truths of the society that existed in (my) living memory and the licence given by that society to pious craw thumpers and overbearing religion. The Church often portrays itself as valiantly stepping into the breach to provide education and healthcare in the face of a negligent state who would not provide it. This is only marginally true – the Church fought tooth and nail to be those providers – and profited handsomely from their ‘charitable’ endeavours.

      1. postmanpat

        true, profited handsomely then hid the money so future generations would have to pick up the compensation bill. Tax payers shouldn’t have to pay for the rapey , murdering , slave driving church. Even if it means the victims get nothing, well tough. I’m sorry. write to the pope for cash. the catholic church is the richest private organization in the world. How they get away with legally ring fencing the offending (and suspiciously all of a sudden, bankrupt) religious order is beyond me. Scratch that! I know how they do it, they have a crack legal team in the Vatican that know how to get out of anything and have gotten expert at it with their centuries of experience and unlimited finances.

    2. Increasing Displacement

      “What is the point of any of this? What are the goals of either side? ”

      Are they real questions or are you just trolling?

      Aside: How a coward is let into a position of power and let lead a country is unreal.

      1. postmanpat

        not trolling , seriously what is to be gained by this back and forth between Connolly and Kenny? It seems that it two politicians trying to score points on each other over some meaningless rhetorical speech Enda made (and someone else wrote.) wow!!! so what? Enda didn’t dump any kids in a tank. most of the whesste will in in the church next Sunday as will these two. . Fran the man will play both sides like he always does. etc. I am asking why they are talking about this? What is the endgame?

        1. Goodnight Ireland

          To get to the truth. It has been blocked, delayed and obfuscated. The Irish people need to know the full extent of what went on. I would go further and say that the guilty need to be prosecuted regardless of age. Yes, they were sent there willingly (by their parents). It doesn’t excuse the behaviour of those in charge.

          1. postmanpat

            Please , The Irish people cant handle the truth. The truth is there is no such thing as god. You cannot leave your children alone with clergy because they are perverts in every sense of the word. I don’t need a report to know that the uglier babies/ incest babies /weaker babies were neglected and allowed to die because the nuns didn’t want any negative blowback from unsatisfied adopters. Unfortunate genetic lottery losers allowed to die and disposed off. The people who ran these organization were not normal people. People who join the clergy are not normal people. they have a piece missing. We know this.

  7. Dekkard

    We’ve been here before, the establishment is trying to socialize the guilt just like the financial crash, sure we all partied. By making it a societal problem the powers that be can avoid the specifics or individuals even groups and institutions, it’s all our fault and we all have to feel guilty. The real guilty parties go unpunished.

    1. ahjayzis

      All reparations will be covered by the taxpayer and the taxpayer alone. That’s the nub of it. Systems Failure strikes again. Remember to baptise your kid to ensure a place in a 100% publically funded school now.

    2. Kieran NYC

      “We’ve been here before, the establishment is trying to socialize the guilt just like the financial crash, sure we all partied.”

      And much like the crash, society is trying to shrug off all of *its* responsibility and culpability onto the most egregiously guilty organization, accepting none of the blame. Always playing the innocent victim at the mercy of the Big Bad Faceless Organization. It’s a broken record at this stage.

      Ireland knew full well what was going on. And that means peoples’ grannies and granddads. Nuns didn’t do this in a vacuum.

      Much like in 20 years time when there’s an investigation into Direct Provision and everyone pretends to be surprised and unaware. We all know what’s going on there. At least the German people had the good grace to admit their complicity.

      Irish people just don’t like to hear it.

      (I in NO WAY believe the religious organizations should be let off the hook, btw)

      1. anne

        Whose in control of the administration of direct provision? The state. It’s not faceless. It’s those in government..those in power.
        Society at large is faceless.

      2. Nigel

        We weren’t a police state or a militarised state. Oppression in Ireland was socially reinforced by the people of the state. Moral authority was ceded to a monolithic religious organisation whose arbitrary spiritual diktats were law in every level of society. Social shaming and ostracism were more powerful as a tool of oppression than the police. It didn’t have to be that way, but at a guess, the State, ordinary citizens and politicians alike, were so desperate for stability and a sense of identity they though the sacrifice of compassion and humanity was worth it, and anyone who said different was silenced or exiled.

  8. dav

    “I’m not sure if you’re completely and utterly out of your depth or that you just stick to prepared scripts…”
    fair play Catherine, putting that spineless guttersnipe back into his box..

  9. :-Joe

    Independent TD Catherine Connolly… Always a rare shining light of sanity up against the black hole of the majority Irish and the usual poitical madness.

    enNNNNDAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!……. can’t even pretend he wrote his own speech and deliver it with sincerity, let alone resist the temptation to use the whole ritual act of orating the public from high to make himself look like a true statesman and a leader of any real conscience and conviction.

    Another epic and fine-FAIL from our head schoolteacher and the writers nay crony engineers, in the teacher’s rec room… A room that’s supposed to be the battle arena of open and honest debate and other important things like… I don’t know..?… Truth?… Responibility… ? Decency… ?

    Useless shower of gombeens,,,,,,,,, you get what you vote for folks.. standards are steeping to a new low as usual.

    :-J

    1. :-Joe

      “We know Kenny is a daft eejit but now he’s drowning in his own dreams and futile ambitions of building a legacy etc.”

      -I’m paraphrasing a bit tbh.

      :-J.

  10. EightersGonnaEight

    There are more bodies buried in the Bon Secours order and the health service than in Tuam. Let’s them the hospitals sued and shut down. They’re full of fat old people on private health care and consultants with Porsches and private planes anyway. Fupp em.

    1. Kieran NYC

      We (the state) paid a headcount for the children to be treated like animals.

      There was no outcry when the mothers came back alone and traumatised.

      The country was complicit. Get off your high horse.

  11. james p.....

    After a long time it out there is children buried in convents around the country. I was in saint Ann’s , industrial school for girls… Booterstown ave, BlackRock, co Dublin.
    ONLY BOY FOR FIRST EIGHT YEARS OF ELEVEN TO TWELVE YEARS THAT I WAS THERE. ). It was many thing including a working industrial laundrette when I arrived in early 1968.. Any way I was there with my three sisters and was pretty much left to my own devices, more or less and I explored the whole place over the years including saint Andrews’s collage. Booterstown ave.
    When I was six or seven years old when I found in the nuns compound behind the laundry in the orchard four small graves three foot long with stones on top and old crosses either falling over or ling on the ground. They were all over grown and I cleared the stones and the brambles away, I brought the crosses to the nuns and Sister Antoinette said that was were gods little angels were…
    I’m not trying to open old wounds, after the late late on Saturday night I though this is never going to go away if we don’t grab it and deal with the whole issues. I spoke to the gards in BlackRock and they said they will get back to me when they work out what to do…… asap…

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