For Whom The Bells Toll


Screen grab

This morning.

Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy (top) called for, among other things, the removal of the Angelus from RTÉ. The comments were made during Dail statements on the Announcement by the Commission of Investigation confirming Human Remains on the Site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby home.

Ms Murphy said:

“When I first raised this issue in this House back in 2014 following my reading of Catherine Corless’s research I called at the time for the site at Tuam to immediately be declared a crime scene with Gardaí, crime scene techs, forensic anthropologists and anything else needed to establish the exact details of this atrocity.

And make no mistake, it was and is an atrocity. A mass grave of 796 tiny bodies, discarded like trash.

I listened to the Taoiseach’s speech yesterday about the culpability of the State and society. But the State- for the vast majority of time since it’s foundation the State itself was Fine Gael and or Fianna Fáil.

They were the ones who presided over debates in the chamber which referred to children born outside marriage in the most disparaging and disgusting terms and who wilfully handed over their responsibility for these women and children to a Church and they knew to be merciless at best.

So when we talk about the culpability of the State and Society, know that it was not Joe & Josephine Soap who condemned these women to a life of shame and the murder or export of their children, it was the Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael led State and their complete abdication of responsibility while being fully aware of the life they were consigning those women and children to.

The attitudes which prevailed were perpetuated by every arm of the state – the guards, the medical profession and the political system thus allowing the church to run free with their campaign of terror and castigating women for some perceived sin.

How utterly and tragically ironic that those same nuns who labelled those women as immoral, saw nothing immoral about neglecting a child to the point of death then disposing of their body in a septic tank.

And this is not the dark ages we’re talking about. The legacy of these acts are current or just one generation removed. The relatives of these women and children are still alive.

In 1995 when children playing on the site discovered skulls, it was not the police who were called for, it was a priest. He was called to bless the site then everybody went about their business as usual. The State once again turned a blind eye.

The horrors of the mother and baby homes cannot be properly put into words. The rumours of clinical drug trials have not been properly addressed and there was enough evidence of such trials in Tuam for the then Minister Kathleen Lynch to call for the Terms of Reference to include vaccine trials as part of the inquiry.

That didn’t happen and instead the terms referred to the ‘care arrangements including institutional practice with regard to health, safety, welfare and interests of mothers and children.’ It is not clear if possible vaccine trials were included.

A man from the area spoke to me recently of playing on the site and discovering hundreds of used vials buried in the grounds. And as we are all too painfully aware, such barbaric trials were not uncommon in other mother and baby homes.

So while there is now a collective wringing of hands – 2 years after it was first suggested publicly that there may be a mass grave in Tuam – the fact remains that the horrors of Tuam and other mother and baby homes existed because the State permitted the Church to control some of our most fundamental institutions and the sad fact is that not much has changed today.

We have got to take the Church from our schools, from our hospitals and medical care and from our politics. It is unacceptable that children are regularly discriminated against in our education system based on religion,

it is unacceptable that religious orders can hold any influence over medical institutions and the healthcare provided particularly to women; and it is unacceptable that the Dáil opens up every day with a prayer that is not representative of all elected members or citizens; and it is unacceptable that our national broadcaster, funded by the State, subjects citizens of all faiths and none to the angelus bells twice daily.”

These are relics of a bygone era and if Tuam has shown us anything it is this – the State must take responsibility for its citizens and the Church has no legitimacy in the healthcare or education of those citizens.”

Yesterday: What’s In It That’s So Frightening?


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93 thoughts on “For Whom The Bells Toll

  1. rotide

    Whoa , Catherine just proved the virtue signalling point from earlier.

    Comparing this to Bosnia and Rwanda. She is comparing this to an actual HOLOCAUST?

    Mass graves are not unusual.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      Wow. There really are no depths to which you won’t sink in order to lick the boots of the powerful? Virtue signalling? Mass graves are not unusual? I am genuinely disgusted by you.

    2. Nigel

      Not to pile on the abuse, but this is unfair. People are struggling to express their horror and their anger. It’s one thing for mass graves to not be unusual. It’s another thing to suddenly realise there’s a bunch of them on your doorstep. To pick nits about the relative sizes of the atrocities invoked seems to miss the point that we’re waking up to the very real possibility that atrocities of own are now coming to light and there are damn few social cues as to how to behave or talk or what language to use in such an eventuality.

      1. rotide

        It isn’t unfair.

        I understand the horror and the anger. However the outrage is almost certainly being stoked by outlandish claims of murder and holocaust and genocide.

        The church most defintely have a case to answer here. What was done was outrageous but can we please use the correct language and be clearer about what we are talking about. There’s enough political nonsense emantating from across the pond without Catherine Murphy adding fuel to the fire.

        1. Listrade

          I’m missing something. You’re the third person today to state that people are claiming murder. I haven’t seen any such claims. Is there a link?

          1. Listrade

            Genuinely missed it as haven’t read all comments on that thread. But I thought you were referring to actual newspaper reports, not just commentators.

            I get that you don’t like the use of holocaust, I’m not overly happy with the use too, but you’re coming across as playing down what’s happened based on two journalists who used it.

            You’ve whitewashed the states involvement by repeating Enda Kenny’s demeaning line.

            On mass graves, you comment that there are many across Ireland. Well there are, but that’s missing a whole load of context. We had no choice to have mass graves for the famine as there were too many dead to bury in a graveyard and they needed to be buried quickly to prevent disease. Mass graves are a dire emergency in the event of mass death.

            They are not common in the case of institutions that are supposed to be looking after the health and wellness of kids. Please stop with the glib passing off of these events.

            And murder is strong and without evidence. But we know children were denied medical care, if they died from this, I dunno I think it might be murder. Just how negligent does someone responsible for care have to be before it is murder?

            But I agree that’s for the investigation and any criminal action.

            Disagree with the words being used, but belittling the events to do so, that’s different. That’s callous.

          2. rotide

            Wait a second, If I’m reading that very well written wall of text correctly, You have an issue with my choice of words while not accepting that I take issue with Deputy Murphys?

            I’m not talking about 2 journalists, I’m talking about an elected official of the state comparing this case to the genocide in rwanda and bosnia. I’m talking about the morons here who don’t seem to know what a holocaust or a genocide actually is.

            Also, I’m not denying the involvement of the state, the church or anyone in this case. It’s Catherine Murphy who is denying everyones involvement bar FF and FG.

          3. Listrade

            No you don’t take that wall of text correctly. I agree with your position on using terms like holocaust, I disagree with how you go about expressing that by appearing to diminish the facts.

            The problem is that there is no term that describes the gross negelct and abuse we knew existed, so I don’t feel compelled to belittle those who search for a term that means something to them.

            And repeating Enda’s line about the nuns or the state not climbing into windows is exactly a reasonable way of opening up the debate on the part Irish people played in this.

            I thought the whole point was to avoid hyperbole and overreaction yet one commentator on a thread, a TD and two journalists are being used to undermine and demean everyone who is angry.

            This was state sponsored, state funded gross negelct and abuse in living memory. Not all those condemned to these institutions were sent there by their families. But those families who did were not in a position of power operating in full knowledge of what was going on.

          4. Sheik Yahbouti

            The Americans call it either “negligent homicide” or “depraved indifference” depending on the circumstances. Both are deemed serious felonies.

          5. ReproBertie

            Catherine Murphy blames FF and FG while making no comment on those who elected them.

            The nuns may well have been the instruments but Irish society were aware and enabling. Why send daughters to the mother and baby homes if not to avoid the shame in the eyes of the neighbours? And yes the church was the main source of that shame and enforcing it.

          6. Listrade

            Ok, how about those sent there by the Board of Health because they didn’t want them in the normal maternity wards with the ‘legitimate’ mothers?

            They had no choice, nor did their families. The Board of Health wouldn’t help them deliver a baby. They could only use the Homes for a safe delivery. And the deal was the Home would only have you if you agreed to stay there for a year to “repay” them. Oh and sign over ownership of your baby to them for them to sell.

            And if it happened again, you were sent to Laundry. Not by your family, but by the state.

          7. MoyestWithExcitement

            “Why send daughters to the mother and baby homes if not to avoid the shame in the eyes of the neighbours? And yes the church was the main source of that shame and enforcing it.”

            Doesn’t your second sentence there answer your question? Irish society wasn’t enabling, it was controlled.

          8. ReproBertie

            Yes, it does answer it Moyest. I guess I’m just struggling to understand why my parents’ generation and those before were unable to stand up to or ignore the church the way this generation seems to be. The church in Ireland is dying but what changed to bring this about? That’s obviously a discussion for another day.

            @Listrade, I was unaware of that.

        2. Nigel

          It’s such a weak criticism, though. We’re not talking about something trivial, here, we’re talking about something that seems to get bigger and bigger the farther away it gets in time. When it was ‘just’ sexual abuse, it felt like a holocaust of innocence. Now suddenly there are actual mass graves and hints of neglect and disposal, a potential holocaust of illegitimate babies. That there might be some hyperbolic use of language simply does not seem that important.

          1. rotide

            Either you don’t know what a holocaust is or you are intentionally being a complete moron and I know you’re not that Nigel.

            You use the word holocaust twice and then go on to talk about ‘hyperbolic’ use of language?

        3. 8den

          Pathetic hairspliting.

          The nuns were getting a sizeable stipen from the state to take care of these children. The site had both a hospital & a working farm.

          And yet children died of starvation in their hundreds, often at the rate of 1 child every other day over a period of years. This goes way beyond the scope of negligence, criminal or otherwise.

          I refer you to the camps like Omarska in Bosnia, where men were left to starve and rot in their own filth, that was considered both a war crime and genocide.

          I’m genuinely curious as to why some people are unwilling to accept the gravity and enormity of this crime. Would you consider it more damning if there was another couple of zeroes after the death toil?

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            A mass grave of children has been found in the care of a religious order, a religion that essentially ruled the country, and we have people that are getting upset about which words are being used to describe this MASS CHILD GRAVE.

          2. ReproBertie

            The argument against the words used is an attempt to play it down. Some Catholic mouthpiece claimed that since the report doesn’t use the words “mass grave” then the reports of a mass grave are fake news and just another attack on the church.

            Sadly, despite the apparently unending revelations about the abuses of the church in Ireland, there are still people who are happy to grasp this straw.

        4. Lord Snowflakee

          Yes we can use the correct language to describe the depravity to which craven bootlickers like you and your ilk will stoop to, to defend the indefensible.

          1. rotide

            No doubt you will be pointing out where I defended anyone involved in this in due course?

    3. anne

      “mass graves are not unusual”

      Like I suppose murder is not unusual. But as a supposedly civilized society these are not things we condone.

      Sorry for the ‘annespliaining’ there..but you clearly don’t get it.

    4. Deluded

      I agree with rotide, mass graves are not unusual.
      However I think that mass graves when there is no obvious war, plague or famine
      are unusual, and these graves are not isolated, but widespread.
      That it was hateful and malicious is unquestioned, however the religious will quibble over the scale of it, they will argue that neglect does not equal murder.
      They will argue, against all evidence that nobody cared.

      The fact remains that it was a system for removing “”illegitimate”” children from society with adoption and re-integration being the preferred result.

      Whatever you call it, it was fuktup.

      1. anne


        he’s saying the fukupped isn’t usual though..shur they were all at it. baby murdering was normal back then.

  2. Blah

    Either that video was edited or whoever transcribed that speech is taking liberties. She did not say “murderous at worst” (1m02s), nor did she say “hundreds of vials” (3m14s).

    1. postmanpat

      shush…bending the truth a little for extra spin is okay, the ends justify the means.

  3. Damian

    The only TD with a backbone that’s not afraid to challenge the establishment, fair play Catherine she gets my vote every time.

  4. Sheik Yahbouti

    Thank you once again, Catherine Murphy, for telling it like it is. Apologists and obfuscators can go and do the other thing.

  5. rotide

    “it was not Joe & Josephine Soap who condemned these women to a life of shame ”
    I must be missing the old law that said FG/FF could invade your home in the dead of night and whisk shamed women and children away to industrial schools without families knowledge.

    Someone yesterday said that the only difference between us and Germans is that at least the Germans had the decency to admit their complicity. No one should excuse what the church perpeptrated, but while were pointing fingers we should make sure they are being pointed at all culpable parties. That’s something that Catherine Murphy is not doing.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      ‘Stop blaming the church for their actions everyone. Deflect deflect deflect!’ Shameless.

      1. Kieran NYC

        Never blame people for forcing their daughters into the arms of nuns to have their newborn children taken away from them*!


        *at the very least

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Just as long as we’re not blaming the All Powerful Church. Poor little guys have had way too many mean words written about them on the internet from all these overly emotional snowflakes pretending to be angry about a mass grave of dead babies.

          1. Steve

            You’re a gobsh@&e and I’m not a fan of responding to ye but I never said FF or FG should be absolved of blame. They were a reflection of societal norms at the time.

            Kellma states this far more eloquently below than I ever could

          2. anne

            Why are you responding saying what you never said.

            His comment waa to KFC..unless you’re KFC too

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          Nope. You’re a social conservative. The social order must be defended from the anger of uppity peasants. That’s the message behind nearly all your posts.

          1. rotide

            You and bodger have me all worked out, good work.

            Now back to cracking that pizzagate case.

            Watch this space for the big news coming soon.

          2. Lord Snowflakee

            It’s absolutely on the money in this case though rotide and your gimp limp wrist response about ‘pizzagate’ reminds me of the trolls in the Dáil who bring up the IRA or the Cahill woman whenever Gerry Adams makes a speech. You’re a craven piss poor apologist for horrific crimes.

    2. Listrade

      “I must be missing the old law that said FG/FF could invade your home in the dead of night and whisk shamed women and children away to industrial schools without families knowledge.”

      Sure, its that easy. An open secret of neglect and abuse that the state did nothing to stop. Selling of children to America that the state exempted the church from. But the state funded these institutions actually gave them money to operate. The state knew about the abuse and neglect and let it happen.

      The words and the views of the Church on unmarried mothers and “illegitimate” children was with the connivance of the state, it was supported in the Dail, it was funded by the state despite them knowing what was happening.

      I agree, there is plenty of culpability at those who condemned and disowned their own family to these, but places, but we cannot ignore the support for that doctrine came from the state. The silence and cover ups was supported by the state.

      The Germans had the decency to admit their complicity, but those in power who promulgated the beliefs and carried out and supported the policies were held responsible.

      Through its knowledge of the conditions and practices at those homes, the state connived by failing to take action, not just taking action but helping to keep the practices hidden.

    1. Jesus Wept

      ‘The Angelus’ is the call to prayer of a church that has a very dark & violent history when it comes to women and children.Sexual abuse,rape,murder,pedophilia are just a few of it’s crimes.We are exposed to one new scandal after another by this church but they get to issue their call to prayer twice daily into everbodies home through the national broadcaster.The Angelus is hugely symbolic of the catholic churches control over the lives of people on this Island.

      1. Mahoney

        I dunno I think it’s pretty harmless, it looks nice all those people stopping and looking wistfully at things, bong, bong, bong etc.

        1. Eoiny

          Daily state funded prime time advertisements for a religion? Tuam aside, that seems a bit mad in this day and age. Ireland has a serious problem with the separation of Church and State and while this isn’t as serious as not being able to get into schools without being baptised it is a part of the problem.

        2. postmanpat

          The confederate flag was pretty harmless too but most Americans don’t care that it was wiped out last year either. Get rid of the RTE angelus, no one needs it and no one will miss it. Its an embarrassment to the country. Like Hector or Richie Kavanagh or Ray Darcy or Nail Delimare or Bernard O’Shea or anyone from Republic of Telly for that matter or Andrew Maxwell or Jedward or Gerry Ryan or George Hook etc. etc.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            He seems to really annoy several people though. Having said that, Ed Byne gives me migraines.

  6. Steve

    The state is a reflection of society and its people. And the people voted mostly for FF during the last 80 years. Easy to blame establishment parties.

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Everyone was guilty of turning a blind eye to this evil because of fear of social ostracism.

    Cheap attempt at political point scoring by Murphy.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      No this post is cheap political point scoring. Yet again, another volunteer/social media dept employee is telling us we shouldn’t direct our anger at the institutions that have ruled this country with nothing but contempt for its people.

      1. ReproBertie

        Wouldn’t FF count as one of those institutions that have ruled this country with nothing but contempt for its people?

    2. Wayne Carr

      So is the crash our fault as well? Did Fianna Fáil put “starving children in Tuam” into their manifesto in the 1950s, or “destroying economic sovereignty” in the 2000s? If they did, then you’re correct, people voted FF, and they must take the blame.

      If FF didn’t do this, and you’re just an aplologist for a party which is still explicitly anti-choice, then it’s tough to put “equal” blame on the people for this atrocity.

      1. Steve

        As per my comment above, I’m not absolving FF/FG of blame. Equally culpable. As an FG voter I’m certainly not an apologist for FF.

        For these institutions and practices to exist for decades it required, in the least, widespread ignorance from society at large…because of fear of social ostracism and / or fear of the Catholic Church. You can’t simply lay the blame at the 70-100 FF/FG TDs at any one time in the oireachtas.

        Why didn’t the clann Na talmhan or labour or Independents pipe up??

  7. Dubhàin

    Everyone is trying to pick who to blame, the church or the state. Why not both. The free French all but exterminated both the nazis and the Vichy supporters in 45 without any of this debate

  8. kellma

    The Catholic church has a lot to answer for and the state equally so for allowing them to get into and to remain for so long in such a pivotal role in day to day life, even as they became more and more irrelevant.
    I’m an atheist and I have often said that if I were forced to pick a Christian faith I’d take the church of Ireland over RCC any day because at least, as a woman, I am not a second class citizen. That view went down well with my x husband’s crazily religious republican family…. ;)
    That aside, what was done here and what was allowed to be done by the state and by every man and woman of that time who turned a blind eye, politician or not, was a disgrace. I like this lady but using this to single out FF and FG is a bit cheap to my mind. I agree with everything she says but that bit did irritate me a little….
    Her party didn’t exist then and if it had, it probably would have been just as bad and Joe and Mary of today are not responsible for what their granny and granddad did. “Sins of the fathers” and all that….. most of us don’t question the status quo and today there are things happening that in years’ time will be seen to be appalling and people will ask, “how could this happen”? This horrific situation is a reminder that you shouldn’t always accept what you are told (as Catherine plainly doesn’t!!) and that you should always try not to lose sight of basic morality and human kindness. And for those two things you don’t need a religion to have those. My experience has been that having a religion has many times been a handicap to mastering those values….

    1. postmanpat

      X husband crazy religious and republican eh? We all knew dudes like that growing up. I had this one friend in school who was a minister of the eucharist and went through a phase of republican songs etc. We mostly ignored his rants. Turns out he was gay. and is now openly so. dropped the casual ‘Ra talk and church stuff when he got a boyfriend. The thing is, men are not religious generally. If they are, its usually because they are repressing something. He went on to work in TV (SKY and TV3) but when he started to work for RTE he had to pretend he was straight. RTE is weird place. Full of repressed types.

    2. Listrade

      “The Catholic church has a lot to answer for and the state equally so for allowing them to get into and to remain for so long in such a pivotal role in day to day life, even as they became more and more irrelevant.”

      See also cases of abuse and similar in Australia and America. It isn’t just an “Irish” thing as portrayed.

      The only thing I’d probably disagree with is that it isn’t just a religious thing either, its a human thing. We probably couldn’t have developed to live in large societies without some means of dealing with the cognitive dissonances that comes from have organised leadership (be it elected, hereditary or religious). Psychologically, atheists are and have been guilty of the same. Liberals the same. Conservatives the same.

      We are seeing the same thing in the Grace case. We’ve seen it in swimming and other sports. We’ve seen it in entertainment. We see kids going missing from HSE care. Suicide and deaths of kids in HSE care (not that many headlines though).

      The common denominator isn’t religion, it isn’t Ireland, it’s the State. In all cases the state has known and been aware of the abuse and has facilitated and even connived to keep it hidden.

      1. Sheik Yahbouti

        You forget, listrade. that we exported it to Canada and Australia. Have a look at who was running the show in those countries.

  9. Mourning Ireland

    Agreed. Time for RTE to cop on. And for the Bon Secours hospitals to be shut down,

    1. Increasing Displacement

      They just should be taken from them, not closed.
      All religious land should be seized post haste.
      Rented back to the cults that wish to use them.

    2. rotide

      What is your suggestion for what should replace the Bon Secours hospitals?

      And what has RTE got to do with this?

  10. Increasing Displacement

    “In 1995 when children playing on the site discovered skulls, it was not the police who were called for, it was a priest.”

    WHAT IN THE F&%K??????????????????

        1. anne

          Oh right yeah..she musta got the idea of scrapping that the minute you mentioned it.. not like she has to go along with that nonsense day in day out prior to your utterance on the matter.


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