The Wages of Spin


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From top: William Campbell; Terry Prone; Sr Marie Ryan of the Bon Secours order

Here’s How the current affairs podcast presented by journalist William Campbell addresses the media and Tuam.

William writes:

Did the country leader of the Sisters of Bon Secours-Ireland, Sr Marie Ryan organise a campaign of lies and media manipulation in an attempt to distract from the story of the Tuam babies? The latest edition of the Here’s How podcast investigates…

Includes interview with Brendan O’Neill, author of this morning’s criticism of reaction to Tuam.

Listen here

here’s How

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9 thoughts on “The Wages of Spin

  1. EightersGonnaEight

    Seriously – Brendan O’Neill cannot even pronounce “Tuam”? Obviously well informed.

  2. EightersGonnaEight

    Other articles by O’Neill:

    Two cheers for Theresa May
    Obama is not your ‘magical negro’
    The Western media: the propaganda wing of al-Qaeda?
    The fight for Brexit is a fight for democracy
    Pamela Anderson is right: there’s too much porn

    The latter discusses the rise of the vvwankers. Indeed. he’d know.


  3. EightersGonnaEight

    This is ONE GREAT Podcast. It hits hard. And this is one Podcast the needs to be sent to Rosita Boland in the Irish Times.

    Block away.

    1. Andy

      Actually I thought is was pretty crap and I normally like most of William’s podcasts.

      He kind of proves the english guys point. William clearly comes at the podcast with a bias and tries to undermine the guys article – on numerous occasions implying the english lad wrote his article on foot of a request from vested interests.

      William’s infant mortality statistics are true however they could be more accurately described as truthy .

      While he cites Irelands infant mortality rates during the period he fails to point out the differences in prevailing infant mortality rates between urban and rural areas.

      Infant mortality in urban centers was much higher than in rural areas in the period 1900-1940. The reason for this is proximity. Disease & viruses spread much faster & wider in high density neighborhoods.

      A more accurate comparison of mortality rates would be to compare the infant mortality rates in the Mother & Baby homes with those of tenements in Dublin’s inner city. While I assume the rate would be much higher in the Tuam baby home (a much more dense population), it would not be anywhere near the order of magnitude William attempts to portray.

      Google it.

      1. William Campbell

        Thanks for the feedback.

        I realise that the comparison isn’t entirely valid, but my point was that the hand-waving spin of some journalists that ‘Shur it was just as bad outside the homes as inside’ is total nonsense; also, the death rate was so high as to have skewed the national figures. The national infant mortality figure of 66 in the 1940s _includes the deaths in the religious institutions_, so the true comparison would have been far more stark.

        Also, high death rates in Dublin tenaments are no excuse for the criminal behaviour in the religious institutions, and even if they were, those mothers came from the surrounding counties, not from Dublin, and if you are saying that the death rate in those counties was lower again (reasonable asumption) then that makes the comparison even more stark.

        1. Andy

          Hi William,

          I think you’re conflating a number of items here.

          1. How bad were living conditions in the rest of Ireland at the time? It was pretty crap relative to today’s standards as evidenced by overall child & maternal mortality rates, life expectancy levels, subsistence levels etc. As you clarified, Ireland was a 3rd world country at the time. How bad was living conditions in these homes? Horrendous. Much worse than life in these homes. However, it does not detract from the fact that Ireland as a whole in the 1930’s & 1940’s was a terrible place. Period.

          2. What are the appropriate mortality rates to compare these institutional homes to? As explained in my post above, you need to compare infant mortality rates in the homes with those of children in similar environments. At the time, outside of other institutions, the only mildly comparable example would be inner city tenements. Not neighboring counties or suburban areas.

          3. You really seem to be missing the point about an accurate mortality comparisons. The county has nothing to do with it. The immediate environment is the major factor in how disease and infections can spread. Outside of other Mother & Baby homes, densely populated tenements in inner-cities are the closest comparison to bench mark the Tuam home against.
          You site the national figure as 66 for the 1940’s however this ignores the distribution of infant mortality rates during that decade which peaked in 1943 at over 80 before falling rapidly from 66 in 1946 to 50 by 1950 (improved sanitation, possibly the 1947 Health Act & wider availability of medical help). The number of deaths in Tuam also fell after 1947.

          Furthermore, the National Average ignores the fact that there was a clear different (known as the Urban Penalty) which meant Urban infant mortality rates were higher than Rural areas. As explained above that was due to population density & the ability for disease to spread. In 1943 the urban infant mortality rate was 95 compared to only 65 for rural areas. A 250 (25%) rate in the Tuam home would equate to approx 2.5x that of the urban area and 3.8x the national average. Given the urban rate is comprised of both less dense suburban areas and dense inner cities the rate for tenements was likely much higher. So it is reasonable to argue that the Tuam homes death rate was less than 2.5x that prevailing in inner city Dublin.

          4. You seem to suggest that the death rates in these institutions would have a significant impact on overall infant mortality rates? Tuam in aggregate over 35 years generated 796 deaths (23 per year) with a peak of 50 in 1943. In 1943 there were 64,000 live births. Tuam’s contribution the infant mortality rate would be less than 1 in 1000. So no, it wouldn’t have had a material impact on overall child mortality rates during the period.

          4. “high death rates in Dublin tenements are no excuse for the criminal behaviour in the religious institutions”. This is the very issue that English lad was highlighting. Where are you getting this criminal behavior from? There hasn’t even been a inquiry in this yet you are jumping onto the band wagon and deciding who is to blame for this. Why not wait till the report is complete before making sweeping unsubstantiated claims.

          My personal hypothesis is, the above average mortality rate was driven by:
          1. So many babies corralled into one place,
          2. Disease outbreaks spreading fast,
          3. An insufficient number of carers/nuns,
          4. Medical ignorance or incompetence,
          5. Insufficient resources

          However, I may very well be proven wrong. But I’m happy to wait for the report to be completed.

          1. Andy


            “How bad was living conditions in these homes? Horrendous. Much worse than life OUTSIDE these homes.”

            Other typos….meh

Comments are closed.

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