From top: Catherine Corless with Ray D’Arcy yesterday;; Terry Prone, of the Communications Clinic, on the Late Late Show in October
Historian Catherine Corless was interviewed on RTE Radio One’s Ray D’Arcy Show.
During the interview, Ms Corless – who discovered there are no burial records for 796 babies and toddlers who were recorded as having died at the home – said she rejected an apology made by the chair of the Communications Clinic Terry Prone on the Late Late Show in October.
Ms Prone made the apology because of an email she wrote to French journalist Saskia Weber after the Irish Daily Mail first published a story about the possibility of a mass grave at the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway in 2014.
In her email, Ms Prone – who was taking media queries on behalf of the Bon Secours nuns – told Ms Weber:
“If you come here, you’ll find no mass grave, no evidence that children were ever so buried, and a local police force casting their eyes to heaven and saying “Yeah, a few bones were found – but this was an area where Famine victims were buried. So?”
Ms Prone also told Ms Weber:
“If you’d like me to point you at a few reputable historians who might be good, I’ll certainly do that.”
Ms Corless’s interview on the Ray D’Arcy Show followed Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, on December 12, publishing a report from the Expert Technical Group which has been investigating the former Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.
In that report, the group outlined five options for the site of the former Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.
Readers should note the group’s full 232-page report also contains the line:
“The potential to identify individuals interred in Tuam is one that poses many challenges as has been identified in this report. It is an issue that has the potential to cause upset and potential damage to relations between the public, the Church and the Government.”
Ms Corless spoke about this line during her interview with Mr D’Arcy.
She also called for the number of skulls to be counted at the Tuam site to see if there are 796 skulls.
She said if there are fewer than 796, this may indicate that death certs were falsified to allow for illegal adoptions to take place – with children most likely sent to America.
From the interview…
Ray D’Arcy: “When you were in the last time with us, I think it was February 2015, I read to you the letter that Terry Prone had written on behalf of the Bon Secours nuns to a French documentary…”
Catherine Corless: “That’s right, that’s right.”
D’Arcy: “And it sort of poo-pooed the whole thing.
Corless: “Terry Prone did, she just really, she just made a mock of all the survivors and everything that I had brought out into the open. And it was very, very unprofessional of her at the time, I thought. And I just couldn’t believe it. It was very hurtful, it’s all I can say, to survivors.”
D’Arcy: “She did say, on the Late Late Show, when Ryan Tubridy put…”
Corless: “Well because she was put to the…a gun was put to her head, yeah.”
D’Arcy: “She said, ‘most shockingly, I should have contacted Catherine and said I’m really sorry. I believed, based on the evidence I had, that it was famine burials. And then, without looking to camera, but I think she was addressing you, ‘you were right and you were right to fight it through’. Has she rang you since?”
Corless: “Absolutely not, Ray. No I don’t take that as an apology at all because it was just a very curt, kind of her hands in the air again. It was almost the same, ‘so, I was wrong’. That’s the way I took it.”
D’Arcy: “Was that before or after you were on the Late Late?”
Corless: “It was after, oh it was yeah.”
D’Arcy: “Would you like her to ring you?”
Corless: “Absolutely, absolutely, just to see how she really feels about it: are they taking this seriously at all? Does she realise the impact it has on survivors, so many survivors. I think that’s the one thing Ray. Nobody’s taken, still, to this day, taken much notice of them, or listened to them. They don’t know the hurt they’re going through. And it’s impacting on their own families. And they don’t realise there’s so many of them.”
D’Arcy: “So that report from the Expert Technical Group. In it they say, because there was a lot more to it than just the five proposals as to how to treat the site. In it they say it’s ‘an issue that has the potential to cause upset and potential damage to relations between the public, the Church and the Government’.”
Corless: “That’s right, Ray. I would question, I would question the people who wrote that, what is that about? Are they telling us we can’t be going? We can’t be upsetting the Church again? Or the State? Or the Government? I would like a, I would like an explanation of that.”
D’Arcy: “I’ll have to read it again for them again, Catherine.”
Corless: “Do please.”
D’Arcy: “‘It’s an an issue that has the potential to cause upset and potential damage to relations between the public, the Church and the Government’. Now they’re not saying ‘don’t do it because..’, they’re just pointing out…”
Corless: “I know…that’s what I mean. When you read the five suggestions again. The words they’re using. ‘Disruptive’ and they’re using words that they shouldn’t use. They’re more or less, I have said, it’s bordering on propaganda, the way that, those five issues are pointed out.”
D’Arcy: “Because they’re sort of leading…”
Corless: “Leading, leading the witness, you could say. Absolutely. And of course the money is there upfront and the first column of all the suggestions and maybe €3m-€5m sounds terrible to people and I know what Galway County Council will be saying, ‘it’s taxpayers’ money, this, that and the other’, ‘we don’t need this’, ‘there’s hospitals…’, they’ll bring in all this…”
Listen back here in full
Read the Expert Technical Group’s full report here
Previously: Reputable History