Ciaran Tierney: Compounding The Injustice Of Tuam


From top: Anne Rabbitte; Katherine Zappone and Sr Marie Ryan; Ciaran Tierney

Why bother writing about the struggle for justice of those who were treated so appallingly by the Irish State?

Why not move on?

Why bother going to events organised by the families and survivors of the “Tuam Babies” when many media outlets don’t bother?

Why spend an hour or two with them on a Sunday afternoon when a news editor shrugs and proclaims, “Arragh, sure, didn’t we cover that event last year?”

(Even though they didn’t – as you can remember how few journalists there were among the small number of people who congregated in that lonely graveyard 12 months ago).

One of the most striking aspects of the scandal of the 796 ‘Tuam Babies’ is the widespread belief among survivors and family members that “official Ireland” has no interest in granting them the truth and justice they crave.

And the story of Tuam is replicated for the survivors and children of those who were incarcerated in dozens of other institutions all across the island of Ireland.

In Tuam, business people express regret that the scandal unearthed by local historian Catherine Corless has damaged the image or reputation of the town.

They have made it known to her, via third parties, that they wish she would have left well enough alone.

It’s not good for business, you see, to be the subject of scandalous headlines from San Francisco to Sydney when the economy is in “recovery” and there’s money to be made.

People whisper to Catherine on the street when they talk about “the home”, and she can sense shame, fear, or guilt in their voices when they approach her to applaud her for the research which has made headlines across the globe.

Only for her determination, the story might never have been known.

When it comes to the victims, though, the perception in some quarters is that these people are getting old now and it’s time to move on.

Forget about the fact that the mortality rate in the Tuam Home – where up to 796 babies may or may not be buried in a cesspit – was five times that of the general Irish population or that 126 of the 796 babies died within the first six months of life.

Forget about the fact that 35,000 women and girls were locked up in Mother and Baby Homes between 1904 and 1996 – hardly ancient history – and that those who are still living have never received a proper apology for how they were imprisoned for their “crimes”.

Or that some of them were asked to produce time sheets for the hours they worked in laundries where they were imprisoned and forced to work as slaves, with the collusion of the state, by cruel and judgemental nuns.

Forget about the fact that some older people still know what went on in these institutions, but are too afraid or too ashamed to come forward.

Or that a local councillor in Tuam, Cllr Donagh Killilea, has berated the current Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone TD, for daring to suggest that people with some memory of what happened should come forward with information, even at this late stage.

He’s offended by the idea that anyone in the town might still know why these bodies were discarded or disposed of in such a heartless fashion.

Forget about the fact that the Bon Secours nuns, in their infinite wisdom, hired a prominent PR person and paid her handsomely when the scandal of the “Tuam Babies” first broke in the Irish media.

“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,” wrote Terry Prone, still the Goddess in Chief of “communications” for “official Ireland”.

And still she coaches or grooms our richest and most powerful politicians in terms of how to deal with our media.

And still she hasn’t apologised to the families for the hurt she has caused.

Forget about the fact that the Bon Secours nuns run private hospitals for a handsome profit and have never dealt directly with the families of their victims.

Forget that the pain of the survivors was compounded by a Fianna Fail TD, Anne Rabbitte, when she stated that the estimated €13 million cost of excavating the site of the “Tuam Babies” home could not be justified when it could be spent on the children of today.

It’s a wilful waste of public money that could be spent on the children of today,” Deputy Rabbitte told The Sunday Business Post last weekend.

The FF spokesperson on children, who is running for the European Parliament this month, seemed to have little concept of the anger these remarks would ignite among survivors and family members who are finding it so hard to obtain the truth from “official Ireland”.

For them, the story of the “Tuam Babies” is very much alive.

Bad enough to discover only in your 70s that you had a brother or sister you never heard about, only to find it next to impossible to find out what happened to them.

Forget about the fact that Ms Rabbitte’s party, Fianna Fail, was in power for most of the lifespan of the Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries, when a harsh and judgmental Irish State asked religious orders to imprison and enslave thousands of Ireland’s most vulnerable women.

Let’s just forget that these poor women were locked up with the full knowledge of both the Irish State and their own families.

Or that the fathers of these children could get on with their lives while the mothers spent decades washing the dirty laundry of the elite of Irish society.

Peter Mulryan, Chairman of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network, contrasts the reverence of the Bon Secours nuns for their own members, removing their bodies from the Grove private hospital before being re-interred with dignity, with how callously the bodies of up to 796 babies and children were discarded at the home.

They sold the building for €4.1 million in 2001 but, as so many survivors have discovered, religious institutions in Ireland have no interest in compensating victims and their families for the terrible times they put them through.

Mr Mulryan claims the “full horror” of what happened in Tuam has yet to be exposed.

Forget about the fact that survivors and family members, including Peter and Dublin woman Anna Corrigan, have no idea what happened to their siblings.

They still believe, rightly or wrongly, that their brothers and sisters could have been adopted (illegally) by families in the United States and cannot be persuaded otherwise until they have some proof of what happened to these children and babies.

Criminal acts were carried out to their family members and now they feel that there can be no closure to this terrible story until the full truth of what happened to the “Tuam Babies” is revealed to the world.

If the families believe that this can only be achieved through a full Inquest, isn’t it time “official Ireland” gives them the truth and the justice they have been calling out for?

Otherwise, we are compounding a terrible injustice and we are still betraying the dead children of Tuam (and their mothers and surviving family members) in the much more “enlightened” Ireland of 2019.

Compounding the injustice of Tuam (Ciaran Tierney)

5 thoughts on “Ciaran Tierney: Compounding The Injustice Of Tuam

  1. Johnny

    Terrific piece Ciaran,really well done,I’m not an expert on this but given that NY recently extended the statute of limitations for childhood abuse and with all the rumors/suggestions of a “USA’’ connection,why don’t the survivors bring a class action suit in NY/USA.They have lots assets here and quite a lot case law,I know quite a few prestigious law firms that do pro bono for civil justice.
    Here is a recent documentary and a piece on a ‘priest hunter’ lawyer, just one example,victim receives 2.5 million.

    ‘Instead, he hired Rob Talach, a lawyer based in London, Ont. — known as “the priest hunter” — and insisted on his day in court.

    This legal case is the subject of a film called Prey, which premieres this month at Hot Docs, Canada’s largest documentary film festival‘

    Really great work Ciaran.

  2. postmanpat

    I hope people who still go to church (ie.: Most culches and ah-jazus Dubs & parent who still baptize their kids (most people because they are still sheep still in this pathetic pious country) , realize that a huge percentage of money that goes into the collection basket goes towards the RCC legal defense fund. Its doesn’t go into fixing the church steeple or the organ so don’t be so clueless. The money helps lawyers protect pedophile priests and the church’s assets which are in the billions. If you put money in the basket you are actively funding an international pedophile ring. You wont go to heaven or hell because the afterlife doesn’t exist. I can 100 percent guarantee that. So just stop. Jesus was a literary construct based on a Hebrew prophesy which was written by mad men. Christianity isn’t real. God does not exist. Religious people of all faiths are stupid idiots that are okay with every single form of child abuse. In the RCC’s case that abuse consists of child buggery and murder in 2019. These same idiots are calling for the secular government to pay 100% of the reparations while they go attend the kids communions in the coming weeks and throw even more money towards the same organization that still carries out child rape and murder throughout the lesser reported world this very minute. The government shouldn’t have to pay anything towards the victims . The government need money to run the country. Stealing from the public shouldn’t be tolerated or entertained for a second. We are a secular country by constitution, we shouldn’t have to pay a penny. The RCC has infinite $$$$$$ so they can pay for the abuse . The future of the kids in this country shouldn’t be but in jeopardy because the government cant provide public services because they are paying for legacy abuse victims instead. If the RCC don’t pay. it is the governments job to seize and sell church property. But you have the general populous who wont be okay with that because …..Jesus (again not a real person and never was you stupid Idiots) If the abuse victims are sore they need to lobby the high king of the pedos in Rome for there cash compo and pressure the government to help them. Do they even care where the money comes from? If I was anally raped by a priest I would want the compo exclusively from the RCC , not out of public funds. Its stealing from the public plain and simple and its not right.

  3. Bald Archie

    “You wont go to heaven or hell because the afterlife doesn’t exist. I can 100 percent guarantee that”

    No you can’t.

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