‘Scholarly And Profound’



Dáil Eireann at the Convention Centre.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly (above) returned to the Mother and Baby Home report.

Deputy Connolly addressed statements on RTÉ Radio One from former President Mary McAleese (top) that the report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was ‘scholarly and profound’ and had “tremendous compassion”.

Catherine Connolly said:

“This is my second time to take part in this debate. My anger has increased, as has my sense of despondency. Once again, I will take courage in my hand, with my privileged position and decent salary, and speak up. If the Minister wants to put the survivors – I hate that word, but I will use it because they have used it themselves – to the fore, he might explain how there was a leak. He has had time to investigate.

He might explain why the survivors have not got copies of the full report yet. He might explain why Deputies did not have copies of the executive summary last week when they spoke in the Dáil. Does he think he could do that? These explanations were not included in his speech.

He might confirm that those who had the courage to go before the commission and the confidential committee will be given copies of their full testimonies. Could he do that? It would be a start. He might publish the report of the collaborative forum, which he mentioned in his speech. God help us, but he also mentioned that he would set up a new interdepartmental committee. Lord protect us from interdepartmental committees. He will also engage with the collaborative forum. Its recommendations were published in April 2019 but not its report.

Perhaps he might balance the power between an interdepartmental committee with no representation by a collaborative forum or survivors and the collaborative forum and the people on the ground. He might confirm that he will make full copies of the commission’s report available to all of us who want them, beginning with the survivors. He might explain how half of the €23 million that was allocated was used last October, although not to print a single copy. He might say that the Government made a mistake in having a webinar without giving out the report in the first place.

Enough on that for the moment and I will now turn to the report. The report refers to all of society. For a change, I will quote a philosopher rather than a poet. When one attributes blame in that manner, one has no responsibility. I touched on this point last week. I will cite Dr. Hannah Arendt, who was speaking in a different context but whose words are equally applicable to this report. According to her, the person who says that we are all guilty, as was the case in Germany, is unknowingly covering up for the ones who did it.

That is why we should not generalise guilt because doing so would be to cover up for the guilty. I do not believe that this finding has been laid out in the report unknowingly. I will bow down to anyone who has read its 3,000 pages – it is not possible. I have spent hours spending 500 to 600 pages. I have read the whole executive summary and what I was given by the Department.

I have read the chapter on Tuam, the statistical analysis of Tuam, the chapter on discrimination and the chapter on vaccines, to which I hope I will have time to return. I glanced at a few other chapters. All of this has taken hours and hours.

The Minister gave his speech, some of which I welcome in terms of the specifics for urgent legislation and access to records, including birth certificates, which is a basic human right. We did not need a report to tell us that, but I welcome it anyway.

However, when the Minister follows other recommendations without even listening to the people on the ground who have not had a chance to read the report, then he is doing exactly what was done to these mothers and children before, in that he is patronising them and carrying on a patriarchal mode.

Let us halt that for a minute and do what the Government should do, that is, legislate and provide access to records. It should set up an archive and so on, but bear in mind that the National Archives have been under-resourced for years. Is the Minister now making a distinction between the 18 institutions in question and the other institutions where mothers and babies were kept?

The report tells us that it is unrepresentative because it has only taken a sample. That is good. This point should have guided the conclusions, but the commission seems not to have followed it. As such, we have an unrepresentative sample and the report makes strong conclusions that are at odds with witness testimony.

The report then adds insult to injury on page 12, which shows a beautiful picture in autumnal colours, but all colour disappears quickly when one reads the witness testimony. That testimony jumps off the page – sexual abuse, rape, babies taken and an absence of any sense of understanding of the bond between mother and child.

This testimony should be preserved and acted upon, but the conclusions were that there was no evidence of forced adoption – I could not possibly accept this – and no evidence of pressure to put people into mother and baby homes.

[Fianna Fáil] Deputy Jim O’Callaghan reinforced the myth that society was responsible. It was not society, but the powerful in society, led by the church. I am not here to scapegoat nuns because the nuns reported to the bishop, who reported to the archbishop, who reported to Rome. What did our Governments do? They bowed down in deference. The Minister mentioned what our local authorities did. The county managers played a powerful role.

All of this has been set out in the report, but we are then told that the evidence from some of those who came forward – only residents, mind you – is “contaminated”. Sin an bhfocal – “truaillithe”. Imagine telling people who had the courage to come forward that some gave evidence that was contaminated. How many is “some”? In what way was their evidence contaminated?

Equally, was the same measuring stick used for the professionals that came before the commission? I refer to the doctors, priests, nuns, social workers and the witnesses from the county councils? The reason it was contaminated was because the former residents spoke to each other. Presumably, the nuns and the county managers did also, but their evidence was not contaminated.

I am not sure if the Minister read it. I am openly telling him that I have not read the report’s 3,000 pages. Our former President [Mary McAleese] tells us that she read it, and as a result of reading it she tells us it is scholarly and profound.

With the greatest of respect, I fundamentally disagree that this is scholarly and profound. If somebody has read 3,000 pages then he or she must have had the report before the Minister published it.

We will again look at the conclusions. There is a conclusion regarding vaccine trials. [Fine Gael] Deputy Naughten went through this forensically today. I have read that chapter. There is a paragraph in the summary that tells us that the trials did not comply with the regulations or the law at the time but, magically, there were no ill effects.

If one reads the chapter on the vaccine trials, one sees children getting sick with diarrhoea, convulsions and so on, not to mention the 10,000 deaths at a minimum, yet this commission of three people tell us there were no side effects.

They do not even pose a question on whether there could have been side effects or if more money changed hands. It was pointed out that it went to the doctors. Did more money change hands? What about the other trials? We only looked at seven institutions. Were there trials in other institutions? Does the Minister think the commissioners might have raised a question in regard to that?

Will the Minister indicate whether any of the three commissioners sat and listened to the 500 or so residents who came before the confidential committee? I know there was a tiny overlap of fewer than 100 between some residents who went to both. Did the commissioners sit in? This reminds me of paint-by-numbers pictures. Does the Minister remember that? One was allowed a little discretion in what colour one put into the number, but the picture was predetermined.

The picture was predetermined here because on page 2 the commissioners tell us that it might disappoint somebody that they are going against the prevailing narrative. That is to add insult on top of injury because they confirm the prevailing narrative of the powerful, which is that all of society was to blame.

They add insult to injury by even twisting language. The Minister has a golden opportunity to lead and to bring about transformative action and language. I will back him every step of the way, but he has got to lead. He must break away from the four and a half pages that he delivered here today, which is more of the same.”

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Video via Mick Caul

Tuesday: Eamonn Kelly: One Voise Raised In Anger

Last week: Hollow Applause


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23 thoughts on “‘Scholarly And Profound’

  1. Tarfton Clax

    Powerful, incisive, truthful, heartfelt, compassionate and forensic. So I am guessing it will be ignored completely.

    1. Liam Deliverance

      I hope not Tarfton, I can’t remember a TD of such high caliber than Catherine Connolly, she sets the bar for how all TD’s should be and to dismiss her work and contribution would be a missed opportunity. Politicians of this standard do not come around very often so she must be supported and hopefully this inspires others to also raise their standards.


      Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

      Dublin West

    1. dan

      That report was a total whitewash. McAleese (Mrs & Mr) must have some serious skin in the game with the God Squad

  2. joe

    Excellent to see this rancid non report and it’s vile delivery boy, Roderic O’Gorman a gimp of FF/FG being eviscerated by Catherine. There must be a review of the report and the sooner FFFGGP are dumped from office the better!

  3. Specific Gravity

    Wonderful public representative. We would be well served by far more of the calibre of Ms Connolly.

  4. VAnon ™

    Mary McAleese

    a ‘wan who changes her tune to what ever the crowd dangling the carrot want to hear

    She’s a speaker for hire
    A cheap cabaret act that is only interested in entertaining herself and her own

    She makes Mary Robinson look not so bad, that’s how fúcked up this McAleese touring performing troupe really are

    An opportunist that is no different to a starving snake out in the wilds, a carnivore who will pounce on anything at all for a bite

    1. Dr.Fart

      its crazy to think how noble both Marys seemed back in the day. I cant remember what Mary Robinson did to dirty her bib, when you mentioned it there it jogged my memory slightly, but can’t recall. Would you mind telling me please?

      1. yupyup

        The Princess Latifa thing for starters….
        The controversy surrounding the sale of her home in Mayo to the CoCo.

        1. VAnon ™

          They’re afterwards stuff for me

          The day she was sworn in
          She made an Oath
          that she reneged the moment another higher profile gig dropped unto her lap
          A gig she might have already been canvassing for before hand
          t’was no fluke anyway

          She didn’t even have the decency to wait out those last few months to finish her term
          She used the Áras as a stepping stone – fair enough, loads of lads before her used is as a retirement package since it was pre-benchmarking and ridiculous salaries

          But effing off to suit herself showed there and then what Mary Robinson was really about
          So acting the maggot with selling Memorabilia n’ stuff off
          or donating possessions for tax relief
          Privatising Peace and Goodwill and Advocacy – for fees I doubt resemble your average lawyer/ lecturer billable rate
          Are all business activities for the sole benefit of the good family Robinson trusts n’ Charitable Status
          So if she’s all about truth, then be honest about that and stop disguising it as Missions of Truth and Peace Making and Empowerment for Women
          Or who’ever hires her wants her to say she’s there for

          I don’t have a problem in making a few bob, and getting paid as much as you can for yourself btw
          Shur I do that meself

          Mary Robinson has made a career out being all about truth – so why doesn’t she be all about that now
          She’s making a very good living and nest egg for herself and the family
          And fair play to her
          Just don’t try and hide it under Peace Making and Charitable Good Works

          As my Nana Lulu said about her when she was elected
          T’was far from a Union Hall she was rared

          a good clue to what happened to the Labour Party and where is started to go wrong now that I think about it

          1. Dr.Fart

            Thanks so much for that, Vanessa! And yep, it certainly sounds very Irish, her manoeuvres. Pegging it under the banner of charity is additionally very sly alright. I wonder what kind of skin McAleese has in the game that she was trumpeting the dire report so hard on the news. Shocking stuff. Surely she could take a read of the general reaction to it and see that its not a good position to take on it. Must be enough money to buy off any morals anyway.

    2. gringo

      No need to be insulting snakes. I used to keep them onetime. They would never try to justify the slavery and debauchery the clergy and professional classes engaged in for the sake of a few bob.Well, a lot of bobs actually. Which is why they are fighting tooth and nail to hang on to the millions they have stashed away, not to mention all that lovely property they own. McAleese has been sent out to bat for them, while the other curs hide, hoping the storm will blow over soon.

      1. VAnon ™

        Ah jaysus NO

        Snakes are my freak out thing
        every shape n’ size, so are eels

        Can’t manage the shudder n’ cringe at all

        Back in the early Broadssheet days they hosted a clip of an albino boa house pet who could open doors
        the creak of the door and that thud still gives me the shakes

        Mind you – Snakes on a Plane is the perfect Friday night end of the week telly – when you’re a bit giddy like
        []~( ̄▽ ̄)~*

  5. dan

    The report is horrific, not scholarly

    It’s full of assumptions (all to the benefit of the managers of these Institutions), for example they state several times that different Interviewees were not part of vaccination trials, yet they also state that Glaxo Laboratories’s Vaccination documentation was quite sparse, so no evidence either way yet the Interviewee was not believed by the Commission.

    And it’s not just the nuns.
    When the Laffoy commission wanted to interview 87 year old Prof Meenan abut his vaccination trials in the homes, Chief Justice Ronan Keane (who’s still alive) said without any evidence either way:
    “the vaccine trials appeared to have “only the most tenuous connection, if any”, with the abuse of children in institutions,”
    So even in 2003 the cover up continued.

    Finally, the phrase “It seems” is used 113 times in the report, this shows a high degree of assumptions being made ( It seems likely, but it is not possible to establish)

    Very scholarly

  6. These "Commissioners" make a mockery of Human Rights

    The great Irish cover-up! Nothing new. McAleese is an absolute disgrace.

    This Report should be burned – no lawyer of any calibre has anything positive to say about it.

    What does this tell us about the so-called “Commissioners”?
    These are the very people who are up to their necks in covering up these horrific crimes.
    All three of them should be hauled before the European Court – they sully the very notion of truth and of Justice.

  7. These "Commissioners" make a mockery of Human Rights

    And Mary McAleese’s husband – a dentist and a former accountant – are these qualifications for Chairing an investigating “commission” on human rights abuses? ( My, my… hoow the Irish excel at cover-ups ! ), another Report which denied human rights abuses meted out to Magdalene Laundry survivors – in the widely condemned McAleese Report.

    There’s a whole establishment engaged in Ireland’s coverup – Deep State Ireland – and it’s been active for decades.

    Mary McAleese wants to blame only the Church – well, McAleese, it’s the dirty little STATE of Ireland which utilised the apparatus of the Church to carry out its crimes – the most serious in the book – of incarcerating women and girls, separating them from their children, and then trafficking or abusing (to end in death) their children. These crimes are top of the list of human rights abuses.

    Welcome to Ireland, folks… where the fudging and cover-up and denial machine is in full flow.

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