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?