THE HORROR OF TUAM
Written for Irish Socialist Worker.
Murder by neglect; religious bigotry; vicious class prejudice - these are the ingredients that lie behind the horrible crimes of Tuam.
Nobody now will dare to defend what was done. The ‘casual’ or was it ‘routine’ disposal of dead infants in a septic tank. – utterly indefensible – and as we know this is only the tip of the iceberg. How many other baby and child remains lie out there undiscovered? Probably many thousands.
But the questions our rulers won’t ask and won’t want answering is why this happened – why it was allowed to happen and why it was covered up.
The death rate of infants at the Bon Secours home was one a fortnight! Up to 800 in total. How was that possible? How was it tolerated?
The short answer to these questions is that the Church and the State colluded to allow it to happen and to cover it up - for decades! And the hierarchy of the Church and the hierarchy of the State are two wings of the class who have ruled this state since the defeat of the Irish Revolution in the Civil War. That is the class of bosses and bankers, land owners and landlords, developers and speculators .
And both these wings, personified then by Eamonn De Valera and Archbishop John McQuaid, saw in each other support for keeping the mass of people, the ‘sinful’ ‘dangerous’ people under control.
The people were dangerous and had to be kept in order because they were born in original sin. They were born in original sin because Adam was tempted by the wicked Eve who was tempted by Satan. And what was the temptation? It was sex – the forbidden fruit of carnal knowledge. It all fitted together.
So unmarried mothers were doubly sinful – symbols of wanton out of control lust. They had to be shamed and hidden away. And their ‘illegitimate’ babies were products of the double sin and would have to have their sin beaten or starved out of them.
And if they were working class and poor, as they were? Well that was probably because they were especially lazy and sinful. And besides it meant they would not have powerful relatives or friends able to make a fuss or ask awkward questions. So dispose of them in septic tanks and no one will find out or care.
This was the ideology and the mindset that brought us Tuam and the Magdalene Laundries, and the Christian Brothers and the Industrial Schools and the bans on contraception, divorce and abortion.
But isn’t this all a long time ago – part of the old
died with McQuaid and Dev, or at least with the great marriage equality
referendum. No! The political and social heirs of these people still run Ireland behind
the scenes. These are the same people who have the nerve to lecture us about
abortion and fight tooth and nail to deny women the right to choose. The same
people who smeared Sgt McCabe and covered it up.
And crucially they are the same people who rushed to bail out the bankers, and collude with Apple not paying their taxes while letting the homeless rot on the street and the sick linger on trolleys.
Bon Secours, who ran the Tuam home, are now, as they boast on their website,’ the largest independent [private] hospital group in Ireland with over 2000 staff and 350 leading consultants’, catering for the rich while the health service is in crisis.
What should be done? There needs to be posthumous justice of some kind for the victims and for their families and the guilty should be held to account. But we also have to draw general conclusions because this crime was part of a general culture. Several things are obvious:
End the church’s control of education. How can the institution that brought us TUAM, the Magdalene laundries, the industrial schools and mass sexual abuse of children possibly run our schools?
Repeal the 8th Amendment now. ‘Pro-life that’s a lie! They don’t care if women or children die!’
To the Church we say; get out of our schools, get out of our hospitals get out of our wombs. Just go! And take your political friends and protectors with you!