Religious Orders Not So Different from Bankers

The Magdalene survivors are to be paid something by the State to compensate them for their time imprisoned and enslaved by the religious orders.  This is only right and proper, although not everyone agrees that the amount offered is fair.  Some survivor groups have accepted the offer and others have rejected it, but at least it’s an offer on the table, with a scale of compensation set out clearly, based on the period of incarceration.

And yet, it’s hard not to ignore the strange parallel between the attitudes of the religious orders and the behaviour of the clowns in Anglo-Irish bank

Anyone who followed the appalling meat grinder that was the Residential Institutions Redress Board will be relieved.  Nobody – especially not a person rendered vulnerable and inarticulate by abuse – should have to appear before a board of stern examiners, as happened with the RIRB.  The examination process was cold, analytical, inquisitorial and deeply intimidating to people who had, at best, a limited education.  For many, it compounded the suffering inflicted in the industrial schools.  As if that wasn’t enough, even though the survivors were represented legally at public expense, many lawyers subsequently hit them with additional legal bills despite having been paid already.

The offer applies to about 600 women and the scale of payment ranges from €11,500 for people incarcerated for three months to €20,500 for one year, €68,500 for five years to a maximum of €100,000 for anyone imprisoned for ten years or more.  I hope this is a sliding scale and not a stepped scale, to avoid bureaucratic injustices where a woman locked up for nine years and eleven months is denied the full payment.  This is not a vague remote possibility.  This kind of thing happens all the time due to the narrow vision of the typical Irish administrator.

Of course, as is normal, the religious orders are complaining about being asked to pay their share, just as they did when asked to pay a minuscule proportion of the compensation arising from the Ryan report.  Of the €1.4 billion final outcome, the taxpayer has so far carried almost the entire cost.  In their own defence, the nuns are saying that they still pay for 100 women in their care.  Or to put it another way, they continue to feed their slaves in old age, which is very Christian indeed.  It will be very surprising if they contribute a penny to the State’s costs, because these are not people who believe in contributing.

It’s only right that the Magdalene women should be offered full health care and a minimum weekly income before reaching pension age, but yet, here we go again.  The State is carrying the full cost — and here, I should point out that the amount is trivial compared to the scale of the scam inflicted on us by the Anglo spivs.  The total lump-sum cost of compensating the Magdalene survivors will come to about €30 million.  Even if we included the €1.4 billion spent on the redress board, the total comes to a figure less than one twentieth of the hardship inflicted on the citizens by Anglo and Irish Nationwide.

So let’s get things in context, and let’s also remember that these women are far more deserving of compensation than the bondholders of failed banks who couldn’t believe their luck when Lenihan announced his ill-conceived bailout of gamblers and hedge funds.

The bankers, the priests and the nuns, behind all the superficial differences, share a similar mindset.  They share a belief that the Irish State owes them something.  They share a belief that they are above the civil law, and most of all, they share a belief, which was subsequently shown to be correct, they they would never have to pay anything back.   And let’s not forget that the bankers formed a sort of priestly brotherhood whose expertise, we now know, was not based on any kind of scientifically-confirmed knowledge, but, in their own words, picked out of their arses.  Much like religion, in other words.

For different, and yet strangely similar reasons, the State found it necessary to step in and cover the damage caused by these two very different, and yet very similar,  societal groups.  It’s no accident that bankers and priests were on the list of people of impeccable probity who could sign an official document on your behalf.   How times change.

There’s no escaping the question: do we Irish have a disastrous failing that leads us to believe every chancer, wide-boy and bunco-artist who sets himself up as an authority in some fake doctrine, whether it happens to be religion or banking?

And as a corollary, why don’t we as a nation force the perpetrators to carry the consequences of their actions?   There are very few clerics in jail and even fewer bankers.


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19 thoughts on “Religious Orders Not So Different from Bankers

  1. I’ll keep this short. This parallel is something I failed to spot before. Well done Bock, excellent and entirely correct.

  2. I agree with you that the I should pay compensation to these women via the state through my taxes and also through my church through contributions, however why is the role that these womens own families played in having them locked up ignored ? why are they not entitled to claim off some of the fine farms, and family business they were thrown out of, remember these women were got rid of by family for convenience in most cases, I personally know of one girl aged 17 who was placed in convent by her parents in 1953, her father was a bank manager, and it would seem that this girls crime was that she was bi polar

  3. While some women were disposed of by their families I’m not aware of any evidence that they were in the majority, or that most of the families were wealthy. Do you have research on that?

  4. “The bankers, the priests and the nuns, behind all the superficial differences, share a similar mindset. ”

    Spot on. Its a sadistic psychopathic mentality whereby they believe they have a god given right to do whatever they wish to other people- kind people are easy prey.

    Most Irish people cannot fathom this mentality because we do not think like that- so we must now learn not to judge these people by our standards.

    They are pathological and Thomas Sheridan explains it all so well.

  5. Well Bock, either these women were found under a cabbage, kidnapped from their families or were locked up with the collusion of their families.
    Just out of curiosity where should these unfortunate women have been cared for, what other alternatives was the state providing for their care, Keeping in mind the mindset of the times that were,
    Also remember these laundries were initally set up to provide work and a place of shelter for destitute women, it was the state with the cooperation of religious orders who started dumping women (some with criminal records) into these institutions.
    In case anyone thinks I am justifying the treatment that was meted out to these women I am not.
    But in 2013 this state still run prisons where prisoners still have to urinate and defecate in their cells and slop out every morning,
    I wonder what redress payments will have to be made to these people in 30 years time !!

  6. As an aside Bock.
    Do you believe that organised religion has had any positive impact in Ireland in the past 200 years?

  7. Organised religion brings comfort to some, which cannot be dismissed. It has also contributed to the education of many who otherwise received an education. It also abused many who would otherwise not have been abused. The CC then systematically covered up the abuse and denied it ever happened. You decide if one out weighs the other. I have.

  8. Bock,I agree that bankers attitudes and actions are similar to RCC.I think it is broader than just these two groups.Up to recently,solicitors,doctors,teachers,guards,TDs,councillors and others took it for granted that they had automatic authority over “lesser” citizens.This is the situation I grew up with.The recent penalty-points scandal shows how pervasive this attitude remains.It would appear that after achieving our independence from Britain,we allowed these homegrown petty tyrants to take control,particularlyin the minutiae of our private and personal lives.

  9. Mark,
    Please don’t insult “organised religion” by lumping it in with the Catholic church. I am sure many Buddhists, Zoroastrians and Hindus would not thank you for it. As I have said in the past Catholicism is one of many Christian sects. If has more in common with the temple and temple dwellers that Jesus was disgusted with in Christian scripture then with any organised religion.

  10. @ Mark you say in your post ‘I agree with you that the I [sic]should pay compensation to these women via the state through my taxes and also through my church through contributions, however why is the role that these womens own families played in having them locked up ignored ?’……’remember these women were got rid of by family for convenience in most cases’

    A cursory glance at the social history of the time reveals a dearth of knowledge relating to any form of mental illness [as is the case today if we are honest but that s a post for a different thread]. Families when presented with children with mental illness tended to go to the priest rather than the local GP [for they too were clueless] Children with bipolar and schizophrenia, due to being grossly and continuously misunderstood, often became violent and reckless in their behavior. They also often, as is the case with mental illness today, had co morbid conditions such as anxiety disorders and alcoholism that made it very difficult for them to to co habit. The need for love and understanding which was not found at home often ended with young teenage girls being taken advantage of and ultimately promiscuity ensued…. and as we all know when the walls have ears the walls can talk and in a country where sexuality was deemed sinful unless blessed by a priest those talking walls were too much for family’s to bear. These children were often spoken of as ‘being possessed’. the only place for them was with men and women of God and the Magdelene laundries and similar institutions were in a lot of cases tragically the answer. You are ill informed if you think these decisions by distraught parents were merely those of convenience.

  11. “No bank should be allowed to become so big that it can blackmail governments,” –Angela Merkel quoted in the Financial Times in 2009. This is precisely what happened to our country in 2008–Drummer swaggering down “Arms swinging” to poor old Patrick Neary–I’d say the sweat was dripping off the poor bastard when Drummer laid the ultimatum down. Same kind of behaviour as other bullies such as Charles McQuaid–the Church has bullied and blackmailed successive Governments since the foundation of the State–they are still trying it on.

    I think that there should be a regulation that any banker who turfs up at the Central Bank with an ultimatum that unless they get a bailout, the wheels will come off the wagon by morning–should be automatically be arrested and held for a minimum of 7 days; away from their family, lawyers etc to ensure they have sufficient time to “cooperate” fully with the authorities and reflect on their position. I think the prospect of a pair of handcuffs instead of a G&T and a laugh with their mates might have concentrated these parasites’ minds appropriately.

  12. If I am getting this right Tommy, you are saying that these were the socitial norms for that time,
    Would you also agree that many of these women were dumped into laundries where those involved in their care were as clueless as the families.
    Also lets be very honest here, Bock ran a brillant thread here a few weeks back on the attidude of the Irish towards land.
    many single women were dumped into theses laundries because the brother nephew and sometimes fathers wanted what was called a clear house to bring in a new woman.
    many of theses women were what would be deemed as slow mentally and un marrigable, (if there is such a word.)
    So I stick by my thread that the families and the state abdicated their responsability to these women.
    maybe we should also ask ourselves this question.
    As a society today are we treating women or men with mental health issues any better.

  13. It s clear what I’m saying in my post Mark…. The attitude towards mental illness at the time was based on ignorance of the forces behind the behavior of the individual s who suffered. Context is absolutely everything and in the Ireland that we speak of the church had a tragically powerful role in defining that context.

    ……..And no as a modern society I don t think we do enough for those with mental illness, just take a look at the slim pickings that go into mental health from state coffers each year for evidence.

  14. And so the two priests, Mark and Tommy, rode off into the sunset, confident in the knowledge that the church done the right thing at the time, in looking after these poor girls as best as they could. Shur werent the families they came from disfunctional and werent most of the girls mad in the first place.

    Never heard so much shit in my life. Ever!

  15. The Religious and The Bankers–I suppose both groups live by their own codes and practice a form of artistry in their own way—Con Artistry

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