If there was an outcry from Catholic groups about the mass burial of 800 babies in Tuam, news of it hasn’t penetrated as far as this little backwater.
David Quinn of the Iona Fringe Prayer Group has been remarkably silent on the issue, despite his usual eagerness to appear on TV if two dogs are caught copulating. Likewise, there hasn’t been a peep out of the Macaroonahoonarooney clan who built the Youth Defence franchise out of nothing, presumably because their campaign for the welfare of babies extends only to those not yet born. Every sperm is sacred, but apparently not every two-year-old, in the world of the Irish Catholic Right.
Why? The answer is simple enough. If you dominate women’s fertility, as the Catholic clergy did for decades, you control society. If you long to keep that control alive, as the extremists do, you’ll cling to the strategies that worked in the past and you certainly won’t be thinking of the demented, sexually-frustrated evil nuns and brothers who took their rage out on the unfortunates who fell into their clutches, or who were driven there by Monsignor Everyman in his fine parish priest’s motor car.
Let’s not be too surprised at the silence over mass graves of babies in Ireland. This society, after all, is founded on a contempt for the weak. This is a society that has never confronted its own great catastrophe, the Irish Shoah known as the Great Famine. This is a society well-used to burying its feelings and hating those who fall beneath the hooves of history.
Let me put it this way: what did the Famine survivors do in order to survive? Would they boast about their actions to their children and grandchildren? What did your ancestors do to survive? Maybe they even became wealthy during those years?
What a fertile plot Cardinal Paul Cullen found, in which to sow the seeds of his extreme Ultramontane Catholicism back in 1852. A society riddled with grief, rage, guilt and hatred.
Have those feelings gone away in the intervening century and a half? Of course not. Though we have finally thrown off the power of the institutional church in many ways, it still retains significant control in areas entirely outside its competence: the areas of health and education. It’s indicative of this State’s abdication that private individuals, nuns and priests, were allowed to dominate such vital and sensitive areas of our society, up to and including the power to hold people prisoner, and that is precisely what nuns did, the same nuns who still unashamedly refuse to contribute to the fund for their Magdalene slaves, even though they knowingly wrecked those women’s lives for their own profit.
Now, of course, it becomes clearer that they not only destroyed their victims mentally and physically, but also that they starved and neglected thousands of children in their messianic sense of superiority.
The Bon Secours nuns are not unique in this, but we do know that in Tuam, over a 36-year period from 1925 to 1961, they routinely tossed dead toddlers and infants into an old septic tank, just like so much rubbish, at the rate of one child every two weeks.
And yet, those self-appointed latter-day moral guardians, like the ludicrous Iona Institute, and the revolting Youth Defence, have remained utterly silent when news of this obscenity emerged.
In the case of Iona, because the facts don’t suit their carefully-constructed fantasy of a fictitious Catholic Ireland, and in the case of Youth Defence and their kind, because it simply isn’t of any use to them.
But leaving aside fringe groups, what of an Garda Síochána? Would it not seem reasonable, if a grave was discovered containing 800 bodies, that they would immediately seize the files of the organisation in charge of the suspected crime scene and caution everyone before launching a massive investigation?
One would have thought so, but in fact, nothing of the sort has happened. Instead, the Gardaí seem to have directed most of their energy towards intimidating their whistleblowers, despite the public statements of their interim Commissioner to the contrary.
Here is a grave containing the remains of eight hundred babies and toddlers. Eight hundred! And yet the national police force has so far failed to make any inquiries.
Why are we not shouting about this from the rooftops?
Timeline from Liam Hogan, historian and librarian.