Bishop of Tuam Issues Press Statement on Mother and Baby Home Scandal

Pious platitudes

The bishop of Tuam has released a statement in which he seeks to distance his diocese from the appalling treatment of the women who were locked up in the notorious Mother and baby Home.

In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of Cardinal Cahal Daly, who also sought to distance himself from any responsiblity for the monstrous behaviour of Father Brendan Smyth, the paedophile whose activities brought down a government and first exposed to the world what was really going on behind the veil of sanctity in Ireland.

Daly, you might recall, pointed out that he had no authority over Brendan Smyth, because the priest was a member of the Norbertine order and was therefore under the control of his religious superior within that order.  This was why, according to Daly, he could not intervene in the priest’s rape of children.  He was powerless to do so.

Oddly enough, this lack of power didn’t prevent Daly’s successor from intervening in the activities of another priest who was also a member of a religious order.  Cardinal Seán Brady who, as a young priest, had sworn abused children to secrecy on pain of damnation, had no hesitation in stepping in when Father Iggy O’Donovan, an Augustinian priest in Drogheda committed a transgression in 2006.

His crime?  Iggy O’Donovan celebrated an ecumenical service with a Protestant clergyman, in a spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.

Thus we had two bishops of Armagh, one of whom could not stop a member of an order from raping children, while another was ready and willing to prevent a member of another order from reaching out to his friends and neighbours.

Bishops, as we have seen, are powerless when it suits them to be powerless, and that’s where Michael Neary comes in.  Michael is Archbishop of Tuam and I’m sure he’s a perfectly decent chap in his own way.  His response to the Ryan report seemed genuine enough and his unreserved apology on behalf of the Catholic church was convincing in its sincerity, but like most of his colleagues apart from Diarmuid Martin, Michael is a slave to Bishopspeak, just like any longstanding official  in any monolithic organisation, and his press release showed all the symptoms of that enslavement.

Michael’s primary purpose in issuing the press release seems to be this:  to distance his diocese as much as he possibly can from the Bon Secours order, in the hope that as little dirt as possible will stick to his predecessors.  That’s why he says as follows:

As the diocese did not have any involvement in the running of the home in Tuam we do not have any material relating to it in our archives.

Michael is being, as a bishop might put it, disingenuous.  The reality is that the Tuam Home would never have been set up in the first place without the express wishes of  Archbishop Gilmartin.

His Grace the Archbishop of Tuam is anxious that the Bon Secours Sisters should go there, Mr Jordan advised a meeting of Galway County Council.

Sadly, no photographs of Dr Gilmartin surfaced, but here’s a picture of his successor, Dr Walsh, who also had absolutely nothing to do with the Bon Secours Nursing Home.

Bishop of Tuam
Via @Limerick1914


There are many ways of exercising control, as we all know.  It is not necessary to manage an institution in order to control it, and anyone who ever had the chance to observe a community of nuns at close quarters will have seen how obsequious and grovelling they were to even the humblest clergyman, never mind a prince of the church.

When Dr Deeny, the Chief Medical Officer, unilaterally closed Bessborough Home because of the number of children it was killing, the Papal Nuncio complained him to DeValera on the order of Bishop Lucey of Cork, even though the home was run by nuns.

The bishops knew everything and the bishops controlled everything.  Let us not forget that this bishop of Tuam was the very same one to whom the entire county library catalogue was submitted for vetting.   Gilmartin selected the books to be burned, and yet, somehow, Michael Neary would have us believe he was a benign, bumbling old Santa Claus figure who had nothing to do with the systemic oppression of women in post-independence Ireland.

Isn’t it time Irish Catholic bishops stopped insulting our intelligence?

Bishop Michael must have written his press release hastily because he seems to have overlooked the fact that the 796 children on Catherine Corless’s list are not buried in a graveyard.  We still don’t know if they were thrown into a septic tank, but the fact remains that their location has not been established.

He also seems not to realise that the women who were incarcerated in the Home did not give up their babies, but were coerced by the nuns, by the local clergy, by their families and by society at large into doing so.  Or more to the point, he knows that full well and he’d prefer if you wouldn’t realise the same thing.

This is a characteristically  cowardly statement, of the sort we have come to expect from Irish bishops.  It attempts to push responsibility onto the nuns and away from his own office, while at the same time looking to gain the high moral ground by offering to seek a dignified re-interment for the remains of the children in what he calls consecrated ground.

The mealy-mouthed arrogance of that sentiment is astonishing.  To think that those children, or their abused mothers, would want to lie in the sort of ground Michael Neary regards as consecrated simply repeats the insult that was visited on them by Neary’s predecessors and by the nuns they controlled from 1924 to 1961.

This prelate needs to go away, meditate and be quiet.



Full statement from Michael Neary

30 thoughts on “Bishop of Tuam Issues Press Statement on Mother and Baby Home Scandal

  1. I don’t blame Neary, I blame the sheep who attended catholic mass last Sunday and who will attend catholic mass on this and future Sundays. The uncritical, unthinking, all accepting faithful sheep.

  2. No.8, you have confused me, does the church that has brain washed these people have no fault, after all he still chooses to be a member and preach to these idiots

  3. Where’s the confusion? Neary makes a statement safe in the knowledge that the sheep will turn up week in week out blind in their acceptance of the church’s word. By not questioning they are giving tacid approval.

  4. He didn’t say that. But since Neary was only a child I don’t see how he could be to blame for the Tuam home.

  5. Bock, you are of course correct, again – The bishops knew everything and the bishops controlled everything

    Neary is a bullshitter and he’s not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes, even if he thinks he is.
    About him being a decent chap. I’m sure even the worst tyrants were decent chaps in their own sort of way, but his attempts at distancing himself from the mad nuns doesn’t wash and shows him to be a man of little character, to me.

    I’ve seen these sorts of weasels in action in companies.
    Trying to fob every decision they make onto their subordinates, getting others to do their dirty work.
    Not only were the nuns actions sanctioned by the bishop, but operations would have been directed by the priests.
    Any nun I’ve had the misfortunate of being around in my youth has just been a priest’s bitch. They had little power in decision making themselves.
    Sure, they’re women, how could they?

    I hope this is all dealt with properly, asap. We need to ensure this isn’t repeated and the misfortunates that suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church are given decent burials.

    The days of the church giving moral guidance are numbered. They’ve lost all credibility in that regard. All they ever offered was toxic shame. Shame of one’s body, one’s sexuality, one’s very being, and it was all lies, designed to keep people subservient to enable the church to retain power.

    All lies and here we have more of it.

  6. So the 800 dead babies in Tuam, were actually all the children that had died there over a 40 year period. Their deaths were all recorded and formalised and they died from things like TB, Measles, Whooping cough and other ailments which have all been eradicated today. 20 per year over a forty year period in a home with many hundreds of residents and workers would not be unusual for the times. Ah, but sure why let the facts get in the way of media sensationalism when we have a lefty press with an ideological agenda? Another load of bollox to keep us feeling miserable!

  7. Robert, the mortality of infants in the Tuam home was three to four times the national average. Causes of death included malnutrition, for which, I’m told, a cure existed. More disturbing is the fact that mortality in other homes was even higher. If you doubt this, look at the debates in the Dail on the registration of homes, in which Dr Ward, parliamentary secretary, acknowledges the alarmingly high death rate.

    Incidentally, religious-run institutions were exempted from registration.

    The nuns were paid 20 shillings per week for a mother and child at a time when the national average labourer’s wage was 52 shillings out of which entire families paid rent, food and heating, and survived with a far lower mortality rate. Let me also point out that the fresh produce from their market garden was sold to the public.

  8. The fact that a sheep thinks this story has more to do with a liberal media than the depravity of the Catholic Church would be amusing if it wasn’t so sad.

  9. There are some out there that would try to defend the indefensable. People who do that are, in my opinion, simply zelots or bigots.

  10. I grew up in the fifties in a small town with a convent of nuns, I used to be sent there to buy 6d worth of dripping for us to eat on toast, It took many years for the hypocrisy of the religious order to vow poverty, and yet eat so well, that they could sell the by-product of their food to those without means to buy beef,
    I am aware that this comment is unrelated to the vile evil perpetrated in Tuam and elsewhere, but is relevant in that, if this displays what they were willing to show to the outside world, what were they like with no prying eyes.

  11. Yeah. Rosita gave a master-class in missing the point.

    Diarmuid Martin, on the other hand, is calling for a full judicial review of all homes, and of adoptions.

  12. I think you are being too kind to Rosita when you describe her as having missed the point Bock. I found her article noxious. She misrepresents Corless entirely and the transcripts of the interview shows this. Her implication that child mortality rates were the same throughout society were broadly similar is odious.

  13. I am trying to find out where I originate from. I now know my so-called “parents” are not my biological parents, they always refused to talk to me about where I came from!
    I have this seriously strong feeling I come from Ireland, possibly sold to my “parents” in the mid 1950’s!
    Can anyone on here give me a hint on how and where in Ireland I should start searching for clues!!!

  14. Read that Robert. All it shows is that the headlines were a bit on the sensationalist side. It does nothing to detract from the horror that 800 babies were dumped in unmarked graves. Or do you dispute the number of dead babies or the fact that the graves are unmarked?

  15. No I don’t, Nor did I in my first post, this plot has a grotto, not that that matters,it is not unmarked, all that is missing is the names, essentially it’s what is termed a paupers grave, as can be found in an awful lot of towns in Ireland,
    The reason that these people are there is because their family’s placed them there, this is the root cause,
    It is not an extermination camp!

    I agree it was a horrible existence for these children, I agree they were abused and malnourished, I agree that the catholic church should be dispensed with in this country

    Do you agree that the family’s of these women and children also were responsible, not forgetting that this is still within living memory and the majority of these familys still live in the galway Roscommon area.

    Regarding the media reference I made earlier, I actually referred to lefty press with an ideological agenda, you misquoted me

  16. In my opinion, as I have said many times, the entire country was rendered infantile and delusional. Nothing that happened in 20th century Ireland can be understood without referring to the Famine and the subsequent arrival of Paul Cullen.

  17. Yes the families are of course also to blame for being brainwashed into thinking that it was a sin to be an unmarried mother. Different debate though. This is about 800 dead babies at the hands of a group of nuns and how the Catholic Church will deflect responsibility.

  18. In fairness to Diarmuid Martin, he’s calling for an independent inquiry with no connection to church or state and with full judicial powers. He also wants the inquiry to examine all homes.

    Call me naive if you like, but that doesn’t look like deflection to me.

  19. made an error, the point I was trying to put home was that anyone who still holds a position in the church with the information that we have now should hold their hands up ,apologise or go fuck themselves!

  20. It is true, thus far the only individual that enhanced their reputation has been Diarmuid Martin.

  21. The Government should investigate the ‘mother and babies’ homes. But can they be trusted to investigate anything? They had nothing but contempt for the Magdalene victims. “They were employees.” That was according to Batt O’Keefe, ex Fianna Failer. The present Government wanted to erase it from history until they were compelled by the United Nations to investigate. Then they set up the Mc ALeese enquiry.

    A whitewash was the outcome. ‘It wasn’t all that bad, the nuns did their best, it wasn’t like the movie’ Diarmuid Martin said yesterday on radio that the Church should have been more ‘caring’ in the past. He can say anything he wants and he won’t be questioned by the RTE journalists. ‘Should have been more caring’? Who is he anyway to advise the Government?

    Are his hands clean? Why are the ‘religious orders’ not being compelled to comply with their ‘word’ that they would pay up financially on an equal basis with the State the cost of redress? Why is Martin quiet on this? Has Ireland not had enough of these Bishops, Cardinals and priests? And yet they still run the schools. When will people get it, that the Catholic Church is fucking evil and is only interested in protecting it’s power. Any sane Government would confront it and limit it’s power after what it has infllicted on the Irish people.

  22. I am not surprised by the revelation of this filthy history.
    What surprises me is the assumption that we are to be surprised.
    I remember hearing from those who grew up in that time in Ireland that the poor Germans during WWII kept themselves spotlessly clean, even in the trenches, while the dirty Brits wouldn’t even wash their hands.
    The Irish in that time truly believed that priests spoke for God in every word they uttered.
    After all, didn’t them dirty jews kill the baby Jesus?
    Our history.
    And all of it remains connected to us today.

  23. I have sad stories to tell also. Not of the home in Tuam but in Galway city where my sister died of whooping cough. Mothers were not allowed to go to the funeral of their own child.Whos rule or law was that. ? My sister is buried in an unmarked grave . in a field 7 to 8 miles from Galway city. There was a graveyard in Galway city in 1933. My mother wouldn’t go against what the law was at that time.Either the church’s law or Irish law. She wasn’t educated enough to fight back. The British saw that the Irish, most of them.were uneducated. When we came to America we left our home and was never paid a penny for it. It was taken over by the rent collector lady and given to her two sons. My father is buried in Lackagh graveyard. He fought for Irelands freedom and never got a penny for that either. Council is supposed to be in charge of taking care of the graveyards but they don’t do their jobs either. I have lots more I would like to RANT about as well but will save it for another day. Ireland needs a few good , honest people to oversee a lot of things that happened and is still happening . I feel for the children that were adopted out never to know their parents.The church needs to change , so does government.

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