Government Announces Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes

Commission will investigate what really happened to pregnant girls and their children in Ireland.

How symbolic it is that the  inquiry into the oppressive practices of the religious orders in Ireland should be announced by a son  of Oliver J Flanagan.

Who’s that? somebody asked me earlier today.

oliver j flanaganOliver J Flanagan, TD, was an extremely conservative Catholic bigot, an anti-Semite, a short-lived Fine Gael minister and a proud Knight of Columbanus.  The Mountmellick Monolith,  as John Healy once called him in the Irish Times, represented the worst of parish-pump Irish political stroke-pulling, a ward-heeling kisser of every episcopal ring that came within 100 miles of his ambit and a symbol of everything that was wrong with this backward little country since independence.

How refreshing, therefore, that his son, Charlie Flanagan, minister for children and youth affairs, should be the one to announce a commission of inquiry into the activities of the mother and baby homes that wrought such misery on some Irish people, with the active support of many others.

Charlie is a man of integrity.  In 2011, he called for the expulsion of the papal Legate from Ireland, something that would probably have led to the early demise of Oliver J, but it took another three years before Charlie and his leader finally confronted the horror that lies at  the heart of clerical domination in Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant.

Nevertheless, well and good.  They’ve done it.  There will be a commission of inquiry with full judicial powers, and what’s more, the chair won’t necessarily be a judge or indeed a lawyer of any kind.  It seems that the government has decided to leave no loose ends this time.  The inquiry will look into the high mortality rates in the homes, forced adoptions, clinical trials, anatomical dissections, falsification of consent papers, criminally-negligent obstetric treatment of mothers, and a desire by some to punish young women who had become pregnant either through  their own actions or as a result of rape.

This is the story of 35,000 young mothers, disposed of by a society steeped in shame, and 35,000 babies dismissed as little more than rubbish, to be  sold, abused or buried at the whim of some emotionally-disordered religious petty tyrant.

We’ve reached a very significant moment in assessing what precisely Irish Independence really meant.  Did those most conservative revolutionaries really fight for Rome Rule?  Whose freedom did they have in mind, with all their fine words?

It certainly doesn’t seem to have been the freedom of the weak, the poor or the vulnerable.

Ireland was not Afghanistan, but in the way it treated its daughters, it wasn’t all that different and it’s time for us to look very hard indeed at what we are and where we came from.

9 thoughts on “Government Announces Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes

  1. It strikes me that what started out around 1913 as a leftist, nationalist movement was within eight or nine years totally usurped such that by 1921 Ireland’s destiny lay firmly in the grip of a conservative and catholic middle class. What happened in those few years that a revolution with such progressive and egalitarian aims i.e. to cherish all of the children of the nation equally among other things, could become the callow, subservient church-dominated society of the 1920’s onwards? Was it the execution of the 1916 leaders? Would they have led Ireland down a different road had they lived?

  2. Power & money.
    Two factors but with just three controlling groups.
    Priests, doctors and lawyers.
    All else was piffle.
    Great little country.

  3. There was a rentier class who did very well in post-famine Ireland, drawing a lot of money from the people and giving very little back by way of investment or economic development. The churches gave an ideological undergirding to a society of dominance and subservience. The structural injustices in Irish society were overlooked in favour of the personalisation and sexualisation of “sin.” The theocracy that developed after 1922 suited the rentiers, whose “sins” could be paid off – even in the mother and baby homes, £100 would buy freedom.

    A few years ago, Charlie Flanagan stood in the Dail to welcome legislation on gay equality. He seems someone of genuine independence of thought and integrity.

  4. We’ve got to do our own growing, regardless of who our grandfathers were – to misquote a past author.

  5. It started with the banishing of the snakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I came out in 1984 left Ireland for good, lost most of my family and all my friends, the best decision I have made in my life. I now live in Sydney and for the past ten years we the “Banished Irish” living abroad had had to put up with the shame of being associated with the corruption scandals, clerical abuse, Magdalene laundries inquiry, the complete collapse of the banking system and the economy. It has nothing to do with us but because of our names and accents we are all lumped in with the disgrace that is the “Irish Nation” from 1921 to 2014. I have decided years ago not to renew my Irish passport and if there was a cure for the accent I would be tempted to take it.
    Now the Mother and baby homes are going to be investigated , from the coverage we get from Ireland it looks like the “Irish Nation” is again in shock!!
    Let’s remind ourselves of our (twisted) Irish history post 1921
    The Roman Catholic Church has had a powerful influence over the Irish state since its inception in 1922. The Catholic Church issued a decree, known as “Ne Temere”, whereby the children of marriages between Catholics and Protestants had to be brought up as Catholics. The Protestant population dropped by up to 50% in a few years a form of ethnic cleansing.
    In 1925 the Catholic hierarchy successfully pushed to have divorce out-lawed. The ban on divorce was added to the 1937 Constitution and not removed until a referendum in 1996
    In 1929 Mass censorship began, books and films were banned or edited to remove sections that didn’t agree with Catholic ethos.
    Irish authors including Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Brendan Behan, John B. Keane, Sean O’Casey, Frank O’Connor and George Bernard Shaw found their work censored or banned to the point these writers couldn’t read their own books in their own country.
    In the 1920’s the Catholic Church’s requirement of their subservient politician (all sides of Irish politics) included the total prohibition of contraceptives and abortion.
    Contraceptives had to be smuggled in in the 1970’s and didn’t finally become legal until 1990 and then by married couples with a prescription from a doctor.
    In the 1920’s the Mother and baby homes were set up to control the women of Ireland, the shame of a pregnancy outside matrimony was firmly embedded in the Irish Catholic ethos.
    The Church had decided and women had to obey and that their husbands rights to have large families was the woman’s duty.
    From 1922 the Catholic Church in Ireland controlled the vast majority of primary and secondary schools and set the national curriculum. The hierarchy opposed the free public secondary schools service introduced in 1968 by Donogh O’Malley.
    The passing of the Irish Constitution in 1937 the State recognises the special position of the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as the guardian of the Faith professed by the great majority of the citizens. A republic by definition means that there is total separation of church and state, we made up our own Catholic version.
    In 1947 Health Act of 1947 was passed as a basis of a national health scheme. The Mother-and-Child Health Scheme of the First Inter-party Government of 1948-51 was introduced, Dr Noel Browne, new Minister for Health, sought to make radical changes in the area of public health. Browne now sought to give effect to some of its provisions. In particular, he was anxious to provide maternity and medical care for the mother and the children up to sixteen years of age free of charge, partly out of concern about high infant mortality in Ireland. Catholic bishops objected violently so did The Irish Medical Association Brown was defeated.
    The Health Act in 1953 stated that pupils attending secondary schools should not be given advice on sexual practices contrary to Church teaching.
    The laws which imposed imprisonment for Homosexual acts were eventually overturned without a vote in the Dail in 1993.
    Ireland was in effect a theocracy similar to Iran today.
    The reality for the Irish Nation today is a very difficult period has to gone through, similar to the period after a major war has been fought, hundreds of thousands of women, children, non-Catholics, the emigrant poor who ended up in the gutters of most UK cities, the many men isolated in rural Ireland where sex was a mortal sin (John B Keane remarked in the 1980’s “look around your own parish and count the houses with either single women or men mainly live their lives buckled by the guilt of Catholic Ireland”) gay, lesbian, transgender were victimised by the Theocratic State under the direct control of the Irish Catholic Church.
    To help you with your reflection Ireland was and still is partially controlled by men who are a hairs breath away from the preaching of Pastor: Fred Phelps. (God hates fags) of the Westboro Baptist Church.
    It was a night-mare growing up in Ireland but when you add to that people lost their lives, their dignity, their families, their friends, and their country.
    Shame on you all for the sham of the feigned shock you exhibit with each expose of your fascist failed state. We all knew and we allowed the puritans to rule with deadly consequences for the weakest and some of the most vulnerable in society.

    The victims of the Extreme right fascist Irish Catholic Church were not an accident they were designed into the plan as you dont get real results with out some pain.
    The Irish Government should not have an inquiry into the Mother and baby homes it should have a internationaly distinguished commision of inquiry into THE IRISH CATHOLIC CHURCH. Included should be the victims and a selection of the “BANISHED IRISH”

  6. The so-called revolution lost most of its Volunteers to altruistic efforts on WW1 battlefields in Belgium. It was surely doomed. Wrong priorities, wrong place.

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