Reflecting on the Mother and Baby homes

Gradually as the days go by some of the facts about the Tuam mother and baby home are being established, though a lot more still remains to be revealed. It would seem now that the story that went around the world about the bones of around eight hundred children being found in a septic tank had little or no basis in reality. And it is still not a all clear how those bones got into that area at the corner of the little green enclosure. It was a great pity that certain media outlets were not willing to wait until there was more substance to the story, and resisted the temptation to sensationalise the whole thing.
But the other fact that is becoming more clear by the day is that life in those mother and baby homes was horrible for both the women and their babies. It is easy to point the finger at the nuns who ran the homes. And they have certainly to take some blame. From my point of view, having spent my life in a religious community, it is a matter of great sadness to realise how completely religious communities had adopted the values, prejudices and sheer cruelties of the society at large, when the whole purpose of religious life is to provide an alternative view of how society should operate, and people should relate to each other. It is hard to understand how they allowed themselves to be used as the jailers, the custodians of the people rejected by society, rather than challenging what was going on.
But the rest of us, the Irish people as a whole, cannot wash their hands of what happened. We are all to some extent to blame, in that we all got on with our lives and turned a blind eye to what was going on behind those walls. I do find it hard to take when I hear people like Archbishops Neary and Martin speak as if they were outside of it all, and that they can stand at a distance and pronounce of who is at fault and what is to be done.

I really don’t know how we as a nation should deal with issues like this. Another inquiry? We will soon have so many inquiries that we won’t be able to keep track of them all. I am not sure that ultimately they will teach us much that we do not know already. Some people I know suggest that when compensation entered into these inquiries the possibility of real discovery became much more difficult. I don’t know if that is the case, but there is an element of truth in the belief that when money is available truth can often go out the window.

So we will have to wait and see. And in the meantime I hope that the media in general can restrain their tendency towards sensationalism, because ultimately that will make everything more difficult.