Belfast Telegraph

Kevin Myers: Why turning our backs on the children was a dirty little secret

Angry response — a protestor at the launch of the Child Abuse Commission report in DublinI've had enough.

I've had enough of the Ryan Commission's uncontested allegations being presented universally across the media as “findings”. I've had enough of lesbian-nun tittle-tattle being packaged up as evidence of child abuse. I've had enough of the self-indulgent, undisciplined public emoting on RTE.

I'm sick, sore and tired of the quivering sanctimony of the professional hand-wringing classes. (

I've had enough of people expressing complete astonishment at the scale of these allegations. (For what else could they be but large, when the total complainants numbered some 2,500, and the commission heard around one thousand of them?)

And most of all, I'm nauseated by the false perception that Irish society was ever a caring one, in which the abuse of children was some sort of aberration of which people were totally unaware.

The first revelations about widespread clerical child abuse appeared nearly 15 years ago. What on earth could any reasonable person expect that nearly a decade of legal inquiry, and covering nearly seven decades would reveal? That this was Sunnybrook Farm?

The motif of the Republic should not be the harp, or the shamrock, but Janus: looking in two opposite directions at the same time.

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It is one thing to see no evil, and hear no evil: for that is the hallmark of all hypocritical societies everywhere. It is quite another to create a festering cesspit of a society, as independent Ireland successfully did, with probably the greatest gap between rich and poor of any in western Europe, and then exult at the violent manner in which this State was formed. That's Janus at work.

The Republic is not a Christian country, and never has been, either in the way it has treated the less fortunate, or most of all, in the way it has revered the founding icons of its identity.

From 1970-ish on, these were hidden from sight, while Northerners emulated their example. That's all over now, so we've dusted down those figures, and have elevated them into mythic inspirations once again.

Thirty children were killed in the Easter Rising — which nationalist Ireland then conveniently forgot. It has not even bothered to count the cost to another generation of children of the idiotic campaign of more recent vintage.

And if you don't learn from history, by God, you will revisit it. The 1916 death toll for children was about 5% of the total.

The death toll for the first 1,000 killings in the latest troubles included 54 children aged 16 or under (the youngest being four months). Or, 5.4%.

This is the lesson: if you have an insurrection or terrorist war amid a civilian population, you may reasonably presume that 5% of the fatalities will be of children.

Uniquely in Europe in the 20th century, Irish nationalists have chosen to go to war with their fellow countrymen on at least three occasions: but always, of course, in the cause some ‘higher morality’.

Moreover, of the first 1,000 victims of the Troubles, 236 were parents aged under 50. (Many parent-victims were older than that, and are thus excluded from this figure).

They had between them at least 670 children, the vast majority of whom would have been under 16. All of those children were put through the needless, but largely intentional, torment of losing a mother or a father to violent death, with God knows what repercussions for the rest of their lives.

A 20th-century society that genuinely loved children, that genuinely cared for civilised values, that genuinely deplored violence, that genuinely revered the quintessential sanctity of life, would have closed down that barbarous, pagan organisation that was the Provisional IRA.

But we know that the opposite was the case.

The man who helped found the Provisional IRA, Charles Haughey, went on to become leader of Fianna Fail — and indeed, one of the achievements which gave him credibility within his party was his role in causing the Provisional breakaway in 1969-70.

Thus we allowed a fatuous war, in which probably some 200 children were killed, and maybe another 2,500 children lost at least one parent.

So, a real Irish conundrum: Is it worse to grope a little boy for sexual purposes, or to blow his father apart for nationalistic ones?

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