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Malachi O'Doherty

Did autonomy given to the Catholic Church by unionist government allow Mother and Baby home scandal to go unreported in NI?

Malachi O'Doherty



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Disgrace: A pair of infant shoes at the shrine on a mass burial site, formerly part of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Disgrace: A pair of infant shoes at the shrine on a mass burial site, formerly part of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

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Unionist James Craig

Unionist James Craig

Unionist Basil Brooke

Unionist Basil Brooke

Legacy: families at the shrine on a mass burial site in Tuam

Legacy: families at the shrine on a mass burial site in Tuam

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Disgrace: A pair of infant shoes at the shrine on a mass burial site, formerly part of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The shocking thing about the latest disclosure of atrocities by the Catholic Church in Ireland is that it is not disclosure at all. Everybody knew. The figure of 9,000 dead babies is clarification of the scale of neglect in the Mother and Baby homes in the Republic and that warrants some dwelling on. This is double the average mortality rate for babies that did not have two parents in that period.

It was worse in the early years of the Irish state and improved as conditions broadly improved for everybody. Nuns, religious sisters, allegedly doing God's work, were so careless in their attention to needy little newborns that they let thousands of them die. The numbers who died and were buried in the grounds of the homes was drawn to our attention by the historian Catherine Corless. She discovered that a patch of land at the site of a home run by the Bon Secours Sisters in Tuam, Co Galway was a graveyard for hundreds of lost babies.

There is no forgiveness for that unless from the God they purported to be serving. But neither is it news to the people of Ireland that pregnant girls were shunted aside and regarded as a disgrace to themselves and their families.


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