Newstalk is finally leading on the story of the 796 children buried in a sceptic tank in a religious home in Tuam - it has yet to appear in the RTE website. It's over a week and RTE has yet to 'realise' this is a major story. A clear indication that we are not dealing simply with uncovering a grim story from the distant past but with the way power continues to be exercised between Church, State & Media in our collective present.
Over the last week we have published 7 stories on this [Workers Solidarity Facebook] page about the discovery of the Tuam grave and the revelation that thousands more children are to be found in similar mass graves elsewhere in Ireland. We are putting this in the context of a deliberate policy of the state to destroy any independence women had, to enforce a grim sexual morality on women and severely punish those who refused to toe the line and their children. The sort of policy that the right wing politicians of the so called 'pro-life' movement continue to push today when they attack sex education, access to abortion and marriage equality.
But also that when we wonder about how our grandparents could live in a society that allowed this to go on we should also question ourselves why we allow the cruel conditions of the Direct Provision Asylum Detention system to exist. That is our equivalent modern day rule through fear in which thousands of people are trapped, and like our grandparents the majority of the population not only turn a blind eye but make excuses for the cruelty of that system.
Around 100,000 people have read these stories and lots of you have helped circulate them. In looking down them we became aware that survivors of these institutions had commented on some of them and we wanted to draw attention in particular to this eyewitness account posted as a comment last night
“I spent the first 9 years of my life in St Clare's in Stamullen. The abuse and degradation was rife. Lack of proper food and care were key to the nuns power over us. Cold tired hungry children will do whatever to survive. I have many memories of washing babies who died as a result of this neglect and as a result of this have been scared for life. The only good that came out of this was that I Survived. They broke my body but they couldn't break my spirit. But the nightmares never leave. Thank god these places no longer exist.
When you turned 4 in the place I was in your role was to be mother to 6-8 newborns and when they died as many did I would wash them and get them ready for burial in a communal grave. We in our innocence would give them names without the nuns ever knowing. I've lived with the guilt of their deaths all my life poor little souls never stood a chance.”
The question we must all address is not just how we uncover this terrible past but how we recognise the same forces at work in the present and come together to defeat them.
Published on WSM Facebook on 3 June 2014