Tag: Tuam

The government have ordered a forensic excavation of the #TuamBabies site

It was unexpected, but the announcement was made today. The Irish cabinet have approved a decision by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone to conduct a forensic excavation of the Tuam site:

The remains of children buried in unmarked graves at a former mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway, are to be exhumed, identified and reburied.

The announcement was made by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone.

The site will be excavated in a bid to recover the remains. Forensic tests will be carried out to identify each child before “respectful” reburials. The Catholic-run institution housed unmarried mothers and babies from 1925 to 1961 and had high infant mortality.

There was an outcry last year when tests revealed “significant quantities” of human remains had been buried in “underground chambers” at the site.

Announcing the phased forensic excavation, Minister Zappone said: “I understand that this is a hugely important decision for all connected to the site in Tuam, most especially those who believe they may have a loved one buried there and those now living close to the site.”

“I am committed to ensuring that all the children interred at this site can have a dignified and respectful burial.”
The minister said operation would not be straightforward and said it presented “unprecedented technical and legal issues”.

But she added: “It is only by taking the right actions now can we truly demonstrate our compassion and commitment to work towards justice, truth and healing for what happened in our past and, most especially, for those who were previously abandoned.”

This appears to be exactly the outcome we called for but feared would be rejected (on grounds of squeamishness, church-deference, and, shabbily, costs).

At one stage it appeared that the authorities wanted to rustle up dissent in the local community in order to cloud the issue.

But ordinary people refused to fall for that.

Ordinary people made their feelings known in so many ways.

I am not naive and am well aware the devil will be in the detail.

But be in absolutely no doubt.

This is a HUGE victory.

More to follow.

A photo essay from Tuam, and its silent vigil for #TuamBabies

You may have read that the Pope was in Ireland. He’s just left. According to our bizarre national media, all went totally smoothly. This is despite the fact that attendances at the various Pope shindigs were pretty feeble, bringing to mind those that turned out for the inauguration of one President D. Trump over in America.

In Ireland, our broadcasters and newspapers often warn about the echo chamber of social media. But based on their unstinting efforts to propagandize on behalf of the establishment — be it social conservatives, hyper-Catholics, or nationalist politicians — it seems that it is our media who occupy an echo chamber of their own construction. They are the ones who sit around talking to themselves, listening to each other, and systematically reinforcing their own distorted perceptions of reality.

And, thus, they are the ones who keep getting everything wrong.

They got the Marriage Equality referendum wrong. They got the Abortion referendum wrong. And now, when it comes to bigging up the papacy, they got the people’s sentiments all wrong too.

https://twitter.com/faduda/status/1034046216622014465

Juxtaposed with wall-to-wall TV coverage of the Pope surrounded by largely empty streets in Dublin city, and empty seats at his keynote mass, were the enthusiastic and vibrant crowds who gathered for defiant counter-protests organised by grassroots groups around the country.

For reasons I explained before, I attended the silent vigil in Tuam. I wrote previously about the context for this, so I won’t repeat it here. To be honest, it would be difficult to do that right now. I am emotionally burnt out with it all. It’s too heavy-duty. I don’t want to.

So, I took some pictures (and a couple of videos) instead. Here is my visual record of yesterday’s Tuam vigil, of a defiant throng seeking recognition, catharsis, space, and justice, of an outpouring of a people stepping into a new light post-Catholic totalitarianism, yearning to outgrow a disappearing ‘official’ Ireland and its lingering remnants in the Irish media echo chamber.

Here. Here is Tuam. Here is Ireland.

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And to Dunnes for the epilogue…

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In Memoriam:

Patrick Derrane 5 months
Mary Blake 4 months
Matthew Griffin 3 months
Mary Kelly 6 months
Peter Lally 11 months
Julia Hynes 1 year
James Murray 1 month
Joseph McWilliam 6 months
John Mullen 3 months
Mary Wade 3 years
Maud McTigue 6 years
Bernard Lynch 3 years
Martin Shaughnessy 18 months
Bridget Glynn 1 year
Margaret Glynn 1 year
Patrick Gorham 21 months
Patrick O’Connell 1 year
John Carty 21 months
Madeline Bernard 2 years
Maureen Kenny 8 years
Kathleen Donohue 1 year
Thomas Donelan 2 years
Mary Quilan 2 years
Mary King 9 months
Mary Warde 21 months
George Coyne 2 years
Julia Cummins 18 months
Barbara Fola/ Wallace 9 months
Pauline Carter 11 months
Mary Walsh 1 year
Annie Stankard 10 months
John Connelly 9 months
Anthony Cooke 1 month
Michael Casey 3 years
Annie McCarron 2 months
Patricia Dunne 2 months
John Carty 3 months
Peter McNamara 7 weeks
Mary Shaughnessy 4 months
Joseph Coen 5 months
Mary Murphy 2 months
Patrick Kelly 2 months
Martin Rabbitte 6 weeks
Kathleen Quinn 7 months
Patrick Halpin 2 months
Martin McGuinness 6 months
Mary Kate Connell 3 months
Patrick Raftery 7 months
Patrick Paterson 5 months
James Murray 1 month
Colman O’ Loughlin 5 months
Agnes Canavan 18 months
Christina Lynch 15 months
Mary O’Loughlin 6 months
Annie O’ Connor 15 months
John Greally 11 months
Joseph Fenigan 4 years
Mary Connolly 2 months
James Muldoon 4 months
Joseph Madden 3 months
Mary Devaney 18 months
Michael Gannon 6 months
Bridget Cunningham 2 months
Margaret Conneely 18 months
Patrick Warren 8 months
James Mulryan 1 month
Mary Kate Fahey 3 years
Mary Mahon 1 month
Martin Flanagan 1 month
Mary Forde 4 months
Patrick Hannon 20 months
Michael Donellan 6 months
Joseph Ward 7 months
Walter Jordan 3 years
Mary Mullins 1 month
Peter Christian 7 months
Mary Cunningham 5 months
James Ryan 9 months
Patrick O’Donnell 9 months
Mary Monaghan 4 years
Patrick O’Malley 1 year
Philomena Healy 11 months
Michael Ryan 1 year
Patrick Curran 6 months
Patrick Fahy 2 months
Laurence Molloy 5 months
Patrick Lynskey 6 months
Vincent Nally 21 months
Mary Grady 18 months
Martin Gould 21 months
Patrick Kelly 2 months
Bridget Quinn 1 year
William Reilly 9 months
George Lestrange 7 months
Christy Walshe 15 months
Margaret Mary Gagen 1 year
Patrick Moran 4 months
Celia Healy 5months
James Quinn 4 years
Bridget Walsh 15months
Patrick Shiels 4 months
Mary Teresa Drury 1 year
Peter O’Brien 18 months
Peter Malone 18 months
Carmel Moylan 8 months
Mary Burke 10 months
Mary Josephine Garvey 5 months
Mary Warde 10 months
Catherine Howley 9 months
Michael Pat McKenna 3 months
Richard Raftery 3 months
Margaret Doorhy 8 months
Patrick Leonard 9 months
Mary Coyne 1 year
Mary Kate Walsh 2 years
Christina Burke 1 year
Mary Margaret Jordan 18 months
John Joseph McCann 8 months
Teresa McMullan 1 year
George Gavin 1 year
Joseph O’Boyle 2 months
Peter Nash 1 year
Bridget Galvin 3 months
Margaret Niland 3 years
Christina Quinn 3 months
Kathleen Cloran 9 years
Annie Sullivan 8 months
Patricia Judge 1 year
Mary Birmingham 9 months
Laurence Hill 11 months
Brendan Patrick Pender 1 month
Kate Fitzmaurice 4 months
Baby Mulkerrins 5 days
Angela Madden 3 months
Mary McDonagh 1 year
Mary C Shaughnessy 1 month
Mary Moloney 11 months
Patrick Joseph Brennan 1 months
Anthony O’Toole 2 months
Mary Cloherty 9days
Joseph Fahy 10 months
Mary Finola Cunniffe 6 months
Martin Cassidy 5 months
Francis Walsh 3 months
Mary Garvey 4 months
Kathleen Gilchrist 8 months
Mary Kate Walsh 1 months
Eileen Fallon 18 months
Harry Leonard 3 years
Mary Kate Guilfoyle 3 months
John Callinan 3 months
John Kilmartin 2 months
Julia Shaughnessy 3 months
Patrick Prendergast 6 months
Bridgid Holland 2 months
Bridgid Moran 15 months
Margaret Mary Fahy 15 months
Bridgid Ryan 9 months
Mary Brennan 4 months
Mary Conole 1 months
John Flattery 2 years
Margaret Donohue 10 months
Joseph Dunn 3 years
Owen Lenane 2 months
Josephine Steed 3 months
Mary Meeneghan 3 months
James McIntyre 4 months
John Joseph Murphy 4 months
Margaret Mary O’Gara 2 months
Eileen Butler 2 months
Thomas Molloy 2 months
James Joseph Bodkin 6 months
John Kelly 2 months
Mary Walshe 6 months
Mary Jo Colohan 4 months
Florence Conneely 7 months
Norah McCann 1 months
Mary Kelly 9 months
Rose O’Dowd 6 months
Mary Egan 4 months
Michael Concannon 4 months
Paul Joyce 10 months
Mary Christina Kennedy 4 months
Bridget Finnegan 2 months
Mary Flaherty 3 months
Thomas McDonagh 4 months
Joseph Hoey 1 year
Sheila Tuohy 9 years
Teresa Cunniffe 3 months
Joseph Clohessy 2 months
Mary Kiely 4 months
Thomas Cloran 6 months
Mary Burke 3 months
Mary Marg Flaherty 4 months
John Keane 17 days
Luke Ward 15 months
Mary O’Reilly 5 months
Ellen Mountgomery 18 months
Mary Elizabeth Lydon 4 months
Brigid Madden 1 month
Mary Margaret Murphy 4 months
Mary Nealon 7 months
Stephen Linnane 4 months
Josephine Walsh 1 years
Kate Cunningham 2 months
Mary Bernadet Hibbett 1 month
Thomas Linnane 4 months
Patrick Lane 3 months
Mary Anne Conway 2 months
James Kane 8 months
Christopher Leech 3 months
Elizabeth Ann McCann 5 months
Margaret Mary Coen 2 months
Michael Linnane 15months
Bridget Glenane 5 weeks
John O’Toole 7 months
John Creshal 4 months
Mary Teresa Egan 3 months
Michael Boyle 3 months
Anthony Mannion 6 weeks
Donald Dowd 5 months
Peter Ridge 4 months
Eileen Collins 2 months
Mary Brennan 2 months
James Fahy 5 months
Mary Bridget Larkin 8 months
Margaret Scanlon 3 years
Brian O’Malley 4 months
Michael Madden 6 months
Mary Kate Cahill 2 weeks
Mary Margaret Lydon 3 months
Festus Sullivan 1 month
Annie Curley 3 weeks
Nuala Lydon 5 months
Bridget Collins 5 weeks
Patrick Joseph Coleman 1 month
Joseph Hannon 6 weeks
Henry Monaghan 3 weeks
Michael Joseph Shiels 7 weeks
Martin Sheridan 5 weeks
John Patrick Loftus 10 months
Patrick Joseph Murphy 3 months
Catherine McHugh 4 months
Mary Patricia Toher 4 months
Mary Kate Sheridan 4 months
Mary Flaherty 19 months
Mary Anne Walsh 14 months
Eileen Quinn 2 years
Patrick Burke 9 months
Margaret Holland 2 days
Joseph Langan 6 months
Sabina Pauline O’Grady 6 months
Patrick Qualter 3 years
Mary King 5 months
Eileen Conry 1 year
Mary Nee 4 months
Martin Andrew Larkin 14 months
Mary Keane 3 weeks
Kathleen V Cuffe 6 months
Margaret Linnane 4 months
Teresa Heneghan 3 months
John Neary 7 months
Patrick Madden 4 months
Mary Cafferty 2 months
Mary Kate Keane 3 months
Patrick Hynes 3 weeks
Annie Solan 2 months
Charles Lydon 9 months
Margaret Mullins 7 months
Mary Mulligan 2 months
Anthony Lally 5 months
Joseph Spelman 6 weeks
Annie Begley 3 months
Vincent Egan 1 week
Nora Murphy 5 months
Patrick Garvey 6 months
Patricia Burke 4 months
Winifred Barret 2 years
Agnes Marron 3 months
Christopher Kennedy 5 months
Patrick Harrington 1 week
Kathleen Devine 2 years
Vincent Garaghan 1 month
Ellen Gibbons 6 months
Michael McGrath 4 months
Edward Fraser 3 months
Bridget Lally 1 year
Patrick McLoughlin 5 months
Martin Healy 4 months
Nora Duffy 3 months
Margaret Higgins 1 week
Patrick Egan 6 months
Vincent Farragher 11 months
Patrick Joseph Jordan 3 months
Michael Hanley 1 month
Catherine Gilmore 3 months
Baby Carney 1 day
Annie Coyne 3 months
Helena Cosgrave 5 months
Thomas Walsh 2 months
Baby Walsh 1 day
Kathleen Hession 4 months
Brigid Hurley 11 months
Ellen Beegan 2 months
Mary Keogh 1 year
Bridget Burke 3 months
Martin Reilly 9 months
Martin Hughes 11 months
Mary Connolly 1 month
Mary Kate Ruane 1 month
Joseph Mulchrone 3 months
Michael Williams 14 months
Martin Moran 7 weeks
Josephine Mahony 2 months
James Henry 5 weeks
Bridget Staunton 5 months
John Creaven 2 weeks
Peter Lydon 6 weeks
Patrick Joseph Ruane 4 months
Michael Quinn 8 months
Julia Coen 1 week
Annie McAndrew 5 months
John Walsh 3 months
Patrick Flaherty 6 months
Bernadette Purcell 2 years
Joseph Macklin 1 day
Thomas Duffy 2 days
Elizabeth Fahy 4 months
James Kelly 2 months
Nora Gallagher 4 months
Kathleen Cannon 4 months
Winifred Tighe 8 months
Christopher Williams 1 year
Joseph Lynch 1 year
Andrew McHugh 15 months
William Glennan 18 months
Michael J Kelly 5 months
Patrick Gallagher 3 months
Michael Gerard Keane 2 months
Ellen Lawless 6 months
Mary Finn 3 months
Martin Timlin 3 months
Mary McLoughlin 1 month
Mary Brennan 5 months
Patrick Dominic Egan 1 month
Nora Thornton 17 months
Anne Joyce 1 year
Catherine Kelly 10 months
Michael Monaghan 8 months
Simon John Hargraves 6 months
Baby Forde 1 day
Joseph Byrne 2 months
Patrick Hegarty 4 months
Patrick Corcoran 1 month
James Leonard 16 days
Jane Gormley 22 days
Anne Ruane 11 days
Patrick Munnelly 3 months
John Lavelle 6 weeks
Patrick Ruane 24 days
Patrick Joseph Quinn 3 months
Joseph Kennelly 15 days
Kathleen Monaghan 3 months
Baby Quinn 2 days
Anthony Roche 4 months
Annie Roughneen 3 weeks
Anne Kate O’Hara 4 months
Patrick Joseph Nevin 3 months
John Joseph Hopkins 3 months
Thomas Gibbons 1 month
Winifred McTigue 7 months
Thomas Joseph Begley 2 months
Kathleen Heneghan 25 days
Elizabeth Murphy 4 months
Nora Farnan 1 month
Teresa Tarpey 1 month
Margaret Carey 11 months
John Garvey 6 weeks
Bridget Goldrick 4 months
Bridget White 3 months
Noel Slattery 1 month
Mary T Connaughton 4 months
Nora McCormack 6 weeks
Joseph Hefferon 5 months
Mary Higgins 9 days
Mary Farrell 21 days
Mary McDonnell 1 month
Geraldine Cunniffe 11 weeks
Michael Mannion 3 months
Bridget McHugh 7 months
Mary McEvady 18 months
Helena Walsh 3 months
William McDoell 2 days
Michael Finn 14 months
Mary Murphy 10 months
Gertrude Glynn 6 months
Joseph Flaherty 7 weeks
Mary O’Malley 4 years
John P Callanan 13 days
Baby McDonnell 1 day
Female McDonnell 1 day
Christopher Burke 9 months
Stephen Connolly 8 months
Mary Atkinson 6 months
Mary Anne Finegan 7 weeks
Francis Richardson 15 months
Michael John Rice 6 months
Nora Carr 4 months
William Walsh 16 months
Vincent Cunnane 14 months
Eileen Coady 10 months
Female Roache 1 day
Male Roache 1 day
Patrick Flannery 2 months
John Dermody 3 months
Margaret Spellman 4 months
Austin Nally 3 months
Margaret Dolan 3 months
Vincent Finn 9 months
Bridget Grogan 6 months
Thomas Patrick Cloran 9 weeks
Catherine Devere 1 month
Mary Josephine Glynn 1 day
Annie Connolly 9 months
Martin Cosgrove 7 weeks
Catherine Cunningham 2 years
Bridget Hardiman 2 months
Mary Grier 5 months
Mary P McCormick 2 months
Brendan Muldoon 5 weeks
Nora Moran 7 months
Joseph Maher 20 days
Teresa Dooley 3 months
Daniel Tully 7 months
Brendan Durkan 1 month
Sheila O’Connor 3 months
Annie Coen 6 months
Patrick J Kennedy 6 days
Thomas Walsh 2 months
Patrick Rice 1 year
Edward McGowan 10 months
Brendan Egan 10 months
Margaret McDonagh 1 month
Annie J Donellan 10 months
Thomas Walsh 14 days
Bridget Quinn 6 months
Mary Mulkerins 5 weeks
Kathleen Parkinson 10 months
Sheila Madeline Flynn 4 months
Patrick Joseph Maloney 2 months
Bridget Carney 7 months
Mary M O’Connor 6 months
Joseph Geraghty 3 months
Annie Coen 10 months
Martin Joseph Feeney 4 months
Anthony Finnegan 3 months
Patrick Coady 3 months
Baby Cunningham 1 day
Annie Fahy 3 months
Baby Byrne 1 day
Patrick Mullaney 18 months
Thomas Connelly 3 months
Mary Larkin 2 months
Margaret Kelly 4 months
Barbara McDonagh 4 months
Mary O’Brien 4 months
Keiran Hennelly 14 months
Annie Folan 4 months
Baby McNamara 1 day
Julia Murphy 3 months
John Rockford 4 months
Vincent Geraghty 1 year
Male O’Brien 2 days
Anthony Deane 2 days
Mary Teresa O’Brien 15 days
John Connelly 3 months
Bridget Murphy 3 months
Patricia Dunne 2 months
Francis Kinahan 1 month
Joseph Sweeney 20 days
Josephine O’Hagan 6 months
Patrick Lavin 1 month
Annie Maria Glynn 13 months
Kate Agnes Moore 2 months
Kevin Kearns 15 months
Thomas Doocey 15 months
William Conneely 8 months
Margaret Spelman 16 months
Mary Kate Cullen 22 months
Kathleen Brown 3 years
Julia Kelly 19 months
Mary Connolly 7 years
Catherine Harrison 2 years
Eileen Forde 21 months
Michael Monaghan 2 years
Mary Frances Lenihan 3 days
Anthony Byrne 6 months
Jarlath Thornton 7 weeks
John Kelly 6 days
Joseph O’Brien 18 months
Anthony Hyland 3 months
Male Murray 1 day
Female Murray 1 day
Joseph F McDonnell 11 days
Mary Walsh 15 months
Baby Glynn 1 day
James Gaughan 14 months
Margaret Walsh 4 months
Mary P Moran 9 days
John Francis Malone 7 days
Michael F Dempsey 7 weeks
Christina M Greally 4 months
Teresa Donnellan 1 month
Rose Anne King 5 weeks
Christopher J Joyce 2 months
James Mannion 8 months
Mary T Sullivan 3 weeks
Patrick Holohan 11 months
Michael Joseph Keane 1 month
Bridget Keaney 2 months
Joseph Flaherty 8 days
Baby Mahady 3 days
James Rogers 10 days
Kathleen F Taylor 9 months
Gerard C Hogan 7 months
Kathleen Corrigan 2 months
Mary Connolly 3 months
Patrick J Farrell 5 months
Patrick Laffey 3 years
Fabian Hynes 8 months
John Joseph Grehan 2 years
Edward O’Malley 3 months
Mary Fleming 6 months
Bridget F McHugh 3 months
Michael Folan 18 months
Oliver Holland 6 months
Ellen Nevin 7 months
Margaret Horan 6 months
Peter Mullarky 4 months
Mary P O’Brien 4 months
Teresa Francis O’Brien 4 months
Mary Kennedy 18 months
Sarah Ann Carroll 4 months
Baby Maye 5 days
Mary Devaney 21 days
Anthony McDonnell 6 months
Vincent Molloy 7 days
John Patrick Lyons 5 months
Gerald Aidan Timlin 3 days
Patrick Costelloe 17 days
John Francis O’Grady 1 month
Bridget Mary Flaherty 12 days
Josephine Finnegan 20 months
Martin McGrath 3 days
Baby Haugh 1 day
James Frayne 1 month
Mary Frances Crealy 14 days
Mary Davey 2 months
Patrick Joseph Hoban 11 days
Angela Dolan 3 months
Mary Lyden 5 months
Bridget Coneely 4 months
Austin O’Toole 4 months
Bernard Laffey 5 months
Mary Ellen Waldron 8 months
Terence O’Boyle 3 months
Mary Frances O’Hara 1 month
Martin Dermott Henry 43 days
Mary Devaney 3 months
Bridget Foley 6 months
Martin Kilkelly 40 days
Theresa Monica Hehir 6 weeks
Patrick A Mitchell 3 months
John Kearney 5 months
John Joseph Kelly 3 months
John Conneely 4 months
Stephen L O’Toole 2 months
Thomas A Buckley 5 weeks
Michael John Gilmore 3 months
Patrick J Monaghan 3 months
Mary Teresa Murray 2 months
Patrick McKeighe 2 months
John Raymond Feeney 3 months
Finbar Noone 2 months
John O’Brien 21 days
Beatrice Keane 5 years
Mary P Veale 5 weeks
Winifred Gillespie 1 year
Anthony Coen 10 weeks
Michael F Sheridan 3 months
Anne Holden 3 months
Martin Joseph O’Brien 7 weeks
Winifred Larkin 1 month
Patrick Thomas Coen 1 month
Mary Bridget Joyce 8 months
Geraldine Collins 13 months
Mary Flaherty 5 days
Vincent Keogh 5 months
John Francis Healy 10 days
Martin J Kennelly 1 month
Patrick Keaveney 2 months
Philomena Flynn 2 months
William Reilly 9 months
Margaret N Concannon 1 year
Patrick J Fitzpatrick 14days
Joseph Cunningham 2 months
Mary J Flaherty 13 months
Kathleen Murray 3 years
John O’Connell 2 years
Alphonsus Hanley 21 months
Bridget P Muldoon 11 months
Patricia C Higgins 5 months
Catherine B Kennedy 2 months
John Desmond Dolan 15 months
Stephen Joynt 2 years
Catherine T Kearns 2 years
Margaret Hurney 2 years
John Patton 2 years
Patrick J Williams 15 months
Nora Hynes 8 months
Anthony Donohue 2 years
Brendan McGreal 1 year
Anthony Cafferky 23 days
Nora Cullinane 18 months
Kathleen Daly 2 years
Nora Conneely 15 months
Mary Teresa Joyce 13 months
Kenneth A Ellesmere 1 day
Mary P Carroll 4 months
Thomas Collins 17 months
Margaret M Moloney 3 months
Josephine Tierney 8 months
Margaret M Deasy 3 months
Martin Francis Bane 3 months
Bridget Agatha Kenny 2 months
Baby Kelly 1 day
Mary Teresa Judge 15 months
Paul Dominick Bennett 3 months
Mary Bridget Giblin 18 months
Kathleen Madden 2 months
Mary P Byrne 8 weeks
Joseph Byrce 4 months
Joseph Byrne 11 months
Kathleen Glynn 4 months
Augustine Jordan 9 months
Michael F Dwyer 18 months
Noel C Murphy 14 months
Margaret McNamee 6 months
Patrick Grealish 6 weeks
Bernadette O’Reilly 7 months
John Joseph Carr 3 weeks
Paul Gardiner 10 months
Simon Thomas Folan 9 weeks
Joseph Ferguson 3 months
Peter Heffernan 4 months
Patrick J Killeen 14 weeks
Stephen Halloran 7 months
Teresa Grealish 5 months
John Keane 4 months
Mary Burke 9 months
Brigid McTigue 3 months
Margaret R Broderick 8 months
Martin Mannion 3 months
Mary Margaret Riddell 8 months
Thomas J Noonan 7 weeks
Peter Casey 10 months
Michael Scully 3 months
Baby Lyons 5 days
Hubert McLoughlin 4 months
Mary M Finnegan 3 months
Nicholas P Morley 3 months
Teresa Bane 6 months
Patrick J Kennedy 5 weeks
Michael Francis Ryan 3 days
John Forde 2 years
Mary P Cunnane 3 months
Margaret P Sheridan 4 months
Patrick Joseph Nevin 3 months
Joseph Nally 5 months
Christopher Burke 3 months
Anne Madden 7 weeks
Bridget T Madden 7 weeks
Thomas Murphy 3 months
Francis Carroll 2 months
Bridget J Linnan 9 months
Josephine Staunton 8 days
Mary Ellen McKeigue 7 weeks
Mary J Mulchrone 3 months
Catherine Higgins 4 years
Catherine Anne Egan 3 months
Thomas McQuaid 4 months
Dermott Muldoo 4 months
Martin Hanley 9 weeks
John Joseph Lally 3 months
Brendan Larkin 5 months
Baby Bell 1 day
Mary J Larkin 7 months
Annie Fleming 9 months
Colm A McNulty 1 month
Walter Flaherty 3 months
Sarah Burke 15 days
Mary Ann Boyle 5 months
John Anthony Murphy 5 months
Joseph A Colohan 4 months
Christopher Begley 18 days
Catherine A Meehan 4 months
Martin McLynskey 6 months
Mary J Crehan 3 months
Mary Ann McDonagh 2 months
Joseph Folan 22 days
Evelyn Barrett 4 months
Paul Morris 4 months
Peter Morris 4 months
Mary Martyna Joyce 18 months
Mary Margaret Lane 7 months
John Noone 4 months
Anne J McDonnell 6 months
Joseph Anthony Burke 6 months
Patrick Hardiman 6 months
Patrick Naughton 12 days
Josephine T Staunton 21 days
John Joseph Mills 5 months
Baby Hastings 1 day
Mary Donlon 4 months
Nora Connolly 15 months
Anne Heneghan 3 months
Mary Keville 9 months
Martin Murphy 5 months
Mary Barbara Murphy 5 months
Mary P Logue 5 months
Margaret E Cooke 6 months
Mary Ann Broderick 14 months
Ann Marian Fahy 4 months
Anne Dillon 4 months
Imelda Halloran 2 years
Joseph Gavin 10 months
Marian Brigid Mulryan 10 months
Mary C Rafferty 3 months
Nora Mary Howard 4 months
Joseph Dempsey 3 months
Patrick Walsh 3 weeks
Francis M Heaney 3 years
Dermot Gavin 2 weeks
Mary C Burke 3 years
Patrick Burke 1 year
Paul Henry Nee 5 months
Oliver Reilly 4 months
Gerard Connaughton 11 months
Rose Marie Murphy 2 years
Margaret Connaire 4 months
Stephen Noel Browne 2 years
Baby Fallon 4 days
Geraldine O’Malley 6 months
Dolores Conneely 7 months
Mary Maloney 4 months
Mary Carty 5 months

So I went to the Tuam Babies meeting to have my say, and then I realised I shouldn’t have one

I guess most of you already know the background to this. (For those unfamiliar with this story, be assured of its international significance. Check out, for example, this New York Times feature. Or this BBC Podcast. Or just go read Wikipedia.)

I’m from Tuam. This whole issue disturbs me on several levels. And the prospect of a cover-up is so very real. So I attended. And I said my piece.

The meeting was supposed to gauge opinion on what to do with the site: (a) leave everything as it is but erect a memorial to tell the world how much we care; or (b) fully excavate the mass grave, exhume and identify the remains, and return the lost loved ones to their grieving families and enable them to rest in peace after a formal and appropriate burial.

Spoiler alert — I was rooting for option (b).

Let’s cut to the chase. What we are dealing with here is a mass grave, one containing the remains of abused persons, people discarded as second-class citizens, coercively separated from their families, born in captivity, and denigrated with the zeal that only religious sanctimony and god-fearing hubris can muster.

It seems simply unconscionable that any humane society would respond to the revelation that nearly 800 babies have been interred in an unmarked grave — a septic tank, no less — and say, ‘Well…let’s just leave them there.’

And yet that is what was being proposed for Tuam.

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On Monday night, Katherine Zappone, Ireland’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs hosted the meeting, ostensibly a ‘public consultation’ to help her department to decide what to do with the site.

Yes, you heard correctly. The government are asking members of the public what to do with an unexpectedly discovered unmarked mass grave containing hundreds of unidentified remains.

As one attendee asked the Minister to her face, “What if a dead body was discovered in my garden? Would the police come around to ask me should they investigate?”

(Can you just imagine: “Would you mind if we retrieved the corpse? Or would you prefer we just leave it there in your garden forever? After all, it is your garden…“)

The idea of consultation is ridiculous. At best this is the scene of a catastrophe. In any other mass-casualty catastrophe, bodies would be retrieved and returned to families for proper burials. At worst — and actually this is most likely with Tuam — it is a crime scene. I am not a fan of CSI, but even I know you don’t ask bystanders whether or not you should cordon off and investigate a crime scene.

* * *

In fairness, it seemed to me that Minister Zappone personally wants to have all the remains exhumed, identified, and returned to families. The problem isn’t what the Minister would personally prefer. The problem is that the question was even being put.

The consultation approach creates multiple adverse consequences:

  • It creates unnecessary jeopardy, and potential conflict, by allowing at least some people to believe they have a right to prevent the authorities from exhuming these remains and exposing the full extent of what went on in Tuam. No doubt there will be people who want to not think about this whole issue. No doubt there will be some who want to cover it up. They will prefer if the authorities just walk away and leave well enough alone. But here’s the thing: criminal justice is not a democratic process. After all, sometimes the criminals — and their apologists — are in a majority. The whole infrastructure of abuse that the Irish Mother and Baby homes represent is simply a case in point.
  • It invites spurious rationalizing to support alternate courses of action, even when those courses of action are morally unjustified. For example, at the meeting in Tuam, Minister Zappone reported that her advisers were raising questions about whether the government has the legal authority to excavate the site. They told her that the coroner might first need evidence that a crime had been committed, or that unnatural deaths had occurred. But this logic falls on at least two counts: (a) in many cases you can’t accumulate such evidence unless you excavate a site and examine the remains in detail; and (b) it is always justified to retrieve bodies from disaster sites even when no crime has been committed, so the whole criminality dimension is moot. It’s a red herring. But raising the question in the first place just invites people to lob in their red herrings. It’s what bureaucrats (especially those who want to save the expense of an excavation) like to do.

* * *

Monday’s meeting followed publication of a hastily organised consultation survey conducted by Galway county council. That survey suggested that, while most survivor groups and relatives of those previously incarcerated in the Home wanted the site to be excavated, most local people wanted to memorialise rather than exhume.

That survey finding just doesn’t ring true to me. And when they heard it, it didn’t ring true to a lot of people resident in the town. So there was quite a bit of anger in the room on Monday night. Of the two hundred or so people who turned up, only one person said they wanted memorialisation and not excavation. Another man said he thought excavation was “pointless”, but he didn’t say it shouldn’t happen.

And that was it. Everyone else said very clearly — often very emotionally, passionately, and heart-rendingly — that they favoured complete excavation, exhumation, identification, and return. The consensus was utterly unambiguous.

Many mentioned how offended they were at the council’s claim that local people wanted to look the other way.

The vox populi is clear on this one (even though — to repeat myself — criminal justice is not a democratic process.)

* * *

20180723_190937_1280x720

Some people had speculated that the entire exercise had been contrived simply to cultivate local dissent, and so give the authorities an excuse to take whatever decision they wished. But in the end, Monday’s meeting gave them no such cover. The sentiment of the meeting was essentially unanimous: GET THESE PEOPLE OUT OF THE GROUND.

The media had been excluded (without a convincing rationale having been offered), but there were tweets. Oh boy, were there tweets. Here is one comprehensive thread:

@IzzyKamikaze live-tweeted extensively. Check out Izzy’s timeline from here forward. And here is a thread specifying Izzy’s own forceful speech in more detail:

I’m quoted in this one actually:

(As a result of which I ended up being quoted in HerFamily.ie’s report on the meeting. Oh, Twitter.)

And here is my own thread, for posterity:

* * *

Of course, the media ban did not prevent the media from reporting. And so obviously the main result of that was, you guessed it, misreporting. For example, this is from today’s Irish Times:

Local Fine Gael representative Cllr Peter Roche was at the meeting on Monday night, and he highlighted the fact that there were varying views on what should happen at the site and how sensitive an issue it was for the people of Tuam.

“It is a very emotional subject and there are no winners. There is no other way to describe it other than it’s very difficult to take sides in it. It is very, very complex,” said Mr Roche.

But Mr Roche (who, I should point out, seemed to have been pretty invisible on the night) is being overly vague when he says “there were varying views” on what should happen at the site. Because, quite simply, there were NOT varying views on what should happen at the site.

Again, to repeat, during a 2.5-hour meeting attended by 200 people, one lady spent five seconds saying that she, personally, would prefer to leave the site untouched.

Virtually the rest of the entire meeting was spent hearing an unbroken consensus to the contrary.

By no reasonable standard is that a variable, Mr Roche. It’s the opposite of a variable. It’s a constant.

* * *

But why would people object to the excavation solution? There are probably two reasons.

Firstly, no doubt some of the resistance comes from a residual sense of deference towards the Catholic church. Some of this will be from genuinely devout but nonetheless guilt-ridden mass-going locals, but some will be from the subset of Holy Joes (and Josephines) in the Irish civil service who’d rather the authorities not get involved in highlighting the atrocities of Catholic abuses in Ireland. (I’m just guessing here, of course. Maybe there are none of these people at all.)

Secondly, I assume the issue of financial cost will also come into play somewhere. I heard from that BBC podcast that the excavation might cost €5 million or so. I guess the government might not feel they have that type of cash to spend on such a process.

Mind you, they seem to have found €5 million fairly sharpish to fund this guy’s 36-hour trip to Ireland next month:

pontifex

(Pic: independent.ie)

So maybe, and again I’m just guessing here, maybe the costs might not be a convincing barrier after all. I mean, investigation and resolution of the Tuam Babies scandal is important to the Irish people, right?

Right?

* * *

By the way, here’s what real countries do when they discover mass unmarked graves, even when relating to fraught and troubling periods of their history:

texas

(HT: @bansheebabe)

You see, it can be done.

If you want to make your own feelings known to Minister Zappone, you can hit her up on Twitter here. I’m sure she’s a good person. Let’s hope she makes a good decision.

But in the end, it’s not even clear it’s her decision to make. This is a potential criminal justice matter. We don’t get to decide what happens by conducting a survey.

* * *

As I feebly said at last night’s meeting myself, if the site in Tuam is left alone and not properly excavated, then we are just replacing the old scandal with a new one.

The future will look back on 2018 and ask: How could we have been so callous?

The people who were committed to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home were put there by an uncaring society who looked upon them as second-class citizens. They lived their lives as social outcasts.

Let’s stop treating them as second-class citizens just because they’re dead. Let’s stop casting them out.

Minister Zappone, your legacy is calling.

End this shame now.

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