Dear Editor, Victims of the mother and baby homes deserve every apology and compensation. Most of these ladies were young and innocent, many of them were sexual victims of employers and others known to them. Their treatment was cruel and inhumane. We need to place the blame where it belongs. Firstly, they were abandoned by parents who didn’t want to be ashamed in the eyes of their neighbours. The men who impregnated them took no responsibility and escaped justice. Some survivors tell us that many of the nuns were good and kind, and there is no excuse for those who were not. Some of the nuns were unhappy women, who were living frustrated lives.
It is ironic that today in Ireland, thousands of little babies are being killed in their mothers’ wombs, and those who legislated for it cannot see that this is also a shameful time in our history. The little ones are victims, once again.
Raheen, Co. Limerick
A society that preferred ‘out of sight, out of mind’
Dear Editor, In the years under investigation in the mother and baby homes inquiry, fathers, families and society at large washed their hands of responsibility for young girls and women who were pregnant outside of marriage. Institutions provided a handy ‘out of sight, out of mind’ solution.
Two thirds of the Irish electorate chose to wash their hands, yet again, with the legalisation of abortion in 2018. In the oft quoted words of French writer, critic, journalist and novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Kerr, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (The more things change, the more they stay the same).
Leitrim Village, Co. Leitrim
Misogyny is still alive in Dáil Éireann
Dear Editor, I watched the Taioseach and the Tánaiste apologise in the Dáil on Tuesday, January 13, on behalf of the State to women and children who were in mother and baby homes. The appalling cruelty visited upon those unfortunate women and their children stank of hypocrisy from all quarters of Irish society and rightly deserves to be condemned.
The report mentioned it appears that some 9,000 children died in eighteen institutions over approximately seventy years.
The apologies given by Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar deserve some scrutiny however since both of these men publicly campaigned for abortion. Not only that but they dismantled the legal framework that protected the innocent lives of the unborn i.e. the Eight Amendment. To then castigate those who colluded in illegally imprisoning women and their children in what were supposed refuges, and in separating children from their mothers, is hypocritical when one considers the effects of the 2018 abortion legislation.
It seems misogyny is still alive and well in Dáil Éireann. And men still talk out of both sides of their mouths simultaneously.
Ashbourne, Co. Meath
A balanced view of history needed
Dear Editor, As I reflected and prayed deeply and sorrowfully after hearing reports from mother and baby homes, I could not help but recall other stories. Several people I have spoken to in the past who made efforts to research their family tree had to stop for they came across some news that was better left in the past, eg. one family in particular discovered murder and crime in their family line.
In my biblical studies, we were taught stories in the Old Testament had to be read in the history, culture and context of the time of writing. So many who have not had the privilege of biblical study, find these stories revolting, unbelievable and shocking. I feel when it comes to mother and baby homes, we need the history, culture and context of the time to be kept in mind. I’m aware these were very dark times and some experienced much pain and deep suffering; but I am also aware some had better experiences and were given opportunities and possibilities that they may not have had elsewhere. I know some of these people, and their stories are good and their hearts are grateful. As in everything else, we must have a balance and we must keep history, culture and education of the time in mind.
I pray for forgiveness for all the wrong that has been done, I pray for healing for those who have been hurt and I pray in gratitude for all the good that has been done and is being done especially in this Covid time. God bless all.
Sr Susan Evangelist
Drumkeen, Co. Donegal
Journalists should champion freedom of speech
Dear Editor, It is extraordinary to see media outlets, with all the advantages at their disposal, cowering behind a ban on the highly irresponsible bluster and politicking of President Donald Trump. The first duty of the journalist is to champion freedom of speech and freedom of expression, to fact-check claims and statements, not to ban them. It is also well to remember that freedom of speech and freedom of expression are fundamental to our cherished democracies.
Fr J. Anthony Gaughan
Blackrock, Co. Dublin
Fathers must own up to their responsibility
Dear Editor, I just read an article on the deaths in mother and baby homes between 1922 and 1998 which says 9,000 babies died in these homes during that period.
Advances in modern medicine have dramatically reduced the number of child deaths in modern times.
It is easy to rush to judgement in the case of child deaths in the mother and baby homes. But the issue must be viewed in its historical context. At present we have the luxury of the latest mod cons in our well-ventilated heated homes. Childcare services are available for all including working mothers. There are a vast array of social welfare services for single mothers including social housing. Contraception ensures family planning is the order of the day. Even with that up to 6000 women per year avail of abortion provided and funded by the State.
The fact that more babies and young children died in mother and baby homes is not surprising as none of these children would have individual care. There would have been no parent getting up in the middle of the night to change them or walk the floor with them till they fell asleep. There would be no specially trained staff in child care it did not feature in education until recently. If one child got any infection it would be passed on to all the other children in the same dormitory. No baby formula became available till well into the 1960s or 1970s. Disposable nappies did not exist either.
But one issue that needs to be highlighted in this context is the question of fatherhood. Justice demands that those fathers who abandoned those young pregnant girls should be obliged to own up to their responsibility. Justice must be seen to be done even in retrospect. Families too have to take the share of the blame when they abandoned their vulnerable young daughters.
Bowling Green, Galway