The Tuam Baby Scandal

By Fra Hughes – November 2, 2020

When the sins of the ‘Father’ are visited upon the child.

The horrors of the Magdalene Laundries and the mother and baby homes run and operated by the Catholic church in Ireland, have been a source of pain for their victims, injustice for the families and cries of cover-up levelled at the government of the day..

The Magdalene Asylums were more commonly known to many, as the Magdalene Laundries

These institutions were run by both Protestant and Catholic groups.

The first Magdalene Institution was opened in England in White Chapel in 1758. There were over 300 Magdalene Asylums in Englan with some also to be found in Scotland

The United States, Canada, Sweden and Ireland.

They were homes operated ostensibly to help, ‘fallen women’ who had become pregnant having children out of wedlock. They were accused of promiscuity. On occasions, husbands with the consent of a doctor could have their wives committed to the Asylums against the wishes of the women in question and in many instances, there was no medical reason to have the women detained.

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As the name suggests these institutions were primarily for women whom the church ‘at that time’ had little or no moral Christian compassion for.those whose lives, characters or circumstances had fallen short or outside of the strict puritanical teachings of the literal interpretation of the bible?.

These women were to seen walk in the shadow and the shoes of Mary Magdalene. A female disciple of Jesus whom the church branded as a prostitute?.

The story of the Magdalen laundries is one of brutal institutionalised repression. The women many just young teenagers were forced to work in prison-like conditions. Once committed to the Institution they had to labour for their keep.

They endured long hours of arduous work. Beatings from the nuns trafficked at times for the sexual gratification of priests and others and condemned literally to a life of servitude within the confines of the Magdalene Laundries, whose main purpose appears to have been punishing the fallen women and making large profits for the Catholic Church.

After more than two centuries the last Magdalene closed in 1996.

While these institutions were opened initially by Protestant Churches in the late 18th century the Catholic Church opened them also in late 19th and early 20th centuries in Ireland.

These Laundries by no means operated in isolation.

There were parallel institutions known as Mother and Baby homes. One known as the’ Bon Secours Mother and Baby home’ was based in Tuam, County Galway and operated between 1925 and 1961.

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It was a home for unmarried mothers and their children.

These homes purported to be a refuge for pregnant mothers and teenagers who were having a child outside of wedlock.

Ireland at that time was in the grip of the Catholic Church, which had a huge influence both politically and socially within Irish society.

These places of refuge were seen by those who availed of their services as a place to hide from the scrutiny and the scourge of public judgement and many of thousand of young girls and women entered into these homes.

The Catholic Church operated and ran many of the homes between 1904 and 1996.

As reported in many of the national papers both in Ireland and Britain, up to 35,000 women and girls passed through these homes.

It is reported that up 6000 babies may have died during this time.

There were approximately 18 homes. An Inquiry set up by the Irish Government around 2015 was set to investigate up to 4 of these homes..Accusations have surfaced that the nuns and the administrators of the homes took the babies from their mothers shortly after their birth and sold them to prospective adoptive parents in America while falsifying false death certificates leading their mothers to believe the children had died.

Babies for Sale?

In 2017 significant human remains were found in the grounds of the former Ben Secours mother and baby home in Tuam. Upon excavation it is thought up to 800 remains of children were discover there. Ranging from premature babies to kids as young as three years olds. These babies and young children were buried in an unmarked unsanctified mass grave.

On average a child died in the Tuam care home every 2 weeks.

Although the original building was levelled in the1970’s and a housing estate was built on the site, an Inquiry was set up into the running of these homes that has now been concluded.

The Irish Government has been trying to pass a law which would effectively seal all the information gathered from the survivors of these mother and baby homes detailing what happened to them and their babies. It may limit access to the victims, their families, researchers and human rights groups seeking to demystify abuses by the home operators and perhaps criminal acts such as rape perpetrated on some of the young women in their care?

The State stands accused of trying to suppress information which should be made available to the people of Ireland, by sealing the records for the next 30 years?

While they claim this is to protect the victims, many believe it is to protect the guilty?

How much of this effort to suppress the truth may be traced back to the close nature and relationship between church and state?

We are told this interlocking between State and Church no longer exists.

Yet here we are in two thousand and twenty with a government supported by the Green Party of Ireland trying to deny the victims and the rest of us from learning the complete truth.

Who are Micheal Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan ( all men ) really trying to protect?



(The North Belfast Journal) 

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