Aug 25, 2010

Is this really our country?

Is there no end to the crimes committed by the Church and State? The horror of the institutionalised rape, slavery and crimes against children carried out in Ireland is almost too much. Few read the reports of the investigations finally carried out on what actually happened to survivors of child abuse and the children interned in industrial schools. Since the foundation of the Republic of Ireland in 1921, Church and State have treated certain children as disposable, as less than human.

Since the publication of the Ryan report on industrial schools and the Murphy report on child sexual abuse within the diocese of Dublin, revelations on the treatment of Irish citizens in the twentieth century by the Church and State have undermined everything we believed about ourselves. And the revelations keep coming.

The Primate of All Ireland Sean Brady covered up the rape of children by paedophile Brendan Smyth allowing him to continue raping children for a further nineteen years. The publication of this information has not led to his resignation but rather to his adopting the persona of a “wounded healer”. This persona allows him to continue in his position and treat survivors of the Catholic Church’s brutality with utter contempt. His "wounding" is the discovery of his coverup.

Then there is the systematic mutilation of women by doctors both through symphysiotomy and corrupt individuals wielding a scalpel. There was no oversight because doctors were “self-regulating”. And the medical scandals have not ceased - unread x rays, trolleys, cancer misdiagnosis, surgeons removing the wrong kidney.

Now, we find out that children were used in medical experiments. These children were not those living at home with parents. These were children in mother and baby homes and industrial schools. Members of religious orders gave "consent", violating numerous ethical codes including that of Nuremberg, which was drawn up in the aftermath of the Nazi behaviour in concentration camps.

All of this was done by Irish people, ordinary Joe and Jane Soap. Our uncles, aunts, friends, parents participated or knew what was going on. We are all complicit. What sort of a fucked up country is this? The human rights violations continue on - children in care left on the street, rat infested schools, children in adult psychiatric wards and the children in care disappearing by the hundreds.

Something has to be done. The Murphy inquiry needs to be expanded to cover all dioeses. Victims who did not survive the industrial schools need to be identified and cause of death established. Serious reform or possible abolition of the HSE. The state needs to acknowledge ALL the human rights violations. Offering resignations is not enough. Firing, followed by criminal charges is a beginning.

Ireland has been a republic for less than 100 years and already we have violated human rights on an unprecedented scale. What sort of people are we?

1 comment:

lxoa said...

The abuses in the industrial schools go back a lot further than independence. The system (which is quintessentially Victorian) was established by the British government under the Industrial Schools Act (1868), and farmed out to religious orders.

In his book Priests and People in Ireland, published in 1902, Michael McCarthy notes:

"The industrial school, which the Christian Brothers conduct at Artane, is one of the great glories of clerical Dublin. The boys are marched through the city on every possible pretext, in ranks of two deep, sometimes accompanied by their band, and, whenever they appear, they form a most striking demonstration. One hears nothing but admiration expressed on all sides for the appearance and turnout of the boys. They defile past the astounded Dubliners like soldiers on parade. It has often occurred to me that such an enormous brigade of boys demonstrating through the city, instead of being a subject for congratulation, should be a subject for lamentation to the citizens. Assuming that they are all boys who have been genuinely convicted for vagrancy and begging before a magistrate, should we not regard it as a standing reproach to our city that such an army of young vagrants can be maintained in permanent strength from the delinquents of its population. But, assuming that a great part, or the majority of them, are boys who have been spuriously convicted of vagrancy and begging, is the display not even still more lamentable? It is bad enough to have real beggars in our midst, but it is far worse to have numbers of people who can work, but won't; parents who can support their children, but will connive at having them committed for crime to such institutions so that they may be supported by the State.

[...]I have known instances of priests having been drawn from amongst the pupils of industrial schools; and I am naturally led to ask the question, Is that why the priests are so keen upon the management of those State-supported schools? It is not right to depreciate a human being because of his lowly origin; but children, before admission to these schools, have to be convicted before a magistrate as vagrant beggars. If they are not absolutely tramps' children, they have to be put through the degradation of being sent on the street by an industrial school's pimp, and thus they court arrest at the hands of a collusive policeman. I actually saw the tragedy enacted in Grafton Street, Dublin, recently."