Saturday, March 04, 2017

Harrowing end to a week of disclosures

FOR generations we have known the Great Famine as the Irish Holocaust.

Even at this remove it is hard to overstate the horrors inflicted on the Irish poor almost 200 years ago. 

Contemporary events may not match An Gorta Mór in scale but, in terms of avoidable suffering, they are as horrifying. 

In a week that the full horrors of the Grace abuse scandal were at last made public, humanity’s timeless capacity for cruelty was again highlighted. 

That the week was bookended by the confirmation that the remains of a large number of children were found at a former mother-and-baby home in Tuam just confirms that sad reality.

Historians suggest that 796 infants died in Tuam between 1925 and 1961. 

This is a rate of around one child dying every two weeks for nearly 40 years. 

It is unknown how many of these are represented in the grim discovery just made public.

Anyone who imagines that these issues are historic is wrong. 

Those who neglected Grace are alive and just this week, abuse survivor Marie Collins felt obliged to resign from the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors because of unwavering opposition to change. 

Almost 200 years have passed since the Famine and it is still impossible to understand how it was deliberately allowed to wreak such havoc. 

It may take even longer to understand how this society, our flesh and blood, turned a blind eye to the evil so active in Tuam and other institutions like it.

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