Tag Archives: Magdalene laundries

AP corrects Tuam reporting as Donohue blasts media coverage

The Associated Press issued an extended correction of its coverage of mid-20th century infant and child deaths at Tuam, County Galway. At the same time, Catholic League President Bill Donohue issued a blistering report about coverage of this story, the Magdalene Laundries and the movie “Philomena,” a drama that purports to tell the “true story” of a woman’s search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption from an Irish orphanage.

The story of nearly 800 bodies in unmarked graves at the Tuam orphanage for unwed mothers “caused stark headlines and stirred strong emotions and calls for investigation,” the AP says. “Since then, however, a more sober picture has emerged that exposes how many of those headlines were wrong. The case of the Tuam ‘mother and baby home’ offers a study in how exaggeration can multiply in the news media, embellishing occurrences that should have been gripping enough on their own.”

The story says one London editor “noted several top newspapers in the United States stated that 800 baby skeletons had been found in a septic tank, and that commentators fueled by a “Twitter mob” mentality compared the deaths to Nazi-era genocide.” Further evidence indicates there was no such septic tank, but rather a burial shaft that was common for the period.

Donohue quotes the same London editor in his spirited rebuke of the media coverage. The long-time church defender says,

The evidence that the public has been hosed is overwhelming. Truths, half-truths, and flat-out lies are driving all three stories. That’s a bad stew, the result of which is to whip up anti-Catholic sentiment. This is no accident.

Irish Central has done an extended interview with Donohue.

I tend to agree with Donohue that anti-Catholic bias colors at least some of the coverage. He rightly points out that many of those who claim to be shocked and dismayed about the treatment Irish nuns might or might not have subjected children to in the last century are only too willing to allow abortions to continue today. There’s more than whiff of hypocrisy.

New report links Irish state to Magdalene laundries

Irish and U.S. media are swarming with coverage of the latest government report about the notorious Magdalene laundries. The news here is state collusion with the Irish Catholic Church in running the abusive laundries.

Here’s a description from Time:

The laundries — a beneficent-sounding word that helped hide the mistreatment that took place inside their walls — were operated by four orders of Catholic nuns in Ireland from 1922 to 1996. Over 10,000 young women, considered a burden by family, school and the state, spent an average of six months to a year locked up in these workhouses doing unpaid, manual work. Some were kept there against their will for years. Their numbers were made up by unmarried mothers and their daughters, women and girls who had been sexually abused, women with mental or physical disabilities who were unable to live independently, and young girls who had grown up under the care of the church and the state. The laundries were “a mechanism that society, religious orders and the state came up with to try and get rid of people deemed not to be conforming to the so-called mythical, cultural purity that was supposed to be part of Irish identity,” [said] Irish historian Diarmaid Ferriter.

The horrors of the Magdalene laundries have been know about for years. Here’s a 1999 video report by 60 Minutes. Now “the Maggies” are waiting for an official apology from the Irish government.

Lest anyone think such abuse of children is unique to Irish or Catholic institutions, take a look at the excellent reporting of the Tampa Bay Times about the sordid history of the Florida School for Boys.