Tag Archives: Tuam

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.

Mother-and-baby home shame erupts in Ireland

Lurid headlines are erupting from Ireland about infant and child deaths, illegal adoptions and vaccine trials at mother-and-baby homes operated by Catholic-run institutions in the early to middle 20th century.

Here we go again, as if earlier scandals of priest sex abuse of children and the Magdalene laundries weren’t bad enough. This could be worse.

The story is evolving. Here’s a sampling of headlines and commentary:

Ireland Mother-and-Baby Home Inquiry May Delve Beyond Deaths, U.S. News & World Report.

The examination is expected to be part of a larger investigation called for by politicians and Catholic Church officials into the Catholic-run institutions, and comes in the wake of the recent discovery that nearly 800 babies died at the St. Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam between 1926 and 1961.

Ireland Investigating Complaints Against Unwed Mother Homes, The New York Times

Charlie Flanagan, Ireland’s minister for children, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that it was important “that a light be shone on these dark periods.” He added, “I believe that Tuam should not be looked at in isolation because over the last century we have had mother-and-baby homes right up and down the country.”

Discovering home truths in a society that failed mothers and their babies, The Irish Times 

The surprising thing about the Tuam disclosures is that we are surprised. Modern Ireland has an amazing capacity for self-induced amnesia. The systemic abuses that took place in industrial schools, mental hospitals, county homes and laundries were well documented but largely ignored.

Learning from the past can be a disturbing process. It involves an examination of failures and the acceptance of hurtful conclusions. It means making amends for past societal wrongs. It should establish why certain things happened, rather than heap blame on those who implemented policy. An examination of current discriminatory practices would also help. As a society, we have an uncomfortable road to travel.

Ireland was no country for young women but for men another story, Irish Central 

What Ireland did with the help and instruction of the religious orders in the twentieth century was to remove love and responsibility from each man’s actions, by replacing them with judgment and condemnation.

The society they created together is what we’re looking at now. We know now that tens of thousands of Irishmen abandoned the women they impregnated and the child that was the result, over and over again, for most of the the 20 century.

They did this without injury to their livelihoods or reputations. They discovered they could walk between the raindrops, so they did.