Sunday, 8 June 2014

800 Tuam babies' grave. Different back then?

With all the bullshit of the 1916 rising centenary awaiting us, it might be timely to consider the “visions” of  some of its participants, namely the faction of bourgeoisie nationalists who won out and came to power in the end.

Padraig Pearse achieved his blood sacrifice, of course, something he held in high regard.  He envisaged a tee-total, Gaelic-speaking, Catholic Ireland (see Tom Garvin, Preventing the Future: How Ireland stayed so poor for so long).   That’s “revolution”, Irish-style.

Mercifully, the Brits put a bullet in Pearse – sadly, however, they left de Valera alive and well in order to impose his vision of a rural, conservative, Catholic, ill-educated backwater of Europe on the new State.   He succeeded splendidly.

Hence the latest revelation of 800 babies, mostly the offspring of “unmarried mothers”, 
who died in this brave new State’s care at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Galway.   The mortality rate of 35% at this institution was far higher than in general, and the dead babies were put in a large unmarked mass grave.  One might be forgiven for concluding there was a deliberate policy of neglect in order to rid  the pure new Ireland of inconvenient "illegitimates".

You might have thought there would be outrage now in Ireland at this, but no.  It’s just another scandal and it was a long time ago.

Not as long ago as the Vikings, the Norman invasion, the Tudor plantation and the famine, of course – which many Irish “remember” like yesterday, indoctrinated as they are, and still swear revenge for.   Predictably, the Gaelic version of Irish identity foisted on us carefully forgets the fact that Ireland's original inhabitants – the ones who built Newgrange – were a pre-Celtic people.  

But back to the matter of the 800 babies.  Things were different back then, you see, when the Irish State’s genocide of “illegitimate” babies was going on in religious and State institutions, with the acquiescence of the Garda and the Irish Peeple themselves.  So move on, forgive and forget and all that. It's all in the past.

Have a look at this Indo article on the topic, and how many of the comments on the article take such a tack.   “Things were different then”.  That’s OK then.

Things were different in Europe when the Jews were being rounded up and murdered by the then German State authorities.  The difference is Anti-semitic attitudes in Germany and elsewhere have since been addressed, and lessons on the dangers of narrow myth-based nationalism have been learned

The problem in Ireland, is that things really aren’t that much different at all.