November 17, 2013

Ireland the not so immaculate

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid with Éamon de Valera
The Sunday Times journalist Siobhán Maguire (@ShivMag) wrote in Sunday Times of November 10 2013 on the inaccuracies of the Judi Dench and Steve Coogan film, 'Philomena'. She cited the co-founder of Adoption Rights Alliance, Susan Lohan who said:
"The film, though well produced and well acted, fails because it confuses mother-and-baby homes with Magdalene laundries. They weren't Magdalenes - they were unmarried mothers... I think that took away from the horror at the core of the film."
Susan Lohan added:
"It was like, 'Here we go again, another diminishment of what the Irish state did to its own citizens'. The issue here is that, from watching the film, you might have been lulled into thinking Philomena's case was an anomaly because there is zero acknowledgement of all the other women whose babies were trafficked to America."
She further explained her pain in watching the film:
"I wanted to stand up and scream during a screening and ask people if they knew how systematic the mother-and-baby homes were, that the state paid for this service and the church tendered for the business.
The film fails to inform viewers that Philomena's situation is identical to that of 100,000 natural parents whose children remained in Ireland and who still have no right to get in touch with ther children regardless of whether or not the adoption was a forced one."


Robbie Roulston reported on the 1952 Adoption Act in the Irish Times here. He reported here:
"The hierarchy of the Catholic Church was given an unusual degree of control even by the prevailing standards in the State. Every line of the proposed Bill was sent to the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, John Charles McQuaid, for his scrutiny. McQuaid proofed the legislation and insisted “the safeguards must be such as the church considers sufficient to protect faith and morals. 
To ward off “the evils of proselytism” these safeguards sought to bar couples in mixed- religious marriages from adopting children, and more glaringly prevented the child of such a couple, for instance in the case of an orphan, from being adopted."
The film Philomena is chilling. But the wider story is terrifying. It is fantastically stark for myself, a supporter of the union with Great Britain, to see that the history of Ireland was not immaculate or free from criticism. To the very obvious contrary. I say this not as a fierce opponent of Irish nationalism. No. I say it as someone who is very aware that gross mistakes heinous mismanagement was committed acros the board. Ireland and Irish nationalists do not have a monopoly or ownership over grievance and hurt. The opposite would be a most hideous distortion of both history and reality.

Murphy report. Ryan report. Mahon Tribunal. Magdalene laundries. Industrial schools. Mother-and-baby homes. It was awful but we have to face up to it.
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