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Jun 24 2014

Half the children housed in the institution died in 1925

Imagine an orphanage where news that the mortality rate for the last year was 19% was good news. That was the mother and baby home in Pelletstown in Dublin in 1930. While fatalities had undeniably fallen, the fact remained that 66 – or almost one in five – of the 336 children housed in Pelletstown …

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Jun 08 2014

Not dumped but…carefully placed?

Catherine Corless isn’t happy about the way the discussion of the Tuam mother and baby home has gone. She doesn’t like the framing. ‘I never used that word ‘dumped’,” Catherine Corless, a local historian in Co Galway, tells The Irish Times. “I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank. That did not …

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Jun 05 2014

An inquiry into the circumstances behind so many deaths

Good. The discoveries about the Tuam mortality figures are making a stink in Ireland. Good. There is growing pressure on the Government to hold a full historical inquiry into the deaths of almost 800 children in a mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway between the 1920s and the 1960s. There were numerous calls from TDs, Senators …

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May 03 2014

ReMorePlusAgain sophistification

This time it’s a piece in the Irish Times, by Joe Humphreys, about a new book by Richard Kearney, who is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. What the article neglects to mention is that Boston College is Catholic. The subject is familiar – the current discussion of theism and atheism is simplistic and …

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Apr 13 2014

Calvary

I heard a discussion of a new movie, Calvary, on BBC Radio 4′s Saturday Review yesterday; it sounds pretty damn interesting. The Irish Times has a review. The predictably flawless Brendan Gleeson plays Father James Lavelle, a decent priest serving the needs of an absurdly colourful Sligo community, whose world is upended by an unexpected encounter in …

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Nov 04 2013

Loosen the screws, the better to tighten them

Hmm, it’s good to get rid of a blasphemy law, but it’s not good to replace it with “a new general provision to include incitement to religious hatred” – meaning, apparently, to include something that forbids so-called incitement to religious hatred. Unfortunately that’s just what Ireland’s constitutional convention has recommended, according to the Irish Times. …

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Sep 11 2013

Vaccines undermine “divine providence”

At the end of August, epidemiologists in Texas traced a measles outbreak to people who attended a particular megachurch, the pastor of which has preached against vaccinations. The pastor has apparently repented that stupid move. Fortunately, that outbreak was able to be pretty well-contained — after the disease sickened about 21 people, Texas issued a public health …

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Jul 17 2013

If you can’t leave, that’s prison

The Taoiseach has told the religious orders to have a serious think about their refusal to pay any compensation to the women who did slave labor in the Magdalen laundries for decades. This was a for-profit business the orders were running, and the women got literally no payment at all. That’s slavery, and a pretty …

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Jul 12 2013

The culture that has absorbed the poisonous misogyny of the Catholic Church

Well Vincent Browne is blunt. Tonight the (almost) all-male parliament will vote to imprison a woman, for up to 14 years, who refuses to give her body to the sustenance of another human being, irrespective of almost all circumstances. It is irrespective of whether the pregnancy would do serious and irreversible harm to her health …

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Jul 12 2013

There was suffering somewhere

In Ireland, chapter 20 of the Murphy Report has just been published. Three former Archbishops of Dublin have been criticised in trenchant terms in a previously unpublished section of a report on the handling of child abuse cases in Dublin. Archbishops Dermot Ryan, Kevin McNamara and Cardinal Desmond Connell are named in Chapter 20 of …

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