This is no cause for being ashamed

I will scream if I hear one more person say they are ‘ashamed to be Irish’ on account of Savita Halappanavar’s death, or that it is a cause for ‘national shame’. One, there is nothing special about being Irish and her death has nothing to do with your ‘Irishness’. Two, you may have noticed that shame has been a weapon wielded by the patriarchal oppressor classes in Ireland for centuries, with an abundance of well-known and thoroughly brutal examples, particularly against women, to be found in the history of Ireland’s state institutions, including hospitals. Shame, as a psycho-social relation, isolates. It freezes in time and space, it neutralises and paralyses, and it dissipates anger. That is what makes it such an effective weapon. No-one ever embraced anyone else on account of a shared feeling of shame. No-one ever locked arms on the street in a protest because they were ashamed. Savita’s death is a cause for rage at injustice, and those who talk of shame are getting in the way.

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