This is a version of a comment I left on the article in today’s Irish Times by Kathy Sheridan, which is titled ‘Casting a fresh eye on the Tuam controversy‘
I agree with Kathy Sheridan that it is all too convenient to cast the Catholic Church as the fons et origo of the Tuam Mother-and-Baby home. She is right to draw attention to the fact that such institutions were part of a broader landscape of misogyny, squalor and degradation, and that Ireland was not the only country in which such things happened. She is also right to draw attention to the economic considerations that sustained what she describes as Ireland’s ‘moral dustbins’.
However, it is also all too convenient to lump together all expressions of scepticism of the Irish Times’s approach to these matters as a kneejerk response. As other Irish Times contributors have rightly noted, in echo of what others are saying, the Tuam mother-and-baby re-discovery prompts us to look at how an oppressive past continues to inform oppression in the present.
What is more, Ireland’s contemporary institutions -political, legal, educational, health- are the product of this oppressive past. Is it reasonable to expect that the Irish Times, which has a track record of identifying with the priorities of Ireland’s power elites, can subject this issue to the fullest possible examination?
How, for example, given that Kathy Sheridan rightly highlights the economic dimension to this oppression, would you expect an institution that continues to present austerity policies as the common sense course of action -despite its patently obvious and wide-ranging destructive effects- to examine the social, economic and political factors behind things like the Tuam mother-and-baby home?
It seems all the more unwise to expect the Irish Times to examine these issues in their fullest meaning given that it habitually resorts to a differentiation between the views of the uninformed, fickle and easily inflamed public on the one hand, and the views of a coolly rational and far-sighted technocratic elite on the other, a trait unfortunately reproduced in this otherwise insightful article