World of Politics with Harry McGee
This week offered two very good examples of the failings of Irish society – past and present – with the publication of the report into the mother and baby homes, and the coronavirus crisis unfolding before our eyes. The 6,000 page report on 18 institutions – operating at various times after the foundation of the State in 1922 right up to the 1990s – was inspired by the research of Galway historian Catherine Corless, and her invaluable work in understanding why there was such a discrepancy between the mortality records and burial records at the Bon Secours-run home in Tuam.
As is usual with Irish politics, there was a row about its launch. The Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, had promised survivors of the homes that they would find out about its details before anybody else.
Unfortunately, as so often happens these days, somebody in Government decided it would be a good idea to leak the main findings of the report ahead of its launch.
O’Gorman was incensed; he demanded an investigation and wrote to survivors telling them he was “deeply angered” by all that had happened.
You can see why. In the past, survivors of these institutions have learned of very important and salient information through the media, rather than from Government.
On December 3, O’Gorman promised survivors that he and the Taoiseach would disclose the main findings to them first, and then host a seminar (it’s web-based now, because of restrictions) and only then would the report be published.
But what happened on Sunday played puck with the plan. It also served as a huge distraction from what should have been a formal process, where the pain, the suffering and heartbreak caused by these cruel institutions were fully acknowledged and apologised for.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Gardaí seek help in locating missing man
Gardaí have sought help in locating a man missing in Galway since the end of December.
34-year-old Luke Davoren was last seen in the University Road area on December 30.
He is described as having fair hair, 6ft in height and having an athletic build. He was last seen wearing a grey hoody, brown leather jacket, blue jeans and brown leather boots. He also had a black back pack in his possession.
Gardaí and Luke’s family are very concerned for his welfare and have urged him to make contact.
Anyone with information, particularly any road users with dash cam footage of the Newcastle/University Road areas between 1am – 2am on December 30, is asked to contact Galway Garda Station on 091 538000.
Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.
Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.
Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.
Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.
The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.
It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.
That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.
Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Suffer little children – report shines a light into shameful past
The final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes shines a light into the darkest recesses of our shameful past; young women and tiny babies neglected by Church and State – fellow, frail human beings whose lives and deaths somehow didn’t matter at all.
These women and their children were punished, hidden out of sight; mistreated at best; physically and sexually abused at worst – and way, way too many were left to die without a shred of dignity in their lives or in their passing.
The Trojan work and dedication of people like Catherine Corless lifted the stone on the shame – but it is only in their shocking stories, as we’ve read and heard this week, that we can get any sense of the depths of this depravity.
Many of the mothers were little more than children themselves, who had their little babies taken from them and given away with even a sliver of consent.
There were no records of their adoption, and no willingness, even decades later, to help those babies to find their birth mothers. Because to do so would have exposed the cruel and heartless manner of their forced adoptions in the first place.
And yet exposing this scandal is only the first step; an apology was the very least they were entitled to. Now we as a nation, and particularly those religious orders who ran the homes, must do everything to redress this wrong.
We must open the files so that they can discover their full life stories, find their living relatives, and be compensated so that at least the rest of their lives are in complete contrast to all they’ve endured until now.
We need to look at how we can give hundreds of innocent babies a proper burial – however belated and insufficient that may be.
Nothing will undo the damage – but now that the depths of this depravity have finally been laid bare, there must be no equivocation, no prevarication; just a commitment to doing whatever it takes to try and right a terrible wrong.
See full coverage of the Commission’s Report in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie