The report two days ago on the Magdelene Laundries, is just another insight into the shameful history of our ‘great’ country over the past seventy years or so. Details of how ten thousand women were institutionalised under state run programs, namely the Laundries, and used as slave labour.
The treatment of these women by the nuns who ran the laundry, by the state who sponsored these programs and by society as a whole who chose to look the other way is a disgrace and is, and should be, a cause of national shame. This is just another example of Irelands backwards and immoral behaviour. For the past twenty years we have been hearing stories about the abuse of young children at the hands of certain members of the Catholic Church. How these events were covered up by the hierarchy within the Church and on the same hand, by the State.
Since our independence from The United Kingdom our leaders at the time saw fit to throw ourselves headlong into a co-dependent relationship with the Catholic Church. Therefore, in essence, giving the Church almost as much power and status as the State itself. Not long after, industrial schools, where many young boys lost their lives as well as their innocence, were built across the country. Laundries were built where young ‘immoral’ women would undergo a similar fate. But it was not to these buildings alone that the evils of certain members of the church and state resided. No. You were not even safe from your own home. Such was the power and status of the Parish Priest, that he could enter your home and pick you up, bring you to his home, molest you, return you to your own home, and no one would be the wiser. Quite often, if anyone dared speak up, they would not be believed.
All of these actions. These despicable, heinous, evil actions, were known about, were covered up and pushed under the carpet by people at the top of the chain. People high up in both the church and the state. You can read all about these reports that have been released in the past few years, online. Their verdicts are both incriminating and damning to both the Church leaders at the time (some of them still in positions of power within the church) and leaders of our state, since deceased or retired. I was surprised to know that the last of the Magdelene Laundries was not closed until 1996. Four years shy of the 21st century. You imagine these are the kind of things that happen or happened in years gone by. Well, unfortunately not. Institutions such as these may be a thing of the past but evil and immoral behaviour seems not to be.
The Catholic Church is still fighting against compensation for the people who were abused. Enda Kenny, our Taoiseach, still has not apologised for the damning report that came out just a few days ago. It appears that although abuse may have stopped in the way it used to be, by not getting on their hands and knees and begging for mercy on behalf of their predecessors, this government and the Catholic Church are committing abuse of a different kind.
Finally, one last point. It is not just the Church and State that need to be addressed here. Yes, they were culpable and were the chief criminals because they were who we trusted and were in positions of power, but there were ordinary everyday people who knew what was going on, too. These individuals, whoever they were (just like the ‘ordinary citizens’ of Nazi Germany who knew about the concentration camps) need to be held to account retrospectively, too. These are people who will never be brought to court or charged with any crime. Yet I hope their conscience suffers and has suffered for letting such behaviour carry on while they knew about.
Evil thrives when good men do nothing. Apparently in this country, doing nothing but ‘minding your own business’ and covering things up is something that has carried forward to this very day.