Saturday, 22nd September 2018
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Yet another dark chapter

When the news broke about the illegal adoption of nearly two hundred children it was like a case of deja vu. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that it was another ‘dark chapter’ in the country’s history but it seems that when it comes to Ireland’s social history all that we have is dark chapters. Mother and baby homes, Magdalene Laundries, clerical child sexual abuse and the Church covering up clerical child sexual abuse. All of it part of Ireland’s history and all of it inextricably bound up with this country’s history with the catholic church. The issue of illegal adoptions, where children were adopted and their new parents names placed on the children’s birth certificates, goes back nearly fifty to seventy years ago at a time when there was a huge stigma about the whole issue of birth outside of marriage. It also goes back to a time when the State abdicated it’s responsibilities and the church was only too happy to take up where the State ended. It is quite easy to place all of the blame on the church but that would be ignore the State’s culpability at that time. It would also be ignoring the deeply conservative nature of Irish society at that time as well. It would seem that the church was only too willing to step in when the State wiped it’s hands of what should have been it’s responsibilities.

The result however was a catastrophe with the church thinking that it had an inalienable right to a say in how Irish society developed and would brook no opposition. To a large extent the various Government’s of the day left this continue and it is only recently that Irish people, after long and painful scandals, have been willing to call not only the church but politicians to account. It is with background in mind that the recent scandal involving illegal adoptions came to light. Indeed, as it was said in the Dail, the issue has been brought up before but nothing was ever effectively done to fully investigate and remedy the issue. It seems that now there is a whole new outlook on how society views social issues. The recent referendum on repealing the 8th Amendment is only one of the areas in which the Irish people have come together to ensure that a new and inclusive voice is heard. We now have divorce in Ireland as well as gay marriage.

Ireland with it’s young population is outward looking and as the huge vote to repeal the 8th testifies far ahead of some of it’s more conservative politicians. It seems that when the Irish people are given a voice it is for a more caring and compassionate society then we have had heretofore. There is no doubt that there will be more ‘dark chapters’ unearthed, unfortunately that seems to be the way society develops, but with a more caring and compassionate society developing hopefully they will become all the rarer.


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