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Showing posts from May, 2018

Nobody could have imagined how much Ireland has changed

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For a country which used to lock single mothers up in laundries for the ‘crime’ of having children right up until the 1980s, Ireland has utterly changed.

A country which branded a woman who became pregnant for a second time as a “repeat offender” seems to belong to a different planet from the Republic which voted overwhelmingly in favour of abortion rights on Friday.

Gone are the days when children were taken from their mothers in Mother and Baby Homes throughout the country, in some cases to be adopted by “good” Catholic families in the United States, perhaps illegally and certainly against the wishes of the heartbroken women.

In many cases, Gardai, priests, or family members had transferred the young women to those bleak homes, because the shame of having a baby outside marriage was too much to share with neighbours or friends. Those women just “disappeared”.

For those of us who were too young to vote on the Eighth Amendment in 1983, which gave equal rights to the mother and the un…

Farewell to the land of shame

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It can be very empowering when the marginalised, the denigrated, and the shamed overcome their fear and find their voices.

In a quiet Galway graveyard last year, I heard an amazing man tell a heartbreaking truth with unbelievable conviction and power in his voice.

Where, he wanted to know, was his little sister?

Why was nobody giving him any answers?

It brought tears to many an eye to hear him speak his truth. I stood there, stunned in admiration, listening to a man who had been told he was worthless for much of his life.

Born into a horrible institution, fostered out to a family who beat and abused him; dealing with the terrible stigma of being branded as “illegitimate” as he set off on his journey through life.

And now, late in life, he had found out that he had a little sister who may or may not have been buried in a septic tank.

I marvelled at the conviction in the voice of a man who had found love and become a good father against all the odds, despite rather than because of a la…

Is it time to stop punishing tragedy?

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On the daytime radio show in which the host gets paid almost €500,000 per year to hear the concerns of the ‘plain people’ of Ireland, I heard a middle-aged man proclaim his total opposition to the repeal of the Eighth Amendment this week.
If his daughter became pregnant because of rape, he told the host, he sincerely hoped she would choose to keep the child rather than go through with an abortion.
A few weeks earlier, in a vast hall, I heard a woman tell an audience of about 400 people that the act of giving birth “heals the effect of rape”.
She called on the people at the Save the Eighth campaign launch in the West of Ireland to stop rape from happening rather than kill an unborn child.
She didn’t explain how that could be done.
At the same event, a woman told me that the proposed legislation for unrestricted abortion would bring a culture of ‘social’ abortion to Ireland.
I was shocked.                                                      

She made it sound as though some women dec…