Bill Donohue, the president of the conservative-leaning Catholic League, yesterday called the Tuam mother and babies home reports that have gripped Ireland and the world’s media a “hoax” and “mass hysteria.”
Donohue does not dispute that 800 children and infants did in fact die at the Tuam home because their death records are already a matter of public record. He is simply contradicting some reports that their graves have been found.
Critics counter that the question isn’t where the children are buried – no one, including Donohue knows the answer to that yet – the question is how many more Catholic run homes had similar disproportionately high mortality rates?
After a clarification issued by the Associated Press at the weekend over earlier claims made in the case, Donohue insisted his skepticism had been vindicated.
“There is no mass grave,” he told IrishCentral in an interview on Monday. “If there is then someone needs to tell me where it is. Catherine Corless (the local historian who traced each child’s death record) doesn’t say that there is one at this point.”
Continued Donohue: “It comes on the heels of the other malarkey about the Magdalene Laundries (Donohue doesn’t believe that Irish women confined in them suffered or were abused there, working without pay, often for life).
“The McAleese report pretty much discounted that and Martin Sixsmith (the English journalist who wrote the book about Philomena Lee on which the recent film was based) whose contempt for Catholicism is indisputable, and the lies that he told about Philomena Lee."
But the startling number of deaths at the home – an estimated 796 infants and children – is not disputed by Donohue.
“No, the average of 22 a year is about right,” he says. (In fact in one year alone 57 children died in the home.)
Continued Donohue: “Given the conditions the kids were in when the nuns acquired them, and given the fact that people in these homes died prematurely with these so-called fallen women in these homes and orphanages, I’m not doubting that at all.
“I’m sure the conditions by the standards of 2014 were horrible. I think there’s an awful lot of exaggeration going on. I’m not doubting that the conditions were harsh and some kids were probably mistreated.
“But this kind of hysteria that I’ve seen in Ireland, England and the United States fits like a glove with the Magdalene Laundries and Philomena Lee. It’s very disturbing to me that there’s such an appetite to believe the very worst about these nuns.
IrishCentral: But we know these children died by the hundred and we know their graves are all unmarked. Isn’t that shameful in itself?
Donohue: “I suppose if the worst were true it would be disturbing. But it wouldn’t reach the level of this inflammatory rhetoric I hear from people comparing it to the Holocaust.”
People were perhaps trying to convey that these children belong to an underclass, that their fate didn’t matter; their lives weren’t even recorded in the end.
Well now the AP is walking it back. They’re saying that in fact these kids were baptized.
Their births may have been marked but their deaths weren’t.
If that is true –
We know that’s true. The graves are unmarked so we can’t find the graves yet, no one can. I’m concerned to hear anyone call it a hoax when we already have their death records, we know these children died, we just don't know where they are. That’s the issue, is it not?