The big stories for 2019 are mostly signposted but I consider the Tuam babies scandal to be potentially the biggest of all. Yes, folks bigger than Brexit, which has utterly dominated the news in 2018.
The announcement that the excavations of the underground sewer will commence was made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
"We anticipate that there'll be excavations in Tuam in the latter half of 2019 because we have to pass legislation in the Oireachtas giving us, the Government, the power to do the excavations," said the Irish leader, according to RTÉ.
"Because, for lots of reasons, we don't have the power to do that.
"So we'll have to pass that legislation in the New Year, and we'd envisage carrying out the first excavations in the second half of 2019.”
The task will be to seek out the bodies of perhaps hundreds of little children who are allegedly buried there. It means that if bodies are found it will be Ireland's mini Auschwitz, a place of death where thousands of little souls were condemned to pain and suffering and then discarded in sewer cesspools.
If it is true, there will be no more sinful and horrific event in the annals of Irish church history. But it will not just be about the nuns and priests and bishops and archbishops, it will be about the rulers of Ireland who turn a blind eye and the leaders in many communities who acquiesced in the horrific practice of sending desperate young women to an institution where many were worked to death and their babies sold off.
The saintly Father Flanagan had warned them after visiting these institutions during a visit to Ireland. His words aimed at political leaders resonate today more than ever: "You are the people who permit your children and the children of your communities to go into these institutions of punishment. You can do something about it."
He called Ireland’s penal institutions "a disgrace to the nation," and later said "I do not believe that a child can be reformed by lock and key and bars, or that fear can ever develop a child’s character."
However, his words fell on stony ground. He wasn't simply ignored. He was taken to pieces by the Irish establishment. The then-Minister for Justice Gerald Boland said in the Dáil that he was “not disposed to take any notice of what Monsignor Flanagan said while he was in this country because his statements were so exaggerated that I did not think people would attach any importance to them.”
Of all the deprivations imposed by the many evildoers within the church worldwide arguably, burying unwanted babies in sewer pits would be right up there as the greatest scandal of all. The allegations are unbelievable and almost definitely true. There are those who have tried to minimize the issue, to portray it as a scandal of its time and place and much exaggerated.
Ciaran Cannon, the Irish Minister for the Diaspora who represents Galway, the county which Tuam is a part of, does not mince words, however, in his belief that the truth is being told: "The facts are as follows. There is documentary evidence of just under 800 infant deaths in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.
"The death rate of babies at the Tuam home was almost double the rate of other homes around the country. Figures from National Archives show that 31.6% of babies under the age of one in Tuam died over the course of one year alone. In addition, no one can question the fact that the bodies of hundreds of these babies were simply thrown into a concrete bunker rather than being given a respectful burial."
We are about to learn the truth in 2019 about Tuam and the heart of darkness it signifies in Irish life.
The revelations will be explosive and we will be left to wonder what kind of madness allowed such dreadful events to happen. Even sadder, were it not for the heroic efforts of local historian Catherine Corless, we would never even have known about it. Now that is truly shocking.