First things first. The recent Cloyne Report just like the Ferns and Murphy reports are a shocking indictment of the institutional Catholic Church and its response to the heinous crime of child sexual abuse carried out on the children under its care. These reports paint a picture of an institution more concerned with its own protection than the well-being and protection of the young and innocent victims of clerical abuse.
However we must not allow the shrill grandstanding of Enda Kenny in Leinster House regarding the relationship of the 26-County State with the Catholic Church and the Vatican blind us to the reality of the 26-County State’s culpability in all of this.
Kenny can rant all he likes about the “industrial-school Ireland or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.”
The reality is that Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Labour Party and the rest of the 26-County political establishment were more than happy to use the Bishops’s crosier and the clerics collar to whip people into line within their state. Need we remind you of the various Bishops Pastorals used to condemn Irish Republicans over the decades? In 1929 in Dungloe Co Donegal the Garda Superintendent spoke to the local Catholic clergy about the Anti- Land Annuities campaign. This resulted in the Bishop of Raphoe William McNeely delivering a withering condemnation of the campaign while administering confirmation in the parish. The Gardai reported it had “a good effect locally”.
In an unholy alliance with the Catholic Church a “Gulag Archipelago” for the poor of Ireland was run through a system of industrial schools and Magdalene laundries. The Ryan Report of May 2009 merely skimmed the surface of this dark chapter in our history. Church and State rigorously applied the policy of ‘out of sight out of mind’ when it came to the children of the poor and dispossessed.
Enda Kenny gets no plaudits for slaying a dragon that expired a long time ago and one, which in the past he and his ilk were more than willing to use against their own people.