Kildare North TD Reada Cronin
People are afraid to speak out on issues today the same way as they were when injustice was being done to women in mother and baby homes, Kildare North TD, Reada Cronin has said.
In a comment on the Mother and Baby Homes report, Deputy Cronin (Sinn Féin) said: “Government after government apologise for the wrongs done. But they keep perpetuating those wrongs in how they treat poor women and their children to this very day. Even now social welfare inspectors are targeting single mothers. Instead of showing respect and kindness to women in claiming their rights as citizens, it selects them for special attention over a pittance, while public billions are squandered elsewhere. Social welfare is not the gift of any party or any government. It is a citizen’s right. ”
As to why nobody spoke out about the old culture she says: “For the same reason people are afraid to speak out today. Who would be a whistleblower when they see what the State and its agents did to Sgt Maurice McCabe. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments have not learned, they have not changed and no apology in the world, however well stage-managed, can change that fact ”
Deputy Cronin said Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael saw fit to bail bankers for billions. “They should now grow a backbone, pay these innocent people for their incarceration and separation in the State. The Church too must pay its proper share. Nothing can compensate them, but payment would signal that the State is learning from the grievous wrongs it allowed against them as citizens.”
Deputy Cronin said tha 50 years from now there will be another apology about how we had up to 4,000 children homeless, poor families shoved out of sight into hubs and B&Bs, people dying in tents on our wealthy streets, poor mothers scared of losing their children, our Traveller community excluded, families and individual men and women rotting in Direct Provision. These are political and social wrongs being committed right now. So, there is no change. The government today can have the mercy that was missing in the past but it chooses not to show it. “The common thread between Mother and Baby Homes and now is poverty and how in Ireland we like to degrade groups of people, present them as lower than the rest of us and therefore deserving of lower standards. Until we address that, we will perpetuate and deepen the wrongs. Only this time it will be worse, because government will have looked at the lessons of the past, cried about them, made videos about them, apologised for them, but decided to learn and institute none of them.”“Until we treat our poor and marginalised with the respect and dignity that are their entitlement as citizens of this republic, there is no change,” she concluded.
Jennifer Whitmore TD, Social Democrats spokesperson for Children, has said that the apology from the Taoiseach today, while necessary, is not enough and that the Government will be judged by its actions, not words.“The commission’s report – and the Government’s response to it – fails to acknowledge that the fundamental responsibility for protecting its citizens lies with the State. It is not acceptable to suggest that the brutal regime described in the report is something we did to ourselves as a society.
“For decades, the State and church operated hand in glove to implement a policy of shame, blame and misogyny that facilitated and oversaw the horrific treatment of women and children. It is simply not good enough to point the finger at families and wider society and say that they failed the survivors and victims of Mother and Baby Homes.
“If the Government’s first reaction to the commission’s report is to suggest we were all complicit in the appalling treatment of these women and children, then we have learned nothing at all.
“Today’s apology must be followed up with swift action that addresses the needs of survivors. Restorative justice can only be truly achieved when outstanding issues such as access to personal data and financial redress are expedited in a manner that is not unwieldy. Survivors should not be retraumatised by having further bureaucratic or legislative barriers placed in front of them.
“Ireland has a poor track record when it comes to dealing with victims of institutional abuse. This Government must not repeat the mistakes of the past in helping the survivors of Mother and Baby Homes achieve closure on this traumatic chapter of their lives.
“This report only represents a step in the journey that these women and their families are taking. We need to listen to what survivors are saying and be led by their needs and voices,” she concluded.