It is emerging that thousands of children were starved to death in state funded homes run by nuns in Ireland. The Daily Mail today carries a detailed report which quotes Philip Redmond, a survivor of Sean Ross Abbey Hospital, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary where of the 167 babies born in 1942, there were 72 deaths. Mr Redmond says "As far as Bessborough is concerned, there is little doubt in our minds that as many as 2,000 died while we believe another 1,200 died in Sean Ross Abbey" This figures are to be added to the estimated 796 bodies found in a waste tank in the grounds of then Tuam home - see the earlier piece on this page.
The Leave / Brexit vote in the referendum came in the end as a surprise, a narrow win for Remain was expected. This may be because the core Leave vote was in the run-down white working class communities of the now desolate English and Welsh industrial zones. A population trapped in conditions of long-term unemployment and poverty who no one really pays much attention to anymore.
Some on the left have seized on the makeup of this core vote to suggest that there was some progressive element to the Brexit vote despite the campaign being led by racist hatemongers and wealthy US-oriented neoliberals. Mostly that’s a mixture of wishful thinking and post hoc justification for having called for a Leave vote in the first place, but it is true that a section of the working class, C2DEs in marketing speak, voted to Leave in close to a 2:1 ratio. Is the class composition of that vote enough to automatically make it progressive regardless of content? And what does it tell us that a section of the radical left seems to think the answer to that question is yes, that it is enough to be anti-establishment?
In mid August the story emerged that a suicidal migrant who was pregnant as the result of rape was forced to continue the pregnancy for weeks after requesting an abortion despite both a failed suicide attempt and a hunger and thirst strike. After been forcible rehydrated she 'agreed' to a C-section as an 'alternative' to the abortion she had first requested 8 weeks into the pregnancy. (See www.wsm.ie/migant-x for more details).
Thousands of people took part in demonstrations against her terrible treatment across Ireland, treatment that reflected the racist patriarchal authorisation nature of the Irish state. Astonishingly the forced birth brigade rather than maintaining a shamed silence actually protested that the state had not forced her to continue the pregnancy to its conclusion.
Long time followers of this site will be familiar with these posts. For rather transparent reasons to do with North America funding the bigot brigade ridiculously exaggerate numbers who attend their anti-choice protests and then massively under estimate the numbers who attend pro-choice protests. They have to keep the yankee dollar convinced after all that the people of Ireland are with them rather than running as fast as possible in the opposite direction. No dollars, no full time paid positions, offices and very expensive advertising campaigns.
Despite spending in the region of a million euro and getting the backing of the catholic church its now clear that the anti-choice extremists of Youth Defence & the Pro Life Campaign were resoundingly defeated when the Dail finally voted though legislation implementing the X-Case judgment of 21 years ago. This time last year they were confident that they already had enough Fine Gael TD's on board to block the required legislation but they reckoned against the wave of public anger that followed the death of Savita Halappanavar after she was denied a potentially life saving abortion in a Galway hospital.
Saturday in Dublin saw another desperate attempt by the anti-choice coalition to prevent legislation coming to the Dail (Irish parliament) to allow abortion where a women's life is under threat. Despite months of preparation, a spend that must have ran close to a million euro, and the parish priest at every mass in the country telling catholics they should attend, less than 15,000 turned up. Compared to the 150,000 women who have had to travel to obtain abortions in the last decades this amounts to almost nothing, a handful of bigots bussed in from all over the country. [Italian translation]
Every now and again something winds you up a little too much and you find yourself being a little obcessive in response. On hearing RTE had reported a daft figure of 8000 as attending tonights anti-choice rally this happened to me. It was very clear this was a massive overestimate but then how to produce an actual calculation of an event in the past. But then the anti-choice movement gave a hand and posted a video of the entire rally, shot it appears from the roof of Buswells.
Something in the region of 2000 people who demand that women in Ireland should have to carry to term unwanted pregnancies in any situation organised a demonstration at the Dail this evening (4th Dec). They were trying to prevent the government legislating for abortion in the very limited circumstances of the X-Case - some 20 years after the Supreme court told them such legislation was required.