Ireland's Child Care Institutions during the 20th. Century. Fo'T: The most vivid and passionate stories - banished babies, cruel orphanages, old abuses of power - have concerned things that went unnoticed, or at least unarticulated, at the time. News has often had to be redefined, not as the latest sensation but as that which everybody knew all along yet could not say.

Monday, September 12, 2005


A number of important judicial rulings handed down by High Court Judge Gavan Duffy between 1936 and 1951 reinforced the position of the Catholic Church as having a special status in Irish law. These included:

  • that the promise which the Catholic Church requires of the non-Catholic party in a mixed marriage, that all the children of the marriage will be brought up as Catholics, is a legal contract enforceable at law (the Tilson Case 1950--Duffy made this ruling as President of the High Court and it was confirmed by the Supreme Court).
  • that 'public benefit' for the purpose of charitable bequests includes what appear to be the purely private activities of enclosed religious orders (the Maguire Case, 1944).
  • that all communications of a priest with his flock are privileged, and outside the law, and not merely communications in the Confessional (Cooke v Carroll, 1944).
  • that private discrimination against Jews is lawful (Schlegel v Corcoran and Gross, 1942).
  1. How much of an influence did these rulings have in predisposing members of the judiciary towards being supportive of practices approved by the Catholic Church, such as the incarceration of large numbers of children in industrial schools?
  2. In the same way, how influential was the theocratic element in the 1937 Constitution?

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