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.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

In Another World

The world that these "religious" orders occupied defies logic. They complain of the lack of funds they were paid from the State - this was something close to one-third of labourers wage for each child. These orders have said that they were getting a "miserable amount" for each child in capitation grants yet they were able to feed THEMSELVES very well on this "miserable amount" despite the acknowledgement that the children in their care were "cold and hungry" .

As an aside here - in Ferryhouse they used to throw the "leavings" of their dinner into the yard where there were nearly 200 boys. I remember on one occasion it was bits of pigeon pie - mostly thin sticky bones. There was a huge "crush" in the yard to get one of these. This kind of thing was regular - sometimes it was the rind of a rasher, sometimes the skin of tomatoes, sometimes toasted crusts of bread with butter.

Yet, and this is the illogical bit, the children were working for the orders making suits, shirts, hankies, socks, scarves, shoes, bread, butter, eggs, milk, beef, bacon, hens, growing sugar beet, potatoes, turnips, onions, tomatoes, etcetera etcetera - heck we even chopped wood to make bundles of kindling which were also sold outside the "Institutions".

When these "religious" orders complain about the lack of money they received from the State they ALWAYS fail to take into account the ECONOMIC VALUE that EACH and EVERY child was contributing to "their" Industrial School. I have a friend, a fellow IT Tutor who has a degree in Mathematics & Statistics and she has given me the figure of €190 as the ECONOMIC VALUE of EACH and EVERY child in these Industrial Schools - THAT'S €190 per week that each child was contributing by their labour.

Now I accept my friend is no Economics Professor but I think the Commission should arrive at a figure for each child because €190 per week per child is an astounding figure. Another complaint of the "religious" orders is that they were understaffed and untrained, on first looks that seems a valid complaint .... BUT .... these same orders also state that it was only a few "rotten apples" in the barrel that perpetrated the abuses - - - WHAT !!! Such a small barrel!!! This needs explaining by these "religious" orders. I mean they say they only had a few "apples in the barrel" to begin with !!!