Dirty Girls and Dirty Debt

There are 800 skeletons of small children found in a septic tank in Tuam, Co Galway. This horrific discovery was first made back in the 1960s by two small boys but nothing was done, no investigation made, not even a graveyard instituted. It was left to a local man Padraig to try and create a small memorial and sadly he passed away last week. It was left to local historian Catherine Corless to try and provide a proper and fitting response.

The babies were looked after in a Bon Secours institution, called ironically The Home, from 1920s to the 1960s The babies were all born to unwed mothers; mothers who were thrown out of their family homes to give birth to their bastard children in an institution. If their babies survived they were often forcibly sold into adoption with suitable parents. The death toll of these children was four times the national average. The girls were often forced to work as indentured slaves as a punishment for their crime of having a child out of wedlock.

Some pregnancies would have been as a result of violence and perhaps rape. Some would have been as a result of ignorance of contraception – and the total lack of same in contraceptive-free Ireland, even married women could not easily avail of contraceptives. Some of the woman probably enjoyed it, probably wanted more, and probably wilfully engaged in sex without any due regard to the consequences of getting caught. Dirty girls. They deserved all they got. They should not have had sex outside of marriage – even if they were forced – and they probably had it more than once. It was all their fault.

As for the offspring? They were bastards, and if lucky to survive, would be taken off the dirty girls. They didn’t deserve anything either.

Does that sound familiar?  There are 300,000 families in mortgage arrears in this country. There are 27,000 families facing eviction this year. There are more than two suicides every day, many of them from financially inspired reasons. Yet, instead of compassion, we hear the same moralistic tones. They were greedy with debt. They wanted more. They probably had it more than once. They couldn’t control themselves. For God’s sake, could they not control themselves. They could not keep their dirty hands out of the bank account. Could they not behave and not borrow. Disgusting people, greedy people, dirty people, and dirty debt.

So while the banks, as the religious institutions before them, blame those in debt, take their possessions, lock them in perpetual servitude, shame them and cause misery onto the innocents – the babes in the homes – we, as a society, look on. We tut tut. It was all their fault we say. They were dirty, debt people. They should have known better. They enjoyed themselves while we stayed home and were miserly. They were greedy, dirty, debt accumulators. Now let them pay the price. As for the children in those homes, where the parents are now dying of debt every day, where there is misery even onto suicide, we do not need to concern ourselves with those children. They are the children of the dirty debt brigade. They are different from our children. We will let them suffer, the little children, even onto the banks’ profits.

There but for the grace of God go I.  And you.