Hundreds of people gathered in Galway’s Eyre Square on 11th June for a vigil to highlight the recent Tuam babies controversy.
Galway Pro-Choice along with a number of local NUIG students called the vigil ‘to commemorate the tragedies that occurred in the mother and baby home in Tuam, and the thousands of other tragedies that happened in all of the other mother and baby homes across the State.’
In a statement read at the vigil, survivor, John Rodgers said “What the Catholic Church and Free State Government did to vulnerable Irish families over the last one hundred years has to be amongst the worst atrocities committed by a generation of people who considered themselves a superior class of people.”
Music from a member of the asylum seeker project ‘Make Visible’, and Queen Elvis created a backdrop for the vigil.
The event saw 796 paper dolls, linked together, tied to the railings of the children’s playground in the square. Attendees also placed flowers on the railings.
The National Women’s Council of Ireland and the Galway One World Centre also supported the event.
Linking the Tuam babies scandal to that of Direct Provision, a statement from Galway One World Centre noted today also marks the 10th anniversary of 2004 Citizenship referendum.
The statement explained: “Far from consigning the horrors of the past to history, it appears that the State remains in need of scapegoats, and still employs its old, brutal tactics of shaming, incarcerating and impoverishing vulnerable children and women in state-funded institutions.”
“This time Irish society cannot claim we do not know.”
Meanwhile in a separate statement, the NWCI welcomed the event saying that although the group unconditionally welcomes the establishment of a ‘full, statutory inquiry into mother and baby homes, lessons from previous inquiries, in particular the McAleese Report, must be learned.’
The Galway event received a message of support from Sinn Féin Senator, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, while recently elected Councillors for Galway City, Mairead Farrell and Catherine Connolly attended the vigil.
We in GPC were pleased with the vigil. We hope that events like this will send a strong signal to both the church and the state that they must immediately start making reparations for what was done to pregnant women and children in the name of religion and respectability, starting with a fully independent judicial inquiry.