“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley.
A few weeks ago at a major meeting in Waterford City at which I was the speaker, I was asked, “Why were Irish Nuns so cruel?” At the time I didn’t have a ready response, so I answered that I wanted to reflect on the question for some time before I would reply. Here is my reply.
I certainly didn’t need any time to reflect on my own experience of cruel Irish Nuns.. After all, I was nine years with the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in Dublin in both a Mother and Baby Home, St. Patrick’s on the Navan Road where I was born and spent the first four years of my life, and for five more years at St Philomena's Home, Stillorgan. My time with these Nuns was horrendous. I endured all their frustrations directly with violence, beatings, rapes, and mental trauma. As the result of a rape and beating by a Nun, I spent two years in a coma in hospital hiding from my mangled mind and body. I was five years of age.
Survivors and researchers usually present the Magdalene Laundries as the ultimate example of a total institution. The terror so enthusiastically applied by the Religious Nuns who ran the Magdalene Laundries was very real for the Survivors of such Institutions. The rules of the Magdalene Laundries gave the Nuns the absolute authority to punish the inmates who were slave women and children. The Nuns believed they had the right to use violence on them arbitrarily, including, if necessary, killing them. The Nuns carried out their daily tasks of interplay of the inmates bloodily and with great relish, and the slaves everyday experienced these practices through their interactions with the frustrated Nuns.
Some of the Irish Nuns who ran the Magdalene Laundries had notorious reputations and were known for their extreme violence, even in many cases as we know today, beating the inmates to death. No doubt there were a few gentler Nuns, but they remained passively silent as they watched the violent Nuns run amok, behaving in a frenzied, out-of-control and unrestrained manner. In the Magdalene Laundries and other Institutions run by the ‘Holy’ Sisters, it was all about the exercise of power. The Nuns were the power and to them the inmates were slaves, criminals and whores. The Nuns’ total exercise of power included the daily use of extreme mental as well as physical violence as they believed that the women and the children were to be broken on the Catherine wheel, so to speak, and destroyed mentally, if possible, by the whims and acrimonious tempers of the sexually frustrated Nuns. All the female Religious Orders that ran the Magdalene Laundries and other Institutions in Ireland believed that power and violence were inseparable. You must remember that Catholic Ireland believed that the Religious-run Institutions were legitimate and acceptable places in which to put unmarried women and their children who were judged as being anti-social and ungodly.
Most - if not all - of the Irish Nuns were from respectable, rural and middle-class families. It was considered very prestigious to have a daughter become a Nun as was having a son in the Priesthood. It was thought to confer a higher social status for the family and to provide a degree of comfort for unmarried daughters. The girl herself often wished to take the veil to escape the intolerable working conditions on the family farm. Some of these women and girls from middle-class backgrounds and with no professional training, were transformed into some of the most vicious Nuns running various Religious Institutions in Ireland.
The innocent novice Nuns, with their good intentions, had no idea of what awaited them in the hellholes known as the Magdalene Laundries with their captive and illegally-held female slaves and their children who, although they had committed no crime, toiled there. Later in life, all the Nuns were exhausted with the monotonous work and the intolerable religious life in the convents attached to the Magdalene Laundries or other institutions to which they were assigned.
In truth most of the young Nuns were not yet expert in administering human suffering; they were to become that later. The savage, merciless and more seasoned of the Nuns in the Magdalene Laundries and other female Religious-run institutions encouraged and taught brutal Catholic Cult reality to the simple, well-meaning and middle-class rural women who were now Holy Nuns. Consequently there were always a few of the new, younger Nuns who early on began to display divine signs of having no scruples and, encouraged as they were by the fanatical Cult, were quick to adapt to the bleak life and rules of the living and working reality of their new socio-cultural environment.
The novice Nuns watched and learned from the older, more experienced Nuns, so that they too could attain the level of cruelty and depravity they daily saw being committed on the slave women and their fatherless children. It took maybe a week or two to metamorphose the awkward, timid, novice Nuns into the new, confident and vicious Nuns so demonstrably capable of using verbal and physical violence on their captive slave women and their children illegally detained in the religious prisons known as the Magdalene Laundries and other institutions.
The religious habit was a distinctive set of clothing worn by members of a religious Order with the style and colour differentiating each Order. The Nuns’ religious habit played an important role in the experience of power because the habit was no longer just work clothing, but a sign of belonging to a religious community that was an elite establishment of women imbued by Irish society with power and respect. The proud wearing of the religious habit was a profound experience for the middle-class women, and the uniformity contributed to forging an esprit de corps, a feeling of pride and mutual loyalty even though it did not exclude hierarchies of rank and did not preclude friction within the group.
The Nuns enjoyed certain privileges both in Irish society as a whole and in their palatial Convents where the daily tasks of cooking, cleaning, washing-up, ironing etc, were all performed by their slaves. The extravagant Convents offered the Nuns a degree of gentile comfort, a warm room of their own, the best of food and drink, and wanting for nothing. No Nun ever died of hunger, yet hundreds - if not thousands - of the enslaved women and children in their care died from hunger and cold.
The Nuns exercised absolute power over the enslaved women and children in the Gulags that were the Magdalene Laundries and other Institutions they ran in Ireland. Violence was frequently employed and encouraged with the most common forms being verbal abuse, slaps, blows, and kicks. For the enslaved women and children, the Magdalene Laundries were places of constant suffering and death through hunger, brutal violence, epidemics and systematic mass-murder.
Some thuggish Nuns who worked in the Magdalene Laundries and other Institutions were notorious for hitting the enslaved women and children for no reason, even beating some to death. A few Nuns kicked women and children down the stairs and then took the opportunity to kick them as they lay injured or struggling to stand or crawl away. Kicking, you see, took the degradation of the victims to a new level. It is a greater act of contempt than striking the face because it emphasises the asymmetry between the torturer and her victim. The victim lies prostrate on the ground, at the Nun’s feet. The impact of a blow is much greater if administered with the foot. It was a known fact among the slave women and children that beating them was a way of compensating for the Nuns’ own incompetence and of imposing and demonstrating their authority. Physical violence was allowed and was encouraged by the frustrated Nuns in all the Institutions in order to get the upper hand - literally and brutally - by striking blows with hands, feet, sticks, chains, metal objects or whatever else came to hand. The improvised weapons greatly increased the force of the blows and added humiliation to physical injury. In some cases the Nuns even used their long heavy-duty wooden rosary beads to beat the slave women or the children. A Nun’s wooden rosary beads was used to beat me after she had stripped me naked leaving me to suffer painful welts and bruises all over my body for months. I was 8 years of age.
The Magdalene Laundries were a profitable business for the Nuns and the Cult of the Irish Catholic Church. For the barbarous Nuns who lived there and in other Institutions, they were a great place in which to eat, drink, work and play once you locked the slaves away at night as any competent slave trader and owner would do. The slave trade they operated included the illegal selling of the children of the enslaved women. After all, slavery played a crucial role in the development and ongoing operation of the Cult’s economy. It has enriched the Irish Catholic Church to the extent that, even to this day, it is the wealthiest organisation in Ireland. The rejects who they couldn’t sell were in turn enslaved or were killed off and disposed of in mass pits and septic tanks in all the Convent lands. Even in death, the ‘Holy’ Nuns administered this final insult by depriving the innocent women and children of Catholic burial rites.
The exercise of absolute power is crucial for understanding the running of the Religious Institutions in Ireland. Power incites, induces and seduces especially when used or mixed with fear. The Nuns had complete power over the women and children and overwhelming dominance over everything in their Institutions.. The purpose of the daily perpetration of violence against slave women and children of all backgrounds were to dominate, break and destroy them.
Some Nuns systematically accelerated and intensified their violent acts in the presence of another Nun, and considered it better still if she was an incoming novice. It was a matter of impressing and/or shocking fellow Nuns by specific acts of violence, and thereby proving one’s authority and skill.
The Nuns must have realised that the exercise of power over others can never be definitive, as to act with their accustomed violence beyond the walls of their institutions was impossible. Within them, however, nobody could escape the interlaced structure of these complex power relations. Many Nuns pretended not to see or hear what was going on around them, but instead were passive, taking refuge in their work and silent prayers. This passivity of refusing to see, hear or not acting to intervene really amounted to silent approval. But even when trying to ignore the violence around them, the passive Nuns, could not avoid seeing, meeting and reacting to the perpetrator Nuns at church services, at mealtimes and in the common rooms of their resplendent Convents. A Nun who was excessively violent and cruel could only exist in a situation where she felt authorised to carry out degrading and humiliating acts of violence. A passive Nun permitted and regulated the actions of the violent ones. By using physical violence, the Nuns exercised power not only over the slave women and children, but also over their fellow Nuns.Physical domination was indeed the proof of what they were capable of and, for some Nuns, it expressed a real thirst for power. The daily torturing and beating of the slave women and children enabled the cruelest of the Nuns to assert their place in the Magdalene Laundries and other Institutions. Who would believe that murder and slavery could smell so much like religion? Owen Felix O’Neill
Reason;- is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, establishing and verifying facts, applying logic, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.
Superstition;- is a pejorative term for any belief or practice that is considered irrational: A positive belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown. "Superstition" also refers to actions arising from irrationality. The word superstition is often used to refer to a religion.
I ask a very simple question, most days, on why can’t Religion just be made optional, in the Irish schools, just like home economics or accounting or French? In this age of Reason/Science, Religion is a very harmful superstition, God is not only dead, it or he or she never lived. There is no compatibility between religion and science, none. Our Children shouldn’t be martyrs to their parents superstitions and faith, after all evolution and science undermines religion every day. As Philip Larkin Poem said-
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
Religion claims that they have authority, revelation, dogma, and indoctrination as their methods and have no way of proving their tenets false. But false it is, it is hard to believe that there are thousands and thousands of religions and all of them make incompatible claims about the universe and a god. When you think about it, all religious belief is unfounded and irrational. The vast majority of people in our world are believers who believe in superstitions. The true damage that religion has done to humanity far outweighs the good it claims it did. Once you believe in an absolute authority that tells you what to do, you’re heading down the road to perdition, a christian state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful and unrepentant person passes after death.
According to the Cult, it is hard to be a good Catholic except in a Catholic society and Catholic schools ought to be an article of faith. The Irish Catholic Church controls today over 90% of Primary Schools and because of this, the teachers, male and female, they employ are obliged to teach the Catholic Faith. All the teachers they employ must have, The Certificate in Religious Studies issued by the Irish Catholic Church, this is extraordinary today that they, the Irish Catholic Church have still so much control. The part-time Certificate in Religious Studies prepares teachers to teach in Catholic schools in accordance with the requirements of the Council for Catechetics of the Irish Episcopal Conference. This certificate is a necessary prerequisite to teaching in Irish Catholic Primary Schools. In making any appointments, Catholic School Management Boards will always ask about the CRS as a condition of employment.
The Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies (CCRS) is a certificate managed and awarded by the Board of Religious Studies on behalf of the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference;-
It is designed to:
It is time now to change this, immediately, the vast majority of publicly funded schools in Ireland are controlled by the Catholic Church, and if you want to get a job as a teacher you have to accept that Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries. To add insult to injury, the local Catholic Church will send around local Diocesan Inspectors to schools as religious police, to examine the teacher, not the students. The Inspectors are checking up that the teacher is fulfilling the requirement of their employment to evangelise local children into the Catholic Faith, as this is their purpose and what they were hired to do.
A teacher must accept that Irish school teachers must be Catholic missionaries. You must:
And worse still, in order to help the Catholic Church evangelise children, the Irish Government requires publicly funded schools to uphold the ethos of the Irish Catholic Church. This is supported by law, Section 15 (2) (b) of the Education Act 1998 which obliges the Board of Management of all schools to uphold and be accountable to the Irish Catholic Church, for upholding the Catholic ethos of the school. Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools requires that Catholic Religion be integrated into the state curriculum and the Primary School Curriculum requires that all children come to a knowledge of a Catholic God.
In this day and age, our children shouldn’t be forced to listen to superstitious nonsense in Irish Schools, so why is religious superstition still taught in Irish schools? With a secular education every parent is free to educate their own children in whatever religion they choose or, none at all. This education can happen at home or at weekends, Sunday school or whatever. However, once standard, compulsory education contains religious indoctrination parents cannot ‘remove’ this indoctrination from the child after school. So, Secular Schooling removes the totalitarian system that is religion and replaces it with choice. It is now time to remove the Cult of the Irish Catholic Church, this insidious cancer, permanently from both Irish Schools and Irish Life. In the Reason and the Age of Science, Religion is a very harmful superstition, God is not only dead, it or he or she never was. Owen Felix O’Neill
The pervasiveness of The Irish Time’s propaganda, sadly with an article appearing in Saturday’s Irish Times, dated October 27th. By Diarmaid Ferriter, Irish historian, and university lecturer;- Nuns’ side of story needs to be heard-Silence and selective recounting of history reinforces caricature of ‘bad nuns’ Mr. Ferriter, continues, “Just what is the nuns’ story?” he asks his readers. Mr. Ferriter, continues, “we have not got enough sense of the perspective of the religious sisters involved in running institutions, including the mother-and-baby homes, back in the spotlight again following the decision to excavate the site of the Tuam home”. Maybe he is just stupid, or Irish Times journalist was being somewhat disingenuous as well as cynical, that’s possible. You see the Nuns, The Bons Secours Sisters who ran the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam in County Galway, had already told their story through their public relations Person. Terry Prone. The high profile Irish PR representative responded with the following exact email:
Bon SecoursYour letter was sent on to me by the Provincial of the Irish Bon Secours congregation with instructions that I should help you. I’m not sure how I can. Let me explain.When the “O My God – mass grave in West of Ireland” broke in an English-owned paper (the Mail) it surprised the hell out of everybody, not least the Sisters of Bon Secours in Ireland, none of whom had ever worked in Tuam and most of whom had never heard of it. If you come here, you’ll find no mass grave, no evidence that children were ever so buried, and a local police force casting their eyes to heaven and saying “Yeah, a few bones were found – but this was an area where Famine victims were buried.
So?”Several international TV stations have aborted their plans to make documentaries, because essentially all that can be said is “Ireland in the first half of the twentieth century was a moralistic, inward-looking, anti-feminist country of exagerrated religiousity.”Which most of us knew already.The overwhelming majority of the surviving Sisters of Bon Secours in Ireland are over eighty. The handful (literally) still in active ministry are in their seventies. None of them is an historian or sociologist or theologian and so wouldn’t have the competence to be good on your programme.
If you’d like me to point you at a few reputable historians who might be good, I’ll certainly do that.
Terry Prone (Ms)
The Communications Clinic”
So Mr. Ferriter, as can be seen the Sisters of Bon Secours in Ireland, did respond in 2014, through their hired PR Firm, The Communications Clinic” headed by its co-owner, Ms.Terry Prone. The Bons Secours Sisters choose to lie, by taken on a well known PR Firm to do their lying for them. The Nuns who ran the Home seem to have conveniently a disease called “collective amnesia”.
The Bon Secours Sister had said that they were unawareness of any grave “in the area” of their Mother and Baby Home. In spite of the fact that they sold all their lands in Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home, to property developers, all except the enclosed plot of land in which they hid their lies and horrors, from the world. The plot of land which held their wicked and horrendous secrets, the Septic Tank with its disposal of 796 rejected babies and children. All 796 discarded babies and children were from 1925 to 1961..and not from the Great Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1849. The Home was originally built in 1841 as a Workhouse, the Workhouse opened in 1846. Between 1925 and 1961 the Bon Secours Sister took over and ran the Workhouse as a Mother and Baby Home, where thousands of unmarried pregnant women gave birth. The Septic Tank was not built until the mid Victorian era of 1880.
A 1947 report by an Official Inspector who visited Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home, says some of the children were suffering from malnutrition, 12 out of 31 infants examined were described as being "emaciated and not thriving". It also says that the Home was overcrowded, with 271 children and 61 mothers living there. Death rates were extraordinarily high:
34 per cent of children died in the home in 1943;
25 per cent died in 1944; 23 per cent died in 1945;
27 per cent died in 1946.
The Official Report goes on to state "The death rate amongst infants was high... The death rate had appeared to be on the decrease but has now begun to rise again. It is time to enquire into the possible cause before the death rate mounts higher." The slanted report went on to say, "the care given to infants in the Home is good, the Sisters are careful and attentive; diets are excellent. It is not here that we must look for cause of the death rate”.
Considering that The Bon Secours Sisters were paid for each mother and child in the home, the County Council paid the Nuns £1 per person, mother and child a week. (Average female earnings in 1949 were £2.97/week. Which was a very large amount of money at that time). So an inflation rate of 5.29% per year means £1 in 1945 is worth £41.02 in 2017. ... In other words, £1 in 1943 is equivalent in purchasing power to £41.02 in 2017, that was huge money in 1943. In addition most of the women were sent directly to nearby Magdalene laundries after giving birth, forced to work as unpaid slaves, as punishment for their perceived recidivism.
The Bon Secours Sisters also made money from Child trafficking, according to the Irish Examiner on 3 June 2015, which published a Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home. "A large archive of photographs, documentation and correspondence relating to children sent for illegal adoption to the USA”. We now know that most of the vulnerable children were sold for $3,000 to $5,000 per child…The other rejected children who didn’t make it were allowed to starve and die, and as we sadly know were flushed into the Septic Tank, in Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home. The Bon Secour Sisters made at the time from selling the babies and children in America, $3 Million to $5 Million dollars, so let’s say the year 1945 and to adjust for inflation, the $3, million in 1945 is equal to $41,548,988.76 in 2018. And Adjusted for inflation, $5 million in 1945 is equal to $69,248,314.61 in 2018.
Also;- Two Senior Irish Police Officers on the 6th. of June, 2014, were appointed to lead a "fact-finding" mission. They were asked to gather all surviving records and to carry out preliminary tests on the suspected mass grave. The Irish Police (Gardaí) concluded--“There was no Criminal Investigation as yet because there was No Evidence of a Crime”. In spite of the fact that 796 discarded and rejected Babies and Children are now known to be disposed of into a Septic Tank, belonging to the Bon Secour Sisters in their Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. And maybe another 1,800 other women and children in the immediate area of the Septic Tank, buried under the Children’s nearby Playground.
On 3rd. of March, 2017, the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation announced that human remains had been found during a test excavation carried out between November 2016 and February 2017 at the site of Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home. Forensic Tests conducted on many of the remains indicated they had been aged between 35 foetal weeks and 2–3 years. The announcement confirmed that the deceased died during the period of time that the property was used by the Mother and Baby Home, not from an earlier period, as most of the bodies dated from the 1920s to the 1950s. The remains were found in an "underground structure divided into 20 chambers”, (Septic Tank). The Commission said "it had not yet determined what the purpose of this structure was but it appeared to be a Sewage Tank.
So the newspaper of record, The Irish Times, uses the Cult’s propaganda to influence individuals’ attitudes and actions and to cultivate public support for their idea of a benevolent Cult, the Irish Catholic Church. Just so we know, Mr. Hitler and Goebbels did not invent Propaganda. The word itself was coined by the Roman Catholic Church to describe its efforts to discredit Protestant Teachings in the 1600s. Please let us remember, that The Irish Catholic Cult were notable for making propaganda a key element of their total control, over all levers of power, particularly the Irish Press, by appointing all its editors. The Irish Catholic Cult were able to penetrate virtually every form of Irish Media, from newspapers, film, radio, posters, books, and rallies to museum exhibits and school textbooks, with The Irish Catholic Cult propaganda. Whether or not propaganda was truthful or tasteful was irrelevant to the Cult. Yes Mr. Ferriter, we did hear from both The Bon Secours Sisters and The Irish Catholic Cult, we heard them for over 100 years. Regrettable fact, that 100s of thousands of rejected babies, children, women, were flushed, dumped into the many Septic Tanks, Mass Grave Pits in all the Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and the Industrial Schools and Orphanages of Ireland, Mr. Ferriter, let us ask them, in the Septic Tank, ha, but unfortunately we can’t, but I can answer, I was 18 years in these Religious Run Institutions, as were my Mother, Brothers, and my Sisters, as were thousands of fellow Survivors, still alive today, please Mr. Ferriter, just ask them and stop carrying the Propaganda for the Cult. Owen Felix O’Neill
Our human skin is the parchment upon which our identity is written; class, race, ethnicity, and gender can be read upon its surface and it is the birthright of all to know one’s identity.
The removal of a baby from its mother tears away that child’s identity and leaves a blank slate upon which sanctity or atrocity can be committed and either will be forever etched into the mind of both the mother and child. Illegal adoptions and the stealing of babies from their mothers, strip away the means by which children see themselves or are viewed by others. As was the case with me, a stolen life will leave behind a distraught mother with an endless longing for her missing child and an abused child, sent into years of slavery and an endless search for his missing mother.
When I reflect that the thieves who stole me (and other illegitimate children and orphans) belong to religious orders, whose aims were twofold - to punish mother and child and to turn a profit while doing so, I must ask, as I have done since my earliest memory, have we forgotten God?
It is a little known fact that pharmaceutical companies paid the Catholic Church to be allowed to run experimental drug trials on the occupants of Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages in Ireland. These Vaccine Experiments were carried out on thousands of defenceless Babies, Children and new mothers in the many Mother and Baby Homes and Children’s Orphanages throughout Ireland. After all, here were a ready group of helpless children who had no Parents or people to complain to. Some of these experiments, took place in St. Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home, Dublin, where I was born and St Philomena's Home in Stillorgan in Dublin, on children as young as six months old.
The doctors and scientists believed they were serving the greater good of science and the health of society. The Catholic Church believed they were serving the greater good and wealth of the Catholic Church. I was one of the babies experimentally vaccinated in both St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home and St Philomena’s. I have a medical document that shows I was given two injections of “Live Polio Vaccine” in 1955, one on 18th June when I was just over 12 months old, and the second was given one month later on July 17th. The document further reads “Positive Post Vaccine Test.” Of course I do not remember any of this, but I do have an early memory of the clinical trials I was subjected to that took place when I was about ffive years old and living in St Philomena’s.
I clearly remember being one of a long line of boys wearing only our underpants and standing for hours in a freezing cold corridor. As each child reached the head of the line and was ushered into a room, one of four or five men and women in long white coats would take samples of blood, another would inject the child with a vial of coloured liquid while another would examine the boy.
A few days later I found that a very small, unwrapped chocolate sweet had been placed on my desk and those of some, but not all, of other children in my class. As any kind of sweet was a rarity in an institution where a religious order was in charge and where food was severely rationed in an effort to save costs, I ate the exotic treat without hesitation. As soon as I bit into it, I tasted a bitter liquid at its centre and I immediately spat it out and complained of the nasty taste to the teacher, Sister Kevin. She came by my desk, picked up the ejected chocolate from where it had landed on the floor and gave me another one saying, ‘This one will be better, Patrick.’ I took it suspiciously and put it into my hungry mouth but this time I pretended that I had swallowed the chocolate without biting. Sister Kevin seemed pleased. ‘Oh good boy, Patrick!’ She returned to a large folio open on her desk and made a few notes, but was keenly watching me at the same time. I held the bitter chocolate in my mouth until she looked away; I removed it and put it in my pocket to flush away when I next went to the toilet.
A few hours later a nurse came into our class and called me and a few other boys to be examined in another room. For the next few weeks, chocolates were sporadically placed on my desk, and the probing and note taking also continued. The subsequent sweets all had the bitterness of the first one, but in my hunger I decided to overlook this, rather than forego the pleasure of a morsel of food. As I was only a four year old, I did not know what drug or drugs were being administered to me, but I do know that ever since then, I am highly allergic to any product containing even trace amounts of chocolate.
I have another medical document entitled “Immunisation Against Diphtheria; Date of 1st. Injection 26th October 1954, 2nd Injection 26th January 1955, 3rd Injection 13th. September 1955. Result - Negative.”
I was hospitalised one year after my birth and rushed to another emergency hospital in Dublin, because of the serious adverse reaction to the vaccine that was pumped into my tiny body by the drug company. I have also recently been diagnosed as having had untreated TB as well as deformed organs.
I recovered. I must have had a strong and innate desire to survive, but I couldn't walk until I was four years old. Whatever difficulties I have experienced, however, I consider I got off reasonably lightly given the horrendous and enduring effects suffered by some.
Since their founding, the Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages of Ireland were run by Orders of nuns and funded by the Irish State and the Catholic Church. The default position of the Sisters with regard to the children and the pre and post- partum unwed women in their putative care, was one of consistent and intentional physical neglect. The nuns viewed their charges as being “fallen women” and “devil’s spawn” and resented the fact that they were a financial burden on the State and the Church. Because the nuns wanted to hoard the funds that they were provided with, they had to stint in the buying of basic medicines or nutritious food - with the result that many of those in their guardianship died of starvation, malnutrition and curable/ preventable diseases.
Then, in the 1940s, drug companies came along waving their cheque books and offering a lucrative source of money for the nuns to spend on providing – no, not better care for their charges – but rather exquisitely embroidered altar linen and fresh cut flowers in crystal vases to set beside the plaster statues of those perennial symbols of perfection in Mother and Child imagery - the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus.
In exchange for their cash, the pharmaceutical companies would gain unrestricted access to a ready supply of human, non-consenting guinea pigs on which to experiment viz. the pregnant and newly-delivered mothers and the babies and children they were forced to leave behind when they returned to the cruel, judgmental world of Catholic Ireland or a lifetime of incarceration and slavery in a Magdalene Laundry.
Of course the drug companies did need State approval for the monstrous trials they were proposing to embark on - but that was readily given, and no guidelines as to accountability or the safety of the protocols were imposed. After all, Church, State, and Big Business were united in their view that the unwitting women and children who were the subjects of the experiments were, in the words governing the philosophy of the Third Reich that led to the extermination of millions, "Life Unworthy of Life”.
While many of the records were kept secret and later destroyed on instructions issued after a secret meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops of Ireland in 2005, it is known that the doctors who did the experiments were very enthusiastic about them. One of the lead doctors wrote at the time, “Fantastic results! For this invaluable research, we have to thank the Irish Catholic Church for the unfettered use of the Orphan Bastards.”
Once approval was received from the authorities, the trials began. By the 1960s, the approval had become exclusive to one research and manufacturing company, Burroughs Wellcome, (later re-named The Wellcome Trust, and later still merged into GlaxoSmithKline – GSK. For ease, I will refer to the company as “Wellcome Trust”).
The largest number of trials was carried out with vaccines. During the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, Wellcome Trust secretly vaccinated more than 5,000 women, children and babies – some as young as six months old. According to the British Medical Journal, the diphtheria vaccine and other untried drugs administered to the children by the laboratory technicians from Wellcome Trust had never been tested on any humans (let alone already unhealthy, under-nourished and failing to thrive babies), but also the techniques for delivering them were often experimental. Multiple vaccines, or several shots of the same vaccine, were sometimes administered all at the same time. As is well known in the scientific world today, there are no valid studies to support the safety of giving multiple and simultaneous inoculations.
Medical staff tested immunisation compounds and serums for the prevention and treatment of many contagious diseases, including typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, infectious hepatitis, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, and polio.
Some of the children had from three to six diseases injected directly into their tiny bodies in one shot, while the nuns, doctors and technicians looked on with interest and noted the results. If any child had a serious reaction to the first set of drug shots then he would be given a second round and the effects recorded. Again Wellcome Trust personnel watched the possibly life-threatening reactions and proceeded to administer a third set of multiple drug shots. By trial and error, trial and error, trial and error, the lives of children who were not Orphan Bastards might someday be saved by the heroic efforts of these white-coated doctors and technicians and the results they gleaned from their young victims.
Naturally, no intervention would be made at any stage to assuage the pain even if the child was dying - as thousands of them did; that would have made the results impossible to evaluate. Even if they had wanted to intervene, the nuns would be too busy eating the treats made possible by the blood money, or ironing to perfection the new altar linens. And if there were a dead body, why then, more pieces of silver could be piled with gratitude into the convent coffers because the good Sisters would sell the bodies for dissection to the Department of Medical Microbiology at University College Dublin or the Trinity College Medical Centre. Sometimes the cadavers were even sold back (with no need for incriminating receipts that might sully their reputation for corporate philanthropy) to their exterminators, Wellcome Trust.
The selling of dead children allowed the Catholic Church to make hundreds of thousands of pounds from this obscenity alone. It is known that over 2,500 deaths occurred as a direct results of the illegal drug experiments in Mother and Baby Homes between the 1940s and their closure in the 1970s. In Catholic Ireland the asking price for the dead body of a fully vaccinated child was £1,000.
Some of the vaccine trials in the Irish Mother and Baby Homes that had devastating consequences for some children were those for polio and diphtheria. Many of the same highly toxic vaccines were also given to pregnant women, causing high levels of spontaneous abortion.
Polio vaccine experiments were introduced to Mother and Baby Homes in the late 1940’s. Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that inhabits the throat and intestinal tract and used to be very common in Ireland, causing severe illness in thousands of children before the introduction of the vaccine in 1958. Sanitation is preeminent in containing polio outbreaks. The use of live poliovirus vaccine, (which increased the risk of polio in children) coupled with poor hygiene standards, caused many outbreaks of the disease in Mother and Baby Homes.
Although the scientific method of hypothesis, formulation, testing and verification is straightforward, even the most spectacular achievements involve complicated issues and tough choices. The doctors and scientists who raced toward effective polio vaccines tested their handy-work on institutionalised orphan children prior to 1955. When the Irish Government announced that polio vaccination was to come to Ireland in 1958, many Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland had already been participating with the secret trials for years. The nuns and the Irish Catholic Church already had their thirty pieces of silver and, with no remorse, gladly accepted the cash at the expense of the possible extermination of defenceless children in its care.
One of the first batches of polio vaccine was tested on hundreds of children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over 200 of the children died within a few weeks. It was determined that the dosage contained too much aluminium. The doctors reformulated the next batch and tested it on children in the Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland. As a result, many children died although some struggled for a few years before dying and many were left crippled for life. They were a visible, painful reminder to society of the enormous toll this disease took on young lives.
It has now been discovered by medical researchers that some of the polio vaccine distributed to and used by the Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s was infected with a virus called Simian Virus 40 (SV-40), a monkey virus not normally found in humans. Unknown at the time, it was present in hundreds of the rhesus monkeys that were used to grow and harvest the polio vaccine.
Now, many years later, SV-40 has appeared in over 70% of all new cancer patients born during the 1950s and the 1960s in Ireland. These numbers encompass not only children from the Orphanages, but also children born within Irish families nation-wide who also received this contaminated vaccine. Isolated fragments of this strain of SV-40 are present in human bones of many different cancer sufferers now in their late 50s and 60s.
Contemporary researchers have determined that SV-40 can even be transmitted sexually and through blood transfusions. Even more shocking, SV-40 has appeared in over 50% of all new cancer patients in Ireland, even those too young to have received the contaminated vaccine being administered in the 50s and 60s.
Wellcome Trust also carried out another experiment that went wrong in many Mother and Baby Homes - the vaccine in question this time was for diphtheria. Old medical records show that thousands of children and babies in Mother and Baby Homes throughout Ireland were given a one-shot diphtheria vaccine from the international drugs giant. As with the polio vaccine, the pharmaceutical company had a complete lack of experience of its use with human beings. Wellcome Trust lab workers who prepared the formula got it wrong, and, as a result, hundreds of orphan children died.
According to The Lancet and The British Medical Journal who published the results of the trials, the alum-toxoid level in the original batches of the diphtheria vaccine that was administered to the babies and children was over 9 per cent aluminium – a level that is hugely toxic. Aluminium salts are added to vaccines as an adjuvant to speed and promote a response to the virus or bacteria contained in the vaccine. Toxic levels of aluminium promote cellular death and can (and did) overload the kidneys of new- born, often premature, babies who had received the vaccine. Many died or survived with highly compromised immune systems. We also know of a direct link between high levels of aluminium salts and Alzheimer's disease which can appear later in life.
Another little known fact is that after the Second World War, thousands of Nazi war criminals and collaborators were helped by sympathisers in the Catholic Church to escape a war-ravaged Germany. The instructions and directions to provide this aid came from the Vatican as well as from the Red Cross. Many of these fleeing Nazis were given safe passage through neutral, Catholic Ireland, and were later sent on their way to new identities and life in other Catholic Countries in Latin America. Of the Nazi doctors and other medical staff who arrived in Ireland this way, a few stayed and made Ireland their home. Some of them ended up working for pharmaceutical companies - including Wellcome Trust.
Again according to a British Medical Journal, the Burroughs Wellcome Company medical laboratory technicians who prepared and gave the vaccine for diphtheria and other untried medical drugs to the orphan children had a complete lack of experience and training of its uses with human beings, especially babies and children. The initial trials were carried out on hundreds of babies and children from the many Mother and Baby Homes and Orphanages throughout Ireland, from the 1920a though the early 1970s. In the case of diphtheria vaccine drug from the original batches the alum-toxoid vaccine level, at that time, the diphtheria vaccine dosage which comprised of over 9 per cent aluminium, caused severe reaction like fatal abscesses and hard lumps at the injection site, like intense pain, swelling and redness, causing fatal skin lesions, which resulted in skin lesions and the drugs rash that the nuns knew nothing about, started to appear on the babies and children in their care.
The fatal skin lesions were at the time different cancers, life-threatening complications which caused toxic shock syndrome which was a potentially fatal illness caused by a bacterial toxin Staphylococcus aureus; toxic epidermal necrolysis; pemphigus vulgaris. Milder side effects included raging fever, shivers, constant fatigue, severe headache, intense vomiting, multiple muscle spasms, and enflamed joints. The severity of the many side effects, which were covered up by both the drug company and the nuns at the time, resulted in the death of babies and children in the pastoral care of the Nuns. Owen Felix O'Neill