Bias! Censorship! Omerta! It’s been interesting to watch reaction to the Gosnell case both here and across the Atlantic.
Naturally, a big effort is being made to link this to forthcoming X case legislation and this is of course typical bullshit from the very people who would, and do, drive women into dangerous situations as Carole Joffe writes in Dispatches from the abortion wars:
“that such clinics can flourish until the inevitable disaster occurs…is a ‘perfect storm’ caused by the marginalization of abortion care from mainstream medicine, the lack of universal health care in the United States, and the particular difficulties facing undocumented immigrants in obtaining health care.”
Gosnell is very much a product of those who perpetuate a culture of silence and shame, forcing women into the shadows.
Since Wednesday the usual suspects are out. At one point the Children’s Ombudsman was harangued about the ‘insidious network of tax funded left wing quangos’ who run Ireland. These sudden calls on everyone else to catch up are somewhat spurious given the trial started a month ago and the case itself has been playing out for over two years.
No such dereliction over at Life House where transatlantic ties are deep. Writing in January 2011 Niamh Ui Bhriain warned “the perverse morality that facilitated Gosnell’s house of horror also has Ireland in its sights.”
It takes a particularly horrific crime to make a US District Attorney describe the scene of the felony as a ‘house of horrors’. But, given what has now emerged about the carnage that took place in Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic, it seems that the DA, Seth Williams, may actually have been restrained in his choice of words.
Two years earlier another house of horror emerged closer to home. The Roscommon case revealed six children who had spent most of their lives subject to incest, sexual assault and neglect. They were not properly fed, received neither education nor toilet-training, suffered from head-lice and were beaten on regular occasions.
One note in the HSE report contains the observation “the nappy was so saturated with urine that it was crystallized.”
The incest took place on four occasions after the woman (Mrs A) returned from the pub.
The Western Health Board failings were numerous, typically Irish and cannot be overstated however in October 2000 an agreement had been reached in a shared parenting plan that all six children would stay with their aunt. Fifteen days later the Western Health Board were served with a high court order from Mrs A asserting
I say that I and my husband, as a married couple, have inalienable and imprescriptible rights over our children and I ask this honourable Court for an Order entitling us to keep our children together
This Order restrained the Western Health Board from removing the children from the custody of their parents and prevented Social Workers from acting under their responsibilities of the Child Care Act. During the later HSE inquiry a law agent commented
It was quite broad. Again, I haven’t seen a precedent for an order in that phraseology in child care matters but it was quite broad in that it referred to custody. It didn’t say you can’t go for an order under the Child Care Act, it didn’t say you can’t make them a ward of court, it didn’t say anything specific except we couldn’t remove them into the custody.
I think the element of family was highlighted in that affidavit and I would have thought it was probably out of constitutional concerns for the protection of the family.
A Case Conference followed and there a Garda informed them that he had received a telephone call from a woman (Mrs B) who identified herself as a representative of the family. Mrs B told the Garda that anyone who attended the conference would be in breach of the High Court Order. She said she was a teacher and that the Family had stayed with her the night before they attended before the High Court.
In her interview with the later HSE Inquiry Mrs A was clear that the family was receiving help from a group that had some local representatives and had been involved in assisting the family with the High Court action
“They got together with me and persuaded me differently.”
She further advised that, before some meetings with Social Services they had a consultation with a local person from this group. The HSE report notes:
The parents were deft at deflecting staff from critical issues. They did this by ‘stage-managing’ home visits and case conferences, skilfully manipulating the attention of workers away from the children on to practical issues concerning the house and other material matters
Mrs B also wrote to the Minister for Children asking that she write to the Western Health Board telling them to “stop persecuting the family.”
The children remained in this house of “ongoing hygiene issues” and the Health Board became reluctant following the Order. One Social Worker “had strong views in respect of the influence exercised by this group. He suggested that these were powerful people and that this was a factor in the approach of the WHB”.
Mrs B and “other supporters” accompanied Mrs A to court in 2001 when the health board made another application for supervision orders. The Inquiry Team noted that, “while Mrs A was not legally represented in the High Court, her affidavit appeared to have the benefit of professional input in its drafting.” This application was adjourned on a number of occasions
The following description of the family home in January 2005:
the kitchen was in very poor condition, lots of rubbish everywhere, one couldn’t see the table or counters. Plates everywhere, bags of rubbish with ashes, drink cans in the bag and on the table. Kitchen floor was extremely dirty and the covering was almost non-existent.
The description of the bedroom matched exactly that given by a Social Worker five years earlier and there the children remained those four years. Time only punctuated by regular and unexplained hospital visits.
On October 1st 2004 the child who had first spoken of the inappropriate sexual behaviour was again admitted to the regional hospital, following a referral from GP 2, concerning stomach pain and vomiting. The referral requested that a urine sample be checked. On October 7th 2004 a Paediatrician in the regional hospital raised concerns that a urine sample, which had been brought from home, had been contaminated. Concern was also expressed about the high number of hospital attendances with no explanation.
On the 8th of October 2004 Mr A phoned the child in care saying he was going to bring them home. The child was very upset by what they saw as a threat and the staff took them away for a few days break. Subsequent to this it was necessary for Social Worker 5 to organise supervision of access visits with the parents, as the child was afraid of Mr A`s reaction to the information being provided to the WHB staff.
On October 11th 2004 the remaining five children were taken into the care of the WHB based on the information provided by the child who was already in care. The children were made the subject of an Emergency Care Order under Section 13 of the Child Care Act 1991. On October 12th Mr A was interviewed by the social worker concerning the allegations. He denied them and added that he wanted no more to do with the child who had told staff what was happening. Mr A was later interviewed by the Gardaí and again denied all the allegations. Interim Care Orders under Section 17 of the Child Care Act 1991 were granted in respect of all six children on October 2004.
At a later meeting Mr A said he had told the five children removed from home it was their sibling’s fault they were in care and that they now wanted to have no contact with that sibling.
In 2009 a mother-of-six from Co Roscommon was sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted on ten counts of incest, sexual abuse and neglect of her children. In 2010 a man from Co Roscommon was sentenced to fourteen years in prison following his conviction on forty-seven counts of rape and sexual assault.
During the trial of Mrs A the court was told of a “Catholic right-wing organisation”, a description Mine Bean Uí Chribín later described as “laughable.”
Childcare Manager Paddy Gannon told the court the mother suddenly sought, and secured, a High Court injunction preventing the arrangement being implemented and he believed, although he had no proof, that Bean Uí Chribín’s organisation had given her the financial and other support to do so.
Uí Chribín replied “I wouldn’t believe a Hail Mary from their mouths. Let them answer for their own sins. Hump the lot of them.” She did, however, say she often received requests for help from people in difficulties and told the Irish Examiner
I won’t comment directly on this case but suppose that woman had not been married, she would have plenty of money to rear those children. An unmarried mother gets all the help they need from the state. The state is attacking families and has been for years.
Following media reports on Bean Uí Chroibín and her links to other groups Niamh Ui Bhriain issued this statement:
This is journalism at its very worst. It is untrue and dishonest by nature, and is quite blatantly a deplorable smear which is utterly unsubstantiated. It was likely that the journalists’ own prejudices and had led them to make a serious error in printing such libelous smears, and that they had made no attempt to contact any of the named organization to find out if there was any basis to this wild speculation they had indulged in. The Mother and Child Campaign is, in fact, a legal entity – something which was not considered by the in making its decision to run the smear.
There is, and never was, any association between Youth Defence, Mother and Child Campaign, Cóir and the woman at the centre of the trial in Roscommon, nor with anyone associated with the trial. Any statements to the contrary are a deliberate lie.
All three organizations have sought an immediate rebuttal of the article and have said they will take legal action if it is not given.
Neither retraction nor legal action materialised.
When arrested Mrs A commented “Yes, it was a house of horrors with bells on it.”
A restrained choice of words, I’m sure Life House would agree.