Today is a really significant day in Ireland as the report into the Mother and Baby Homes is finally being published.

It was a cruel system which sought to punish and shame women and girls for the perceived 'sin' of pregnancy outside of 'wedlock'

A quick thread:

(📷 : PA)
The ‘homes’ were religious-run institutions supported by the state and wider society, which operated throughout much of the 20th century; effectively imprisoning and punishing women and girls for transgressing strict religious 'morals' by becoming unmarried mothers
They were a consequence of Ireland’s pathological obsession with sex, religious morality and women’s bodies.

When vulnerable women and girls needed support, we as a society decided to shut them away and punish them instead
The ‘homes’ operated in plain sight in Irish society throughout the last century and saw thousands of children ripped apart from their mothers and put up for adoption against their will, as well as being subjected to physical and emotional abuse
Survivors and their families have spoken of the immense long-lasting and ongoing trauma they’ve suffered.

Many children born into the homes still don’t know who their families are, decades on.

Many mothers still don’t know where their children are or what happened to them
Earlier indications from the report suggest that the homes had a much higher infant mortality rate than the general population- around 1 in 7 of the children born in the homes died
Women and girls were taunted during child birth by nuns who also refused to give them pain control or medical care, as they considered a painful birth to be a punishment for their ‘sin’
After birth, many were forced to do unpaid, effectively slave labour, cleaning or doing laundry in religious institutions as a form of 'penance'
The report today will undoubtedly make for hard and harrowing reading but we owe it to survivors to listen to them now and ensure we don’t look away from the reality of this.

Irish society has spent far too long trying to sweep this chapter of recent history under the carpet
Survivors of the homes are still being failed by state and society now.

Many are still struggling to access their own birth records and files from their time inside the homes. They also face barriers accessing housing, support services, therapy and redress
If you’re affected by the report today, specific counselling services for survivors have been put in place and you can find details here:…

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More from @SiobhanFenton

9 Dec 20
Tomorrow morning, the European Court of Human Rights will deliver an important ruling on a dark chapter of how the Irish healthcare system abused women throughout the 20th century.

A quick thread on what’s happening and why it matters, as it has gone under the radar imo:
A warning that some of the following tweets contain graphic descriptions of medical procedures, which are quite harrowing and may be upsetting
It’s about a medical procedure called symphysiotomy, which was performed on some women giving birth in Irish hospitals between 1940s-1980s.

Doctors would cut or saw through a woman’s pubic cartilage to widen the pelvis and allow for quicker delivery during ‘difficult births'
Read 15 tweets
8 Dec 20
Brilliant news - "The Government will not oppose Sinn Féin's Bill which would give 10 days' annual leave to victims of domestic violence"

This leave would enable victims to take time off work to attend court, get medical help or find safe accommodation…
When someone is experiencing domestic abuse, they shouldn't also have to worry about hiding it from their employer or fearing that seeking support could mean they jeopardise their employment if they have to take time off for crucial appointments
This can be a particular risk for workers with the least rights- people in precarious/ zero hours/ low-wage work, a group which is disproportionately women.

We need a cultural shift to see how this is a workers' rights issue
Read 5 tweets
3 Oct 19
I know there’s been some confusion about what this means, as abortion is due to be decriminalised in Northern Ireland on 21st October anyway.

So a quick thread on the significance of this:
In 2018, the Supreme Court found the ban breaches UK human rights commitments but was unable to make a formal declaration of incompatibility on a legal technicality. Essentially, because a specific individual had to take the case, whereas it had been taken by a human rights org
Therefore, a fresh case was taken by a woman called Sarah Ewart who had travelled to England for a termination after being told her foetus would not survive outside the womb
Read 7 tweets
3 Aug 19
It's interesting to see this being discussed but ultimately I think it's very far fetched and Sinn Féin would never agree to it.

There are two fundamental flaws with it, imo

[A quick thread] :
Firstly, it relies on the assumption Sinn Féin are against a no-deal Brexit. A hard/ no-deal Brexit and the chaos that would bring would be one of the best things to ever happen to the Irish Republican case and would see a huge ground swell in support for Irish re-unification
Sinn Féin have to publicly denounce no-deal because their constituents oppose it, but privately know it would suit the party very well.
Their current abstentionist position lets them complain about it without actually stopping it, which is in their best interests strategically
Read 8 tweets
6 Mar 19
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in Westminster is questioning a number of political representatives about Brexit today, including the DUP, Greens, People Before Profit and TUV
Asked about a recent warning by Head of NI Civil Service that a no-deal Brexit could have “grave consequences” for the region, DUP MP Sammy Wilson says the remarks were “a scare tactic”- “I don’t care whether he’s the head of the civil service or Santa Claus, he's got it wrong”
People Before Profit MLA for West Belfast Gerry Carroll tells MPs: “I’ve no doubt about it, if there’s going to be restrictions on the freedom of movement of people North to South or from South to North there’s going to be civil disobedience on the streets"
Read 7 tweets
19 Feb 18
It is with a heavy heart that I must announce, the Conservative politicians with columns in national newspapers and no knowledge of Northern Ireland politics whatsoever are at it again.
[A quick thread]
Hannan's argument is based on the factual inaccuracies that
- the Good Friday Agreement was a deal between the DUP and Sinn Féin
- the DUP and Sinn Féin governed Northern Ireland from 1998 until now

Both are just untrue and easily Googleable
The Good Friday Agreement was primarily the work of the SDLP and UUP- not hardliners at all but the moderate parties.

The DUP opposed the GFA and walked out of talks, Sinn Féin were excluded from most of the negotiations due to ongoing IRA activity
Read 13 tweets

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