Sensationalist coverage of Mother and Baby Home investigation does a disservice to former residents and to the people of Tuam – Senator Mullen

Sensationalism is not the friend of truth telling. It is not the friend of the cause of mothers or babies who lived in the Tuam home

During Statements in Seanad Éireann on the Commission of Investigation into the Mother and Baby Homes, Senator Rónán Mullen warned the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone TD, that continuing inaccurate and sensational media coverage of the investigation into the Tuam Mother and Baby Home were causing hurt to former residents and to the people of Tuam.

Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Mullen said:

“Headlines which dominated international newspapers implied that the Commission of Investigation had reported that nuns had mistreated children and disposed of their bodies in a septic tank. That is the story that went around the world.

“We have seen headlines that the Irish State did it to its own children and murdered them by the thousands by neglect and hate. One newspaper has called the scandal “our little holocaust”

“I spoke to the family of one elderly woman now living in the UK. She is probably one of the only surviving mothers of the institution there. The family was very annoyed that she had to be subjected to those kinds of headlines.

“These headlines are not just inaccurate but extremely unhelpful and prejudicial to the future impact of the truth telling the Commission is charged with.

“I ask the Minister to agree with me that it does a disservice to the important process that the Commission of Investigation has of finding out the truth, and that everybody involved deserves not to have the truth pre-empted.

Senator Mullen also raised the issue that survivors are still not receiving updates on the investigation directly from the Government.

He said:-

“Despite their pleas to the Minister when she met them in Tuam, they are still getting news of reports and important decisions by way of news bulletins.

“The Minister could help by putting on the record of the House that in future the Department will contact survivors more directly to furnish them with reports and decisions before RTÉ gets the story or the press conference takes place”

Senator Mullen concluded by saying:-

“It is most important that the Commission of Investigation gets this right. It is to be supported in its work. That is all the more reason to be careful the vacuum does not lead to inaccuracy, sensationalism or polemics. All of that is unhelpful to the important role of careful truth telling so that we can have a better understanding of our past and meet our obligations to those who have survived and those who have been most affected”

Ends

See full text of the Seanad statements on this issue here