Church archives

Published in Issue 4 (July/August 2018), Letters, Volume 26

Sir,—Catriona Crowe (HI 26.2, March/April 2018, Platform) says that in the light of the Ryan and McAleese Reports, and the Mother and Baby Homes Commission, Irish Catholic institutions have in general not been forthcoming enough regarding their records, which she considers should all be accessible to those who wish to see them. She refers to abuse of women and children forced into institutions allegedly dedicated to their welfare, and seems to suggest that these victims were usually found in Catholic projects. She adds that these institutions ‘existed in Ireland long after they had vanished elsewhere in Europe’. Twenty years ago, when I worked for a London borough, voluntary institutions and residential projects run by different faith organisations were still plentiful in the UK. Unless able to set up appropriate training schemes for their staff, it is difficult for any institution to do good work and build up useful records. Delays regarding the legislation needed to enable transfer of records related to adoption and fostering, for example, didn’t help. Ireland’s reluctance to learn from what other countries were doing didn’t help either.—Yours etc.,

HELEN KELLEHER KAHN

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