The Bishop of Achonry has criticised the political class for failing to learn from the past and of letting down today’s women and children on the margins of society.
Speaking to the Western People one year from his ordination in Ballaghaderreen, and on the fall out from the findings of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, Bishop Paul Dempsey said it was “truly shameful that the church during this time lost its focus,” but also raised an issue about the treatment of women and children in today’s world.
During his time as parish priest in Newbridge, Co Kildare he welcomed residents of the local direct provision centre into the community.
“I saw first-hand, families, women, children and men put in hotel accommodation – hotel in inverted commas – in cramped conditions. Some were very highly qualified and were trying their best to work through the Irish system but it was not easy because they were meeting red tape everywhere.
“In light of the Mother and Baby Homes, we can learn from that. Their suffering is probably not to the same extent as the Mother and Baby Homes but women and children are suffering in our own society and what are we doing about that today?” Bishop Dempsey challenged.
“It jarred with me to hear politicians in power and who make the big decisions, apologising about the past but maybe not doing much about the present. I wonder will you be interviewing me in 30 years’ time and there’s an inquiry into the direct provision centres and the way mothers and children were treated in cramped conditions and undignified situations. We need to wake up,” he implored.
“It’s easy to talk about the past and criticise the past and ignore what is happening today in the present.”
Read the full interview with Bishop Paul Dempsey’s in this week’s print edition of the Western People.