Laundry apologists live among us


It’s easy to blame Church and State for all the ills that have blighted Irish society. Warehousing the poor in workhouses; separating children from their parents in industrial schools for the crime of poverty; enslaving women in Magdalene laundries for the crime of pregnancy.

But those whose ancestors incarcerated women with the temerity to bear children at the wrong time, with the wrong man, or at all, are still with us. These days, they are keyboard warriors and angry radio callers, but the modern version of incarceration and forcible separation is trial by social media and reputational destruction.

They’ve spent much of the past two days frantically searching Margaret Cash’s Facebook profile for evidence that she and six of her seven children deserve to sleep overnight in a Garda station.

They tweeted vile abuse and assumptions about this woman and her children, about single mothers and so-called spongers.

They rang radio stations to suggest that she “and her breed” be forcibly sterilised.
They believe her children should pay for what they perceive as her sins, and that she can be made an example to others who might think they can breed their way into a council house.
They are among us and they are merciless.

Many of them campaigned against the recent referendum. Some of them are the same people who will be out in force to welcome the Pope, supposedly the representative on earth of the lord of mercy, charity and love, whose hotel bookings for this once in a lifetime event will shove still more of these ‘parasites’ out on the streets. What would Jesus say?
Margaret Cash is an example, alright; an example of this Government’s utter failure to tackle the housing crisis.

Up to very recently, one homeless child was a national news story. It was a national disgrace. We were not the kind of country that would allow this.

In Ireland 2018 it takes six homeless children sleeping in a Garda station to raise so much as an eyebrow. One homeless child is unfortunate but six or seven must be somebody’s fault. And that somebody is inevitably their mother.

Never mind vulture funds snapping up buy to let mortgages and raising rents. Never mind the fact that no social housing has been built since the boom. Never mind the fact that landlords all over Ireland are evicting tenants and relisting what used to be family homes on AirBnB in a weekend.

It’s always the mother’s fault. She should have used contraception! She should put them into care! She shouldn’t have got pregnant in the first place! Until you run out of road, and decide you are all about women’s rights. Then it’s “where’s the father”?

The errant father question still manages to blame the mother for choosing the wrong man. Never mind that it takes four years to get divorced, that domestic violence supports have been decimated and that there is no legally enforceable obligation on men in this country to support their children.

Margaret is not the first mother in this situation, and as politicians realise that public opinion will continue focusing on the women and not on them, she certainly won’t be the last.

In June I interviewed Keely Jones, a mother of nine living in tents on a beach in County Cork with her children. They had been evicted so their landlord could sell up.

There is no available house big enough in her part of County Cork for them to move into. Not because she won’t take a small house; because the council will not grant a HAP payment if the house is considered overcrowded.

I know a lot about Keely’s medical history, because the keyboard warriors’ questions came thick and fast. She asked to have her tubes tied aged 21, married and with three children. Doctors refused. She can’t take contraception because it affects medication she’s on for bipolar disorder.

Talking heads never stop bleating about how it’s ok not to be ok, but clearly this only applies to good-looking celebrities who make rational life decisions. It doesn’t apply if you’re poor, or a Traveller, or a migrant.

Despite having a mental illness, despite having nine children dependent on her, despite living in tents and B&Bs and holiday homes for months now, Keely is determined to keep her children. But I can sense her flagging. She’s had to split the family up, older kids with a family member, younger ones with her, in a tent, in a friend’s garden.

She is on the edge of a precipice and the keyboard warriors are willing her to fall, because they just love a fallen woman. Women like Keely Jones and Margaret Cash have made their beds, so the thinking goes, and now they, and their children, have none to lie in.

There is a theory in psychology called the ‘just world phenomenon’. We victim-blame because we believe that if the victim is somehow at fault for their own predicament, we can keep ourselves safe by superior decision making. So we blame vulnerable people for the result of mistakes they’ve made, while never acknowledging how much higher the stakes were for them in the first place and how much closer they were to falling.

Bad decisions are part of messy, complex life. How the State supports those who might make them reflects on all of us. And, really, like our ancestors who ignored or propped up the laundries, we’re not looking so good right now.

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6 comments

  1. Oh my sincere apologies so on behalf of Irish society. When at 17 she went on the housing list first we should have just handed her a house. We should never have expected her to work – Lord Forbid! She should be able to spend the money she receives from the state anyway she likes, on large cars, holidays, fake tan, alcohol, dresses etc because we have an unlimited amount of money to give her to help her raise her own seven children. We should just ignore her previous brushes with the law, including when she was in a car with a lot of stolen goods. But never mind facts.

    And when the rest of society are getting up at 6am, heading off in the traffic, paying our mortgages etc. we should be grateful for the opportunity to provide for people like her so that she can spend her life having children, not caring how she pays her way and generally doing nothing to positively contribute to society.

    Please.

  2. These weren’t bad decisions of course not they served the eleit very well a good decision for them and mostly thier benefactors .control by deceitful manipulation by pr gurus and keyboard warriors who are hand picked to protect with untruthfulness

  3. “Bad decisions are part of messy, complex life. How the State supports those who might make them reflects on all of us”

    It doesn’t reflect on anybody but the simpleton who makes such mistakes in the first place. Why, as a full time working tax payer, should I feel even a shred of sympathy for the parasite and her 7 parasites in waiting? Sitting on the housing list since 17 with her hands out all funded by mugs like myself who go and work for the things we want.

  4. Great piece of writing, spot on. That poor woman, her children or anybody in their predicament should never be judged like that, we live in a country of mentally sick people, not the ones on meds to help their condition but the ones who don’t even realise how evil they are or how sick and upsetting their comments are. They can go now and wear their knees out praising a man who represents and organisation that will tell u to your face, your new born child is a sinner and needs to be cleansed of their sins, PLEASE GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE. We are going to have to stand up or this will continue until we do, and by god we will, so the sooner the government gets it act together the better fir them or they will be next to be tossed out on their ears.

    • “We are going to have to stand up or this will continue until we do, and by god we will, so the sooner the government gets it act together the better fir them or they will be next to be tossed out on their ears.”

      I think you seriously underestimate the anger brewing among hard working people in relation to the story of Ms Gimme Cash. If anything, she has set the homeless optics back about 5 years with her bullshit sense of entitlement – people are extremely angry that perpetual wasters like her can sit around popping kids out and living solely off our taxes. The naive types like yourself believe that the nation is going to pull together and bash the government in her defence, that’s not happening I’m afraid (and rightly so). In case you haven’t seen the figures, she earns approx 50k tax free per year between her various benefit payments.

      In regards to the government, any party with the balls to call this homeless industry out will be getting my vote. We need new measures to ensure the tax payers in this country are the ones benefitting from working, with the wasters who have never (and will never) work a day in their lives left at the bottom of the heap. Child Allowance also needs to be cut to 2 only, have anymore than that and you can pay for them yourself. SW also needs to have a 5 year limit applied, with payments solely linked to what you have contributed to the pot (i.e working people will get substantially more than welfare parasites like this one).

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