It is institutions. And ideas.
The degrees of violence against women and children and the slave labor inflicted on Irish women in the laundries are not caused by some flaw in the Irish character but by the nature of Irish capitalism and its relationship to the anti women dictatorial Catholic church.
Irish capitalism had the misfortune to be situated close to one of the most powerful capitalist powers in the world. In fact for a century the most powerful. I am talking about British capitalism and then British imperialism. The result was that Irish capitalism was not able to develop as a healthy and strong entity. It could not carry out its tasks. (See Trotsky on the Theory of the Permanent Revolution). But events transpired that led again and again to uprisings and struggles of sections of the Irish masses. In the 1916/1920 period this led to a truncated form of independence for the 26 counties. The struggle that had led to this was fought by Irish workers, small farmers and intellectuals. Irish capitalism was missing in action. As the struggle developed and negotiations to end the struggle developed the attitude of the capitalist class was summed up in the phrase: "Labor must wait." To their shame the labor leaders adopted this position and sabotaged the workers movement. The result was that Irish capitalism in spite of its role came to preside over the new 26 county state. However in doing so it was in a very weak and vulnerable position. It needed allies. The result was it reached out to the Catholic church and made a deal. This deal was that Irish capitalism would have its way with the economy and the Catholic church would run the schools, the hospitals, be allowed to "discipline" the youth, and decide on all the moral issues. It would also get the state declared a Catholic state. This fueled the fires of Loyalism in the North but that is another story.
So today when the monstrous crimes of the Catholic church are being exposed, when the terrible abuse of women and children are being dragged out of the hidden shadows in which they were placed, we have to ask the question who was and is to blame. The answer is simple. It is the weak Irish capitalist class and its ally the anti woman, dictatorial Catholic church. It is important to keep the focus on both these culprits. If we do not then we let irish capitalism off the hook. And we must not let Irish capitalism off the hook. Irish capitalism is trying to focus on on SF in the present discussion over the abuse of women. This must not be allowed to happen. We must not let FF and FG and the capitalist class attack SF when in fact they themselves were and are much more central to the abuse and crimes of the Catholic church in Ireland. And, and here is the point in this SF abuse case, between them they created the backward brutal culture in which the special oppression of women and children and the abuse of women and children took place.
Put the finger on the forces who are to blame. Irish capitalism, their political parties and institutions, and this includes Sinn Fein one of Irish capitalism's political parties, the Catholic church and all its institutions, these are all to blame.
What about the membership of the Catholic church. What responsibility do they have? The hierarchy have the most responsibility. This is without doubt. They spewed out the propaganda and lies and culture and intimidation and terror that kept the membership in the pews and paying the weekly dues. But again to the responsibility of the membership. There is no excuse any longer for anybody saying they do not know what has been been going on, for anybody saying what kind of an organization the Catholic church. This organization is corrupt and undemocratic and anti women. It is in fact anti life in the sense that life is for all that is healthy and progressive and full of joy. Those who are in the Catholic church should leave it. Those who cannot do so should seriously question why they cannot. Those who cannot should organize an opposition within it.
But those who seek to do so should be clear. When the liberation theology priests and members tried to organize an opposition within it in the 1960's and 1970's the leaders of the Catholic church worked with US imperialism, its military dictatorships, its armed gangs and thugs and killers in Latin America to wipe out and murder that opposition. The leaders of the Catholic church, that dictatorial organization, that the main church of capitalism, will not give up its wealth and power without the most vicious struggle.
In taking up Sinn Fein for the manner in which it has acted in the MS. Cahil case, we have to also take up Irish capitalism and all its parties and its ally the Catholic church. John Throne.