It would be foolish to imagine that, even after two decades of painful unearthing that we are aware of the all of the horrors inflicted on vulnerable children entrusted to religious organisations.
Some of those organisations left a legacy that remains incomprehensible, some left legacies they can be proud of.
All served principles unacceptable today. However, it would be dishonest to pretend they were not agents of this society or that they did not have society’s tacit endorsement.
Uncovering those horrors was, and is, a challenge, especially in a society that prefers secrecy — a form of denial — to transparency.
It’s almost 20 years since the late Mary Rafferty made States of Fear. That led to the Ryan report which changed Ireland forever. Later this week a historian will be honoured for continuing that important work.
Catherine Corless will be honoured at the NewsBrands Ireland Journalism Awards on Thursday.
Through her persistence she brought the shocking Tuam Mother and Baby home story to world attention.
Her investigation led to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission which has published interim reports.
Ms Corless’ work, which would have been impossible without reference to extensive and reliable archives, represents citizen journalism at its most valuable.
We are in her debt. We can repay that debt and try to atone for the sins of the past by finally establishing world-class child protection services — a duty we have yet to discharge.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved