Since London’s Grenfell catastrophe the air has been thick with accusations.
It has been asserted that the victims’ social status, their relative poverty in an affluent neighbourhood, was as much responsible for their deaths as the fire that swept through their poorly maintained building. Their material vulnerability cost them their lives, goes the charge.
Since then hostels and hospital wards have been closed in Ireland because of newly-realised fire threats but we have a long history of people finding themselves in unexpected circumstances because of their social status, because of their unenvied place in the invisible but rigid pecking order that once, and maybe still, ordered this society.
Today, we report on an unpublished baby food trial in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home by Glaxo Laboratories in the mid-1970s. This was the sixth trial carried out on products using children in care as guinea pigs. The company should, even at this belated stage, give a complete report of all such trials it knows of or face the accusation that like its collaborators in this adventure, it has something more to hide.
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