Passing of a woman who let in the light

Sitting there in the darkness, sobbing, waiting for a dawn to arrive knowing that it might bring some reprieve from the misery, thousands of abuse victims in this country must have wondered if there ever would come a time when what was being done to them would be classed as wrong, illegal, depraved.

As the bleakness of their situation persevered, as those in authority seemed to mind and believe those in authority, despair was the default setting. As they waited and hoped, dreaming in colour because they lived a live that was far too black and white, the children that this country allowed be raped, abused, beaten, starved, miseducated could be forgiven for thinking that it would never end, that this was their lot, that this was as good as it was going to get.

Back in those dark days of the 50s, 60, 70s, it is just as well that they did not know that it would take as long as it did for the country to look at itself, to poke a finger in the eyes of those who were posturing, and lecturing us. They could not have known that it would be one woman who would make the biggest impact at ripping down the velvet curtain of officialdom that prevented the truth from emerging.

And that is why it is incredibly sad that this week Christine Buckley passed away — a life that had far too few happy moments cut short. A life deprived of the childhood she and every child deserved. All children in this country ought to be cherished, loved, hugged by those who care for them. They should be protected and made to know what proper care, dignity, and respect is. We do not know what the legacy of those lost generations has been on us all. How it has impacted on us. How it left its subliminal scars on our psyche. How much more advanced as a nation we would be if we had not been coerced and frightened into believing the things that official Ireland told us all those years.

How different her life would have been if someone who knew something had spoken out. Communities around the country, and some not a million miles from here, have to ask themselves the same questions as they bent the knee and looked away.

Christine Buckley was a remarkable woman — one who history will show did more for the unfolding of Irish society than any politician. Her life was cut too short — and her passing brings great sadness to a lot of people who looked up to her as a groundbreaker, a leader. A voice for those who were unable to articulate what went on.

Her passing should be a reminder to us all to listen to those who we do not expect to speak so that we learn more about our society and ensure that it never goes back to the dark dreary days when the vulnerable were punished because they were the vulnerable.

Christine Buckley, rest in peace and in the knowledge that, despite its brevity, your life achieved so much for so many.

 

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