The Dismaying PR of the Bon Secours

I recently gained a dismaying insight into the style of PR that the Sisters of the Bon Secours are engaging in with regard to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.  An email written by Ms Terry Prone of the Communications Clinic, representing the Sisters, came to my attention, and is now widely available online – the full transcipt is available here, and you can see it in the image below. It was written in reply to Saskia Weber, who contacted the Sisters in relation to a documentary she is making for French TV about the Tuam babies and all of the mother and baby Homes in Ireland.

terry-prone-letter-saskia-369x500

Email by Terry Prone for Bon Secours

On Tuesday 20th October last, I wrote personally to the Sisters, through their website contact form, to convey my dismay. When my message was sent, a notification popped up on my laptop screen to let me know that I would receive a response shortly.

I await this.

I share what I wrote here:

To whom it concerns

I write to you to convey my great personal dismay regarding an email that I have seen, as written by Ms Terry Prone of the Communications Clinic on behalf of the Sisters of Bon Secours in relation to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home children’s burial ground. The correspondence features an extraordinary falsehood and transmits a dismayingly unprofessional and offensive tone regarding deaths that occurred, and the nature of their final interment, at the facility that the Sisters of the Bon Secours had responsibility for:

  •        The statement by Ms Prone that there is no mass grave or no evidence that it exists ( “if you come here, you’ll find no mass grave, no evidence that children were ever so buried)” is of course totally false – indeed, the Bon Secours organisation is otherwise known to be familiar with it. Why is there PR denial of this highly sensitive space on behalf of the Bon Secours?
  •       The detail in Ms Prone’s email about famine burials is ill-informed and misleading; infant remains – referred to so shockingly by Ms Prone as “a few bones” – were of course disturbed at the section of ground where children’s burials were interred, and unrelated famine burials are located in an another area. Why is this highly sensitive space dismissed – and in such offensive tones – by Ms Prone?
  •      The extremely unprofessional reference by Ms Prone to “a local police force casting their eyes to heaven” sets a dismissive and even mocking tone to what is an extraordinarily painful situation for many people. Exactly to what – and to whom – is this offensive statement attributed?

I trust you are aware that there are many who suffer now whether due to their direct experience of the Tuam facility themselves, or because they are desperate for information about a child who died there? There are deeply upsetting testimonies on the public record, and many more that are known to my mother (Catherine Corless) who receives, with compassion, hospitality and sensitivity, this suffering in her own kitchen and over the phone as those impacted by the Tuam Mother and Baby Home seek support. What support is provided by the Sisters of the Bon Secours? Does not the beautiful mission of the Bon Secours – “the alleviation of suffering” through the “warmth and hospitality, simplicity and courage” of your work – apply to individuals who have an association with the Tuam Mother and Baby Home?

Rather than provide you with offensive, deflective communications as I have seen in the email by Ms Prone, which compounds the difficulty of those affected, I would have expected that PR guidance would have provided your group with professional support to reach out publicly to all affected, in line with your own mission.  Given its responsibility for the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, and its mission of “good help”, are not the Sisters of the Bon Secours in a significant position to be of particular assistance?

Yours sincerely,

Adrienne Corless

 

 

 

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About Adrienne

Mother, yoga teacher aspirant, digital media enthusiast, archaeologist. Embracing countryside-living again after years of city lights. Still attempting, sporadically, to blog!
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8 Responses to The Dismaying PR of the Bon Secours

  1. Annette says:

    Dear adrienne
    What you and your mother are doing is brilliant. I would have loved to be there when your mother speaks at the university but logistics/expense make that impossible. It’s ironic that the Bon secours sisters have money for pr firms but we the families have no such luxury.
    I would like to think they would reflect on that and may be more open handed and hearted to getting to the truth. I know a six month baby and her ninety year old mother deserve that much.
    We are silently cheering you on but I won’t be silent for ever and I will get justice for my family
    Annette x

    • Adrienne says:

      Thanks so much for this Annette, it fairly floors me today. I just feel compelled to speak up whenever I possibly can. I’m so glad you reached out with your comment, my heart is with you and your experience today. Strength and courage to you to keep sharing. That’s how healing and justice will come for all xx

  2. When I did my research for my article on your mother’s commendable efforts I too contacted the Bon Secours Sisters, asking as a journalist for information and response. Needless to say, I never received a reply, not even such a despicable mocking one as posted above. That the Bon Secours Sisters allow for such representation by the PR company says all about the validity of their mission statements you quoted from their web. They are hollow phrases void of any true intentions. The incredibly inhumane failures of the Bon Secours Sisters at the Tuam Home back then is reflected now in the ducking away and mocking the victims. I doubt you will get any response to your message above. The ‘shortly’ that was promised to me too with regard to a reply has now been a good five months. It seems, compassion and decency are simply not trademarks of the Bon Secours Sisters.

    • Adrienne says:

      Thanks for your comment Jonathan. We are both still awaiting a response then.

      “The incredibly inhumane failures … back then is reflected now in the ducking away and mocking” – regrettably I agree with this. Ducking away and hiding behind a PR firm is questionable, and the mocking representation seen here is reprehensible.

  3. Is Terry Prone herself in denial that question needs to be asked. Her whole tone is v debatable.

    • Adrienne says:

      According to website of Terry Prone’s company, this is how they deal with “Crises” eg corporate embarassments which I guess is what this whole situation is to the Bon Secours:

      “Our first job in most crises is to minimise their public impact, which militates against us talking about them.

      ….Once the data is in we advise what to do. And we prepare the communications. ”

      —- Communications like that seen in the blog post here.

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