The British Library

Peter’s Story

My mother came from Mayo in the West of Eire and my father came from Dublin. Both arrived in the early 1940s and my father worked in the car plant in Longbridge and Fort Dunlop in Erdington where he retired in the late 1990s.
Both lived in a large Irish community in Balsall Heath, a well known red light area, as this was the only area that they could find accommodation as a result of discrimination at the time. A very strong influence on their lifestyle was Catholicism and they produced 7 children, 2 boys and 5 girls.

I would suggest that Catholicism was and is both a unifying and divisive religion. It enabled my parents to integrate into a like minded community which gave them support both financially and emotionally but also imposed severe restrictions on their lifestyle such as no sex before marriage, a failure to acknowledge domestic violence and a requirement not to take action against unfair and dangerous work practices, in particular union activities which were seen as Communist.

The awful irony is that in the twenty first century the shocking scandals of child sexual abuse are now being exposed and the years of cover up by the Catholic Church are exposing the nauseating hypocrisy that has bee perpetrated all these years.

-Peter, Birmingham

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