NORMAL PEOPLE author Sally Rooney says that the Catholic Church is no longer relevant in present-day Ireland.
Speaking to German publication Der Spiegel, Rooney said that because of the deep historical connection between the Church and Irish society, abuse within Catholic institutions was largely kept under wraps.
She also said there were unanswered questions about why society locked up pregnant women who were viewed as "undesirable members of society".
Though the Catholic Church is now "irrelevant" in Irish society, according to Rooney, and should be kept away from politics.
She pointed to an overwhelming majority of the population voting in favour of same-sex marriage and abortion rights for women as evidence that the hostile culture of Catholicism in the 20th century had "vanished".
"Deep connections cannot be severed so quickly," Rooney said.
"In the past, they were so deep that people were silent, even though they knew that there were structures of abuse in Catholic institutions, not only internally, behind closed doors, but also by definition.
"The people knew what the Magdalene Laundries were there for: as homes to which women who lived sexually self-determined lives were admitted."
Rooney said that many Irish people "knew that illegitimate children died in mother-child houses", something revealed in a troubling finding from the Mother and Baby Home Commission in January that suggested pregnant women sought shelter in mother and baby homes because they faced a "cold, harsh environment" in Irish society.
The report found that unmarried pregnant women faced prejudice and abuse during their pregnancy, often led by their own families and condoned by the Church.
Rooney added that mother and baby homes were "institutions of punishment for undesirable members of the Irish society".