Miami Herald

Re­port gives glimpse into hor­rors of Ire­land’s mother and baby homes

- BY ME­GAN SPECIA Society · Ireland · Micheál Martin · Coalition · Government of Ireland · County Galway · Galway · Newport County A.F.C. · Armagh · Tuam

A gov­ern­ment-com­mis­sioned re­port re­leased Tues­day found a shock­ing num­ber of deaths and wide­spread abuses at re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions in Ire­land for un­wed moth­ers and their chil­dren.

The re­port, the cul­mi­na­tion of a six-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion, de­tailed some 9,000 deaths of chil­dren at 14 of the coun­try’s so-called mother and baby homes and four county homes over sev­eral decades, a mor­tal­ity rate far higher than the rest of the pop­u­la­tion. The in­sti­tu­tions, where un­mar­ried women and girls were sent to give birth in se­crecy and were pres­sured to give their chil­dren up for adop­tion, were also re­spon­si­ble for un­eth­i­cal vac­cine tri­als and trau­matic emo­tional abuse, the re­port found.

Ire­land’s leader, or Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, at a news con­fer­ence said the re­port out­lined a “a dark, dif­fi­cult and shame­ful chap­ter” of the coun­try’s past, ac­knowl­edg­ing sig­nif­i­cant fail­ures by the state, so­ci­ety and church.

Sur­vivors of the homes say ur­gent ac­tion by the state is needed, and many say the Ro­man Catholic Church, which ran the homes, needs to be held fully ac­count­able.

The Coali­tion of Mother and Baby Home Sur­vivors said it was dis­ap­pointed in the “fun­da­men­tally in­com­plete” na­ture of the fi­nal re­port.

The church had been silent on the is­sue in the past, but late Tues­day, Ea­mon Martin, the arch­bishop of Ar­magh and the head of the Ir­ish Catholic Church, is­sued an apol­ogy. The church, he said, was clearly part of a cul­ture in which peo­ple “were fre­quently stig­ma­tized, judged and re­jected.”

Micheal Martin and the coun­try’s min­is­ter for chil­dren, Roderic O’Gor­man, spoke with sur­vivors ear­lier in the af­ter­noon by video to dis­cuss the con­tents of the re­port, which is more than 3,000 pages. Martin said he would is­sue an of­fi­cial state apol­ogy in front of Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day, and O’Gor­man pledged that the gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to work­ing with sur­vivors.

Mother and baby homes were run by re­li­gious or­ders, start­ing in the 1920s, and funded by the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment. The last of the fa­cil­i­ties was closed in

1998.

The com­mis­sion fo­cused on 18 in­sti­tu­tions between 1922 to 1998 and was set up af­ter re­ports emerged that the re­mains of nearly 800 ba­bies and chil­dren were in­terred in an un­marked mass grave at a home run by nuns in the town of Tuam in County Gal­way.

The re­port de­tailed how 56,000 un­mar­ried moth­ers and about 57,000 chil­dren came through the homes in­ves­ti­gated by the com­mis­sion dur­ing a 76-year pe­riod.

“In the years be­fore 1960 mother and baby homes did not save the lives of ‘il­le­git­i­mate’ chil­dren; in fact, they ap­pear to have sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced their prospects of sur­vival,” the re­port said.

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