San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition
‘ Perverse morality’ drove homes for unwed mothers
LONDON — Ireland’s prime minister said Tuesday that the country must “face up to the full truth of our past,” as a longawaited report recounted decades of harm done by churchrun homes for unmarried women and their babies, where thousands of infants died.
Micheal Martin said young women and their children had paid a heavy price for Ireland’s “perverse religious morality” in past decades. “We had a completely warped attitude to sexuality and intimacy. Young mothers and their sons and daughters paid a terrible price for that dysfunction,” he said.
Martin said he would make a formal apology on behalf of the state in Ireland’s parliament on Wednesday.
The final report of an inquiry into the mother and baby homes said that 9,000 children died in 18 different homes during the 20th century. Fifteen percent of all children born in the homes died, almost double the nationwide infant mortality rate.
The inquiry is part of a process of reckoning in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Ireland with a history of abuses in churchrun institutions, including the shunning and shaming of unwed mothers, many of whom were pressured into giving up babies for adoption.
Churchrun homes housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women and their babies for most of the 20th century.
The institutions have been subject to intense public scrutiny since investigators found a mass grave containing remains of 796 babies and young children on the grounds of the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway.