A ‘profound generational harm’ has been inflicted on those who have found themselves in the Irish network of Catholic Church-run shelters for single mothers and their children, the Irish Prime Minister has said.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin issued an official apology to the country’s parliament for the treatment of single mothers and their babies in a network of Church-run institutions from the 1920s to the 1990s.
A report commissioned by the government published Tuesday found a “appalling” death rate of around 15 percent among children born at mother and baby’s homes, reflecting the brutal living conditions at the sites and exposing one of the darkest chapters of Catholic Church.
Some 9,000 children have died in the 18 homes – the last of which closed in 1998 – mentioned in the report.
Institutions, which doubled as orphanages and adoption agencies, were established across Ireland during the 19th and 20th centuries.
They were run by nuns but received state funding and were also regulated by the state.
“On behalf of the government, the state and its citizens, I apologize for the grave generational harm suffered by Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a mother-baby house or in a county house”, Martin told parliament on Wednesday.
“I apologize for the shame and stigma they were subjected to and which, for some, remain a burden to this day. The state has let you down.
The government is committed to providing financial recognition to specific groups identified in the report.
He also pledged to advance long-promised laws to support excavations, exhumations and, where possible, identification of remains at burial sites in homes where children as young as newborns have been buried. .
‘A damning indictment of church and state’
Tuesday’s findings follow a five-year investigation by the Commission of Inquiry into Maternal and Child Homes and detailed a litany of harsh practices in the institutions examined.
He revealed how many infants had been taken from mothers and sent abroad for adoption, while a number of children were being vaccinated without their consent.
Anonymous testimonies from residents compared institutions to prisons where they were verbally assaulted by nuns, while women endured traumatic labor without any pain relief.
Relatives have alleged babies were abused at home because they were born to single mothers who, like their children, were seen as a stain on Ireland’s image as a pious Catholic nation.
The investigation found that those admitted included girls as young as 12 years old.
A coalition of survivor groups said on Tuesday that the report was “really shocking” but had mixed feelings as it did not fully reflect the role the state played in running the homes and separating the families. single mothers with their babies.
“We must not overlook the fact that the government and the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant churches ran the homes hand in hand,” the coalition said in a statement.
“What they have done represents a damning indictment on Church and State.”
The religious order that ran a care home for single mothers in the Irish town of Tuam, where nearly 800 children have died, said on Wednesday that the order “fell short of our Christianity when it ruled the House”.
“We did not respect the inherent dignity of the women and children who came to the house. We failed to provide them with the compassion they so badly needed, ”he said.