Girls, aged 12, were among the 56,000 mothers in Ireland's maternity and baby homes whose harrowing experiences were exposed by the worrying report released yesterday.
She and her children have been exposed to very high infant mortality rates, poor nutrition, overcrowded bedrooms and emotional abuse.
However, the commission of inquiry does not blame the church or the state and also points to families and fathers who have turned their backs on unmarried pregnant women.
Ireland was found to have been a cold, harsh environment for many over the past century, but especially cold and harsh for women. It says: “All women were severely discriminated against. Women who gave birth out of wedlock were treated particularly harshly.
The responsibility for this harsh treatment rests primarily with the fathers of their children and their own immediate families.
It was supported, contributed to and tolerated by the institutions of the state and the churches. It must be recognized, however, that the institutions examined provided refuge – in some cases hard refuge – when families did not provide refuge at all. "
The Commission's final report found that while maternity and baby homes were not a particularly Irish phenomenon, the proportion of Irish unmarried mothers admitted to such homes or county homes in the 20th century was "probably the highest in the world".
Girls, aged 12, were among the 56,000 mothers in Ireland's maternity and baby homes whose harrowing experiences were exposed by the worrying report released yesterday. Pictured: Mother and daughter pay their respects at a memorial to the Mothers and Daughters of Tuam, Co. Galway, where a mass grave containing 796 babies was uncovered six years ago
Among the victims are Mary Harney (left), who tracked down her mother, who she learned had died after giving birth at the Bessborough Maternity and Baby Home in Cork in 1949, and Catherine Coffey O'Brien (right ), who suffered physical abuse and was treated "like a prostitute" after being tricked into the same baby's home by a social worker
A total of 9,768 women and 8,938 children passed through the doors of Bessborough House, Co. Cork, which was run by the Congregation for the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The gravesites of the 923 children who died here remain a mystery, largely due to the failure of local health authorities
After harrowing revelations of the suffering, atrocities and shocking numbers of early deaths in maternity and baby homes, Micheál Martin condemned Ireland's "perverse religious morality" over the past few decades
It was reported that there were about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children in the 14 maternity and baby homes and four county homes examined by the commission.
Most of these recordings were made in the 1960s and early 1970s. The commission said it was likely an additional 25,000 unmarried mothers and larger numbers of children were in other county homes that were not screened.
The age of the women was between 12 and 40 years. The majority, 80%, were between 18 and 29 years old, but 5,616, 11.4%, were under 18 years old.
Catherine Coffey O & # 39; Brien: "Nuns treated us like prostitutes and told us we were worthless."
I grew up in an orphanage and got pregnant at the age of 16 which was one of the worst things to do in Irish society back then.
After an argument with my baby's father and desperate help, a social worker referred me to the Bessborough Sacred Heart Convent in Blackrock, Co. Cork.
I was told I would live independently, have my own apartment and go back to school. I was shocked to see a nun come to pick me up and I knew I had been betrayed.
Before going in, I thought about how I would get out because I had no intention of giving my baby away.
When I arrived my name was changed to Jane on the records. They thought they were going to bless me a favor and not take away my identity.
I was told to have limited conversations with the other girls and we should never give out our real names.
I was expected to polish brass, floors, the chapel, wash and clean for the girls, and watch over certain babies in the nursery. The food was also miserable – some heavily pregnant girls began to lose their teeth due to the lack of calcium.
However, the physical abuse was greatly outweighed by the mental abuse we experienced every day.
The nuns considered us prostitutes, even the 11-year-old pregnant girls who had clearly been raped.
They reminded us that we were worthless and humorously tried to comfort the girls once their babies were taken away.
Regarding my own pregnancy, the nun said to me, “If you have a boy, we have no problem. We have lovely families waiting for him.
"But if you have a girl we will definitely have a problem and she will likely end up in the orphanage you were in."
In baby selection, babies weighing less than 10 kg and babies of mixed races were considered unfit for adoption.
These babies ended up in industrial schools, where they were open to torture and sexual abuse, among other things.
Like everyone else, my pregnancy was far from comfortable and as my due date approached I was petrified of the result. The births that the mothers were subjected to – with no pain relief or reassurance – were described as punishment from God.
I decided to run away with another girl, but she was eventually taken back to Bessborough. The punishment for them was indescribable torture.
The first night I slept in a bush and the next day I went to the mother of my baby's father and told her everything.
She refused to take away her grandchild and told my baby's father to take responsibility, which he did.
I don't like using the word traumatized, but I still lived in fear. I was so afraid of doctor's appointments that I feared they would contact Bessborough.
I was never scanned in Bessborough, but many injections and blood were taken from an old woman. If I asked her what she injected me, she wouldn't even know.
The nuns found out where I was, but by then it was too late when I was engaged to my baby's father.
I was one of the lucky few who got out and gave birth to a boy.
But today at 48, I am still overwhelmed by the guilt that life made my escape possible when so many others died in this place.
At the end of the day we really want answers. They destroyed generations of women and children. Now they are erasing us from history.
The commission said the number of under-18s rose sharply in the early 1960s and reached high levels over the next two decades.
Some pregnancies were the result of rape; Some women had mental health problems, others had intellectual disabilities, ”the report said.
The majority, however, were indistinguishable from most Irish women of their day. The only difference between women in maternity and baby homes and their sisters, classmates and workmates was that they became pregnant without being married.
“Their lives have been marred by pregnancies out of wedlock and the reactions of their child's father, their immediate families, and the wider community.
“Women were admitted to mother and baby homes as well as to district homes because they could not ensure the support of their families and the father of their child.
They were forced to leave home and find a place to stay without paying. Many were destitute. & # 39;
Women who feared that their family and neighbors would become aware of the consequences of their pregnancy entered the homes to protect their privacy. Some traveled to the UK for the same reason, but were often forced to return by the UK authorities.
The commission said the profiles of women in the homes had changed over the decades, reflecting changes in the lives of Irish women.
In the first few decades, most of the eligible women were domestic or farm laborers, or did unpaid housework in their family homes. In later years, however, many were clerks, civil servants, working women, and third-grade students.
“There is no evidence that church or government authorities have forced women into maternity and baby homes. Most women had no alternative, ”the report said.
Many pregnant single women contacted the Department of Local Government and Public Health, later the Department of Health, their local health department, or a Catholic charity seeking help because they had nowhere to go and no money.
Women were also taken to mother and baby homes by their parents or other family members without consultation. The report said: “In many cases they have been cut off from the world and some have been given a 'house name'. The houses gave women the assurance that "their secret would be protected".
Up to 9,000 children died in 18 facilities between 1922 and the closing of the last such home in 1998. The commission said the very high infant mortality rate, defined as death within the first year of a baby's life, was probably the most troubling feature of these institutions'.
The death rate among “illegitimate” children has always been significantly higher than that among “legitimate” children, but was even higher in the households of mother and child.
Between 1945 and 1946 the home mortality rate was almost twice the national average for "illegitimate" children.
Around 9,000 children died in the facilities examined, about 15% of all children living in the houses.
In the years prior to 1960, mother and baby homes did not save the lives of "illegitimate" children. In fact, they appear to have significantly reduced their chances of survival, ”the report said.
It added that the very high death rates were known to local and national authorities at the time and were recorded in official publications.
The commission attributed the high mortality rates to the poor diet of their mothers during pregnancy, the lack of prenatal care if they were admitted shortly before birth, and the cramped conditions in homes that allowed infections to spread.
Poor hygiene standards in many homes, a lack of professional medical training for religious members and "a general indifference to the fate of children born in maternity and baby homes" contributed to the appalling infant mortality rate. the report said.
What happened to survivors?
The "illegitimate" children born in the surviving facilities faced discrimination for most of their lives, the commission said.
Most had no memory of their time there, but some remained in the facilities after their mothers left, and a small number were in facilities until they were seven years old.
Prior to legal adoption in 1953, children who left homes usually ended up in other facilities, such as trade schools, or were discharged from hospital or cared for.
While many survivors have reported having their babies stolen from them, the commission found little evidence of forced adoption.
A woman holds a placard during a funeral procession in memory of the bodies of infants discovered in a septic tank at Tuam Maternity and Baby Home in Dublin, Ireland, on October 6, 2018, in 2014
These photos are your first glimpse into life in Ireland's largest St. Patrick & # 39; s maternity and baby home on Navan Road in Dublin
The infamous Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary as a mother and baby home from 1930 to 1970
It reads: "Some ex-residents and lobby groups have proposed that" adoption "be renamed" forced adoption. "The commission does not agree.
The commission found very little evidence that children were forcibly taken from their mothers. it accepts that the mothers did not have much choice, but that is not the same as "forced" adoption.
The commission said the main reason adoption became so popular after its official introduction in 1953 was the lack of family and community support for mothers who wanted to keep their child. Availability also meant women did not have to stay in the facilities as long.
Mary Harney: When I was eleven, nuns told me my mother was dead. Then I tracked her down. & # 39;
Survivor Mary Harney shared how she tracked down her mother when she was lied to and said she was dead.
Mrs. Harney was born in February 1949 at the Bessborough Maternity and Baby Home in Cork. Her mother had only arrived there a day before she was born, and Mrs. Harney lived there two and a half years before she lived with a local family.
She said, “That wasn't a good situation. When my mom took me and took the floor because I didn't think there was a legal explanation for what happened to me … I was handed over to two middle-aged people who didn't seem to know anything about children.
While with this couple, Ms. Harney faced severe discipline and a lack of adequate care and nutrition. They were reported for neglect when she was only five years old.
She told RTÉ's Today With Claire Byrne: "I learned to open the front door and sneak into the neighbors who would feed me and also noticed bruises on me and realized how thin I was."
The neighbors reported their plight and believed they were doing the right thing. But Mrs. Harney was then in the Good Shepherd Industrial School in Cork. Amazingly, she could have returned to her mother instead.
"The lie that was told in court was that my mother's whereabouts were unknown," she recalled. At that time the nuns knew exactly where she was. They had brought her there. They had sent her to Wales, just like Bessborough, to work in one of their hospitals. «
A second, even worse, lie was told when she was eleven years old and informed that her mother had died.
"The lie went all the way until I managed to track my mom down on my own when I was around 17. And then I found out that my mom didn't leave me and we put together what happened to us," she said.
Ms. Harney said she then moved in with her mother to try to rebuild their relationship.
& # 39; It was very awkward. We couldn't put the bond back together. But we became lifelong friends and my mother was always my hero, ”she said. She added that her mother was always reluctant to talk about the reasons she went to Bessborough and that she had learned to respect it.
Ms. Harney said the leakage of the report came as no surprise to survivors, who were already disappointed that their 2018 report, advising the children's department about their worrying issues, had never been released.
She believes that although the church and society have colluded, the ultimate responsibility for the homes rests with the state.
She added, "I am immune to apologies … An apology is not worth the paper it is written on unless you commit yourself by the government to the measures necessary for redress and justice. We must have the right to unrestricted access to our identities. & # 39;
Until 1973, when the Unmarried Mothers Allowance was introduced, most women had no realistic prospect of keeping their child unless they were supported by their families.
It also states that great care should be taken not to vilify the families who have adopted children from the institutions, as it is in the best interests of the child.
'There is no doubt that the legal adoption option was a far better outcome for the children concerned than either the previous informal adoption or the foster arrangements and that fewer children spend their early life in an institution,' the report said.
It is said that 1,638 children who lived in the maternity and baby homes and district homes examined were taken abroad for adoption. The vast majority, 1,427, started a new life in the United States of America.
Conditions in the houses
The report found that there were different types of institutions with different governance, financial regulations and practices.
Some were owned by the local health authorities, such as County Homes, Pelletstown, Tuam, and Kilrush. Others belonged to and were led by religious orders, for example the three houses of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary – Bessborough, Sean Ross and Castlepollard. The Bethany Home was founded by a Protestant evangelical group.
The commission found that some of the county's homes, such as Kilrush and Tuam, were in "dire" physical conditions.
Most of the houses in the county had no sanitary facilities, no running water, no heating and no place for children to play.
Such homes have received women with special needs, mental health problems, venereal diseases or a criminal conviction that a number of maternity and baby homes would reject. They had children with special needs, including the children of married families.
“The accommodation and care of these children in district homes was completely inadequate. Some of the descriptions are extremely disturbing, ”it said.
The conditions in the other maternity and baby homes are much better and have improved over time. The women and children were strictly regulated, but there was no evidence of the nature of gross abuse in industrial schools, with few complaints of physical abuse, the report said.
The women worked, but they generally did the work they would have done at home. However, women in county homes did arduous work that should have been paid for.
Some county houses were unwilling to let women go after their babies were born and preferred to keep the free labor.
Trauma and emotional abuse
Many women have suffered emotional abuse and have been subjected to frequent denigration and derogatory remarks. "It seems that they have received little kindness, and this was particularly the case with childbirth," it said.
& # 39; The atmosphere seems cold and seemingly unkind. They offered little sympathy or advice to women who may have been rejected by their family and by the father of their child.
“Until at least the 1970s there were no qualified social workers or counselors attached to these homes, and until then there was no evidence that women had an opportunity to discuss the circumstances of their pregnancy or future options for their child .
"Women were prevented from sharing their stories with roommates to protect their privacy."
Many found the birth traumatic. The vast majority were first-time mothers and likely uninformed about the birth.
“First birth can be scary for any woman. It was undoubtedly worse for women whose pregnancy had destroyed their normal lives and removed them from home, family and friends, ”it said.
"The trauma of childbirth must have been particularly difficult for the many women who had no prospect of keeping their children."
Local authorities have often turned to the views of the House-run Orders or the local bishop.
However, there was no evidence that the Catholic hierarchy played a role in the day-to-day running of maternity and baby homes.
However, their influence was strong. In one example, the Archbishop of Tuam turned down efforts to move the Tuam home to the outskirts of Galway in the late 1950s because the new area was near a busy road.
He said houses must be in "a place that is quiet, secluded, and surrounded by high border walls." He added, “In many cases they are trying to make contact with men and some of them cannot suppress their excitement even when a man comes home to deliver a message. & # 39;
It was eventually overruled by the Minister of Health.
It was financed initially from local rates and later from general taxes. The commission said it saw no evidence that the Orders made a profit in running the houses.
"At various times it was clear that they were struggling to make ends meet and that their members were not always getting paid for their work," it said. “This was a particular problem when the workload dropped and women stayed shorter. Payments from the local authorities were not always on time. & # 39;
Capitalization rates, while not generous, have been more generous than community benefits for an adult and a child.
According to the regulations, the women (or, if they were under 16, their parents) could have been charged for staying in the homes, but this does not appear to have happened in most of the larger institutions. District residents were charged if they had an income.
According to the report, the number of unmarried Irish mothers in maternity and baby homes was likely to be the highest in the world.
Large numbers were born there in the 1970s. At that point, most maternity and baby homes in other countries had closed. The report said Ireland was not unique in believing that illegitimacy should be deplored and rejected – a view shared by most countries in the early and mid-20th centuries.
Few men have contributed to the upkeep of their child or recognized their existence. In the first half of the century many would not have been able to do this because they were farm laborers or unpaid workers on family farms or in family businesses.
A woman and her daughter pay their respects today at Tuam Cemetery, where the bodies of 796 babies were uncovered on the site of a former Catholic home for unmarried mothers and their children
In another notorious home, Bessborough, County Cork, 75 percent of children born or taken in in a single year in 1943 died. The girls from Bessborough are pictured above.
An Irish woman posted a photo of herself as a baby to track down her birth mother. "I am full of tears and the revelations about the TuamHome made me even more desperate," said the 60-year-old
Diese Fotos sind der erste Einblick in das Leben in Irlands größtem Mutter- und Babyheim St. Patrick's an der Navan Road in Dublin. Der erste Gedenktag für Kinder, die in der Wohnung gestorben sind, findet am 13. August statt
Eine Gruppe von Kindern im Tuam-Haus im Jahr 1924, wo sich ein Massengrab mit bis zu 800 Kindern im ehemaligen Mutter-Kind-Haus in Tuam, County Galway, befand
Während Mütter das Recht hatten, einen Unterhaltsantrag nach dem Gesetz über uneheliche Kinder (Zugehörigkeit) von 1930 zu stellen, erwies es sich im Allgemeinen als unmöglich, Beweise zu sichern.
Die häufigste Reaktion auf Schwangerschaften außerhalb der Ehe in anderen Ländern war der Versuch, eine schnelle Ehe zwischen der Frau und dem Vater zu arrangieren. In Irland war die Heiratsrate Anfang und Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts die niedrigste in der westlichen Welt, und Väter schienen sehr ungern zu heiraten. Viele verschwanden, als sie von der Schwangerschaft der Frau hörten.
In anderen Fällen lehnten der Mann oder die Eltern der Frau ihre Heirat wegen unterschiedlicher sozialer Herkunft oder Religion ab.
Der Bericht über Eltern, die bereit waren, ihre Tochter wieder willkommen zu heißen, aber nicht ihr Kind, enthielt viele Berichte. Die Kommission sagte, eine Erklärung dafür könnte sein, dass irische Familien die größten in der entwickelten Welt waren. Viele waren arm und lebten in überfüllten Häusern, sodass ein anderes Kind sie unter Druck gesetzt hätte.
Ein solches Kind wäre in einem Bauernhaus, in dem die Ehe des ererbenden Sohnes davon abhing, das Haus von nicht ererbenden Geschwistern zu räumen, besonders unerwünscht gewesen.
Es gab auch die Frage, ob eine Familie in der Gemeinde steht. Viele irische Ehen bis in die 1960er Jahre waren mit einem Element des Matchmaking und einer Mitgift verbunden, und diese Prozesse waren von der Seriosität einer Familie abhängig.
Viele Frauen, die ihre Schwangerschaft verheimlichten, waren sich solcher Einstellungen bewusst.
Die Kommission identifizierte sieben Impfstoffversuche, die zwischen 1934 und 1973 in den Einrichtungen stattfanden, und identifizierte eine Reihe der beteiligten Kinder.
Es hieß, die damaligen regulatorischen und ethischen Standards seien nicht eingehalten worden, da die Mütter oder ihre Erziehungsberechtigten keine Einwilligung eingeholt hätten und die erforderlichen Lizenzen nicht vorhanden seien.
Es gab jedoch keine Hinweise auf eine Verletzung infolge der Impfstoffe.
Dies ist eine COP-OUT, sagen Überlebende: Bericht "ignoriert illegale Adoptionen und gibt den Menschen einen kostenlosen Pass, um ihrem kriminellen Verhalten zu entkommen"
Von Helen Bruce
Überlebende der Mutter- und Babyheime sagten, sie seien enttäuscht von dem Bericht der Kommission, in dem sie sagten, sie hätten illegale Adoptionen "ignoriert".
Eine Dachorganisation, bestehend aus Adoption Rights Now, The Bethany Home Survivors, Beyond Adoption Ireland, Adopted Illegally Ireland, The Castlepollard Mother & Baby Home Group, Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse und der Adoption Coalition Worldwide, sagte, der Bericht sei "grundlegend unvollständig".
"Es ignoriert das größere Problem der erzwungenen Trennung von alleinerziehenden Müttern und ihren Babys seit der Gründung des Staates als Angelegenheit der offiziellen Staatspolitik", sagte die Gruppe in einer Erklärung.
„Während ein Großteil dieser Politik in Mutter- und Babyheimen umgesetzt wurde, wurden Zehntausende, die außerhalb der von dieser Untersuchung untersuchten Einrichtungen geboren wurden, ausgeschlossen. insbesondere diejenigen, die illegal adoptiert wurden.
"Die Zahlen sind erschütternd, da bis zu 15.000 Menschen möglicherweise illegal von Schurkenadoptionsagenturen adoptiert wurden, denen damals freie Hand gelassen wurde und die nun einen freien Pass erhalten haben, um ihrem kriminellen Verhalten zu entkommen."
The group said it was a 'cop out' to explain what happened in the homes as misogyny, or a massive societal failure.
'What occurred was but an aspect of the newly established State which was profoundly anti-women both in its laws and in its culture and out of which emerged the Mother and Baby Homes,' it said.
'While it was wrong for families and others to send vulnerable unmarried pregnant girls to be incarcerated in Mother and Baby Homes, the homes were handsomely paid by the taxpayers of Ireland, and the nuns and Protestant women who administered them on behalf of the state were not entitled to deprive the young girls of their legal and Constitutional rights and the right to be treated with dignity and respect.'
The group called on the Government to honour its commitments to enhanced medical cards and the long overdue funds for memorials.
Paul Jude Redmond, of the Castlepollard Mother and Baby home group, said: 'The Taoiseach has let it be known that he intends to issue an apology on behalf of the State, but they will be hollow words without concrete action to back them up.
'Illegally adopted people must have their basic human rights vindicated by the state immediately. They are entitled to the truth without further delay.'
Theresa Hiney Tinggall, of Adopted Illegally Ireland, said: 'Illegally adopted people have been left out of this investigation without any explanation, therefore this report is not fully inclusive.'
Catherine Corless, whose work in uncovering the deaths of babies in Tuam Mother and Baby Home led to the report, said the survivors had felt let down by the report and the Taoiseach's response to it.
Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, she said Micheál Martin had put the blame on society.
'Micheal Martin has let them down again, and from the reaction I am hearing, they are very disappointed,' she said.
Babies 'carried out in shoe boxes to be buried': The stories behind the homes
St Patrick's Navan Road, Dublin, 1919-1998
The majority of the 18,829 children admitted to St Patrick's Navan Road were alone at the time of their death.
Originally known as Pelletstown and later operated as Eglinton House, this institution was run by the Daughters of Charity who were employed by the relevant local authority at the time.
A total of 15,382 women and 18,829 children were admitted here between 1919 and 1998, according to commission's report.
Facilities at Pelletstown were described as 'inadequate' with just four lavatories provided for 140 women in 1950. In 1966, women were sleeping in dormitories with 52 and 30 beds respectively that offered no privacy.
A total of 3,615 children died; 78% of deaths occurred between 1920 and 1942, but unlike at many mother and baby homes, the burials of these infants are properly recorded in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Belmont Flatlets, Donnybrook, Dublin, 1980-2001
This was not a traditional mother and baby home but rather a hostel type short-term accommodation for a small number of women and children, about nine or ten at any one time.
It was opened by the Daughters of Charity and was financially supported by the Eastern Health Board. The women lived independently, but got support from social workers and public health nurses.
The commission stated: 'The mothers were there with their babies and left with their babies so the issue of tracing would not have arisen.'
Kilrush Nursery, Co. Clare, 1922-1932
The commission estimates that there were between 300 and 400 unmarried mothers and a much larger number of children in the west Clare facility.
It was run by the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy nuns up to 1928, and afterwards by lay staff, and conditions were described as 'very poor', with leaking roofs, no baths, and no inside sanitary accommodation.
The mothers who lived there were also described as neglected, with no proper clothing or comfort of any kind. The number of child deaths in this institution, however, is not known, but the medical officer described the death rate in 1927 as 'appalling'.
Bessborough House, Co. Cork, 1922-1998
The burial sites of the 923 children who died here still remain a mystery, largely due to the failings of local health authorities. A total of 9,768 women and 8,938 children passed through the institution's doors, run by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
One young mother described how she was stripped of her name, belongings and life's savings when she became a resident.
'It would have been impossible to leave; all of our things had been confiscated, we had no clothes and no money,' she said. 'From time to time we were allowed outside, but were always escorted by nuns… They marched us around like soldiers.'
Sean Ross, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, 1931-1969
The Sean Ross mother and baby home was among the homes run by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Within 38 years, 6,414 women were admitted and 6,079 babies were born there. One such resident was Philomena Lee, whose story was turned into an award-winning film in 2013. During her stay, her son was forcibly taken from her and adopted by US parents in the 1950s.
A total of 1,090 of the 6,079 babies who were born or admitted at Sean Ross had died, but the registers of burials were not maintained. However, there is a burial ground, and the commission has established the remains of some children under the age of one are buried in coffins there.
Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath, 1935-1971
Several women told the commission of investigation that they witnessed nuns leaving the hospital with up to ten dead babies in shoe boxes and bringing them for burial on the grounds nearby.
The burial sites were later marked by the presence of nails in the wall of a cemetery nearby. The facility was run by the Congregations of the Sacred Heart, and a total of 4,559 babies were born here, but there is no register of burials for the 247 infants who died.
Regina Coeli, North Brunswick Street, Dublin, 1930-1998
A total of 734 children had died at this hostel accommodation with the peak of mortalities occurring in the early 1940s.
A 1948 report claimed that infant mortality at the facility was three times the rate in Pelletstown and that the hostel lacked 'almost every proper facility in regard to both nursing and structure'.
Dunboyne, Co. Meath, 1955-1991
The Dunboyne Mother and Baby home had the highest proportion of women under 18, with minors making up 23.4% of admissions.
Over one in ten admissions to Dunboyne were aged between 12 and 16, which was under the legal age of consent. There were a total of 3,156 mothers and 1,148 children, with 37 infant mortalities.
Bethany, Dublin city and Rathgar, 1922-1971
This facility was run mainly for Protestant women, and a total of 262 children associated with the Bethany Home in Dublin died. During its 50-year operation in Blackhall Place and later Rathgar, this mother and baby home accommodated 1,584 women and 1,376 children.
The commission found that the decision to no longer admit Catholic women meant that it was less overcrowded than the other mother and baby homes in the 1940s.
Other homes mentioned in the report included: Denny House (formerly the Magdalen Asylum), 1765-1994; Miss Carr's Flatlets, Dublin, 1972-present; St Gerard's, Dublin, 1919-1939; Cork County Home, 1921-1960; Kilkenny County Home, Thomastown, 1922-1960.
Ireland's homes of shame: Horrifying report reveals 9,000 babies – one-in-six children there – died in Catholic homes during 20th Century as religious orders are urged to compensate victims
DurchCraig Hughes For The Irish Daily Mail
Ireland's Taoiseach has launched an unflinching criticism of homes run by the country's Catholic Church in the past.
Following harrowing revelations of the suffering, cruelties and shocking number of early deaths in mother and baby homes, Micheál Martin denounced Ireland's 'perverse religious morality' of previous decades.
As pressure grew on the religious orders who ran the homes to compensate survivors, he said Ireland must 'face up to the full truth of our past'.
Almost a century of abuse at the homes for unmarried women, where thousands of infants died, was laid bare yesterday in a damning report that detailed how around 9,000 children died in all, adding up to a mortality rate of 15%. The proportion of children who died before their first birthday in one home, Bessborough, in Co. Cork, was as high as 75% in 1943, it found.
The Commission of Investigation that exposed the appalling details said that before 1960, the homes did not save the lives of 'illegitimate' children; in fact they were more likely to die there.
Mr Martin said: '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 he would make a formal apology on behalf of the State in the Dáil today.
The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland last night apologised to the survivors of the mother and baby homes.
Following harrowing revelations of the suffering, cruelties and shocking number of early deaths in mother and baby homes, Micheál Martin denounced Ireland's 'perverse religious morality' of previous decades
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said the Church was clearly part of a culture in which people were frequently stigmatised, judged and rejected.
He said the survivors must be helped and supported, but made no mention of compensation.
However, the Government has committed to providing compensation to some survivors, with the Taoiseach saying the Church should make 'a significant contribution' towards the State redress scheme.
He said: 'I've taken the first step today by writing to the religious organisations, seeking to meet them on that issue. And I think it is appropriate that there is a significant contribution from religious organisations, towards the State's restorative recognition scheme, and I look forward to engaging with them on that issue.'
He declined to say what percentage of the costs he believed the Church should pay.
However, there was also no mention of compensation in the statements issued yesterday by the various religious charities involved in the running of the homes decades ago.
And there was no response from either the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the Daughters of Charity, or the Good Shepherd Sisters yesterday when the Irish Daily Mail pressed the question of compensation.
All issued statements of apology and sympathised yesterday with the women and families affected.
The report, which covered 18 mother and baby homes where, over decades, young pregnant women were hidden from society, has laid bare one of the Irish Catholic Church's darkest chapters.
Historian Catherine Corless watches Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaking during a Government webinar meeting for survivors and supporters of Church-run mother and baby homes where he outlines the first look at the report by the Commission of Investigation into the institutions before it is formally published, in Tuam, Ireland, January 12, 2021
Infants were taken from their mothers and sent overseas to be adopted. As well as this, in some cases, children in the homes were given trial vaccines without consent. Anonymous testimony from residents compared the institutions to prisons, and they said they were verbally abused by nuns as 'sinners' and 'spawn of Satan'.
Reviewers said Ireland was a cold, harsh environment for many, probably the majority, of residents during the earlier half of the period under consideration.
The report said: 'It was especially cold and harsh for women. All women suffered serious discrimination. Women who gave birth outside marriage were subject to particularly harsh treatment.'
In his statement, the Taoiseach acknowledged that it was a time of societal and Church pressure on unmarried mothers and that it dated back decades. Women were admitted to mother and baby homes and county homes because they failed to secure the support of their family and the father of their child, the report stated.
The commission said that they had no other option but to enter the institutions.
'Their lives were blighted by pregnancy outside marriage, and the responses of the father of their child, their immediate families and the wider community,' it added.
Women also suffered through traumatic labours without any pain relief.
One survivor recalled 'women screaming, a woman who had lost her mind, and a room with small white coffins'.
Relatives have alleged the babies were mistreated because they were born to unmarried mothers who, like their children, were seen as a stain on Ireland's image as a devout Catholic nation. The inquiry said those admitted included girls as young as 12.
IRISH INQUIRIES INTO ALLEGED ABUSE AT CHURCH-RUN HOMES
An Irish inquiry into alarming death rates among newborns at church-run homes for unwed mothers will hand down its final report on Tuesday, laying bare one of the Catholic Church's darkest chapters.
There have been a series of reports into allegations of abuse and mistreatment by priests and members of religious orders. Here are some details of their findings:
FERNS REPORT INTO CLERICAL SEXUAL ABUSE, OCTOBER 2005
– The first official inquiry into the activities of abusive priests – in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford – detailed the Church's handling of 100 allegations, including of rape, against 21 priests dating back to the mid-1960s. It found that for 20 years the bishop in charge of the rural diocese did not expel priests but simply transferred them to a different post.
COMMISSION TO INQUIRE INTO CHILD ABUSE, MAY 2009
– The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse issued a five-volume report which found that priests abused children between the 1930s and the 1970s in Catholic-run institutions. It described orphanages and industrial schools in 20th century Ireland as places of fear, neglect and endemic sexual abuse.
Generations of priests, nuns and Christian Brothers – a Catholic religious order – beat, starved and, in some cases raped, children, the inquiry found. Some of the testimonies spoke of children scavenging for food from waste bins, being flogged, scalded and held under water.
MURPHY REPORT INTO CLERICAL SEXUAL ABUSE, NOVEMBER 2009:
– The Murphy report investigated widespread child abuse by priests in the Dublin archdiocese between 1975 and 2004 that the Church 'obsessively' concealed under a policy of 'don't ask, don't tell' about abuse. The archdiocese was preoccupied with protecting the reputation of the Church over and above protecting children's welfare, the report said.
CLOYNE REPORT INTO CLERICAL SEXUAL ABUSE, JULY 2011:
– The report into the handling of sex abuse claims in the County Cork diocese of Cloyne showed that senior clergy were still trying to cover up abuse allegations almost until the present day, a decade after it introduced rules to protect minors, and that the Vatican was complicit in the cover-up.
Then-Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny accused the Holy See of obstructing investigations into sexual abuse by priests. The Vatican responded by recalling its ambassador to Ireland.
MAGDALENE LAUNDRIES REPORT, FEBRUARY 2013
– An official report compiled by an inter-departmental government committee into Ireland's notorious Magdalene Laundries found that 10,000 women and girls, some as young as nine, were put through an uncompromising regime of unpaid work from the foundation of the Irish state in 1922 until 1996.
The report found that many of the women – some of whom were subjected to the harsh discipline of the institutions for simply becoming pregnant outside wedlock – were sent there by the Irish state.
MOTHER-AND-BABY HOME REPORT, JANUARY 2020
– Following the 2014 discovery of an unmarked grave with the remains of hundreds of babies on the grounds of a former so-called 'mother-and-baby home', the Irish government ordered an investigation into the treatment of children at the church homes for unmarried mothers.
The report was expected to detail a level of infant mortality far higher than the average in the country at the time and accusations of physical and emotional abuse of women and children.
Government records show that the mortality rate for children at the homes, where 56,000 women and girls, including victims of rape and incest, were sent to give birth, was often more than five times that of those born to married parents.
'The report makes clear that for decades, Ireland had a stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture, where a pervasive stigmatisation of unmarried mothers and their children robbed those individuals of their agency and sometimes their future,' Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman said.
The Government said it would provide financial compensation and advance long-promised laws to excavate some of the remains and grant the residents, including many adoptees, greater access to personal information that has long been out of their reach.
However, reacting yesterday, a coalition of survivors' groups said that while the report was 'truly shocking', they still had mixed feelings because it did not fully account for the role the State played in running the homes.
'What occurred was but an aspect of the newly established State which was profoundly anti-women both in its laws and in its culture,' the group said, describing Mr Martin's statement that Irish society was to blame as a 'cop-out'.
The investigation was launched six years ago after evidence of an unmarked mass graveyard at Tuam was uncovered by amateur local historian Catherine Corless.
Speaking to RTÉ, Ms Corless said the Taoiseach had 'let survivors down again'.
The local historian, who watched a virtual presentation by Mr Martin for survivors and relatives, from her kitchen, ahead of the publication of the report, said she felt 'quite deflated' for the survivors, who had expected 'an awful lot more' from the Taoiseach.
She said: 'There isn't a lot in it for us really… In particular, we need to know what happened as regards all the deaths… how did the burials take place, in regards Tuam, who was responsible for discarding the babies and little toddlers in a sewage area. We need answers to that.'
Other survivors and advocate groups criticised the inquiry for concluding that it was impossible to prove or disprove allegations that large sums of money were given to agencies in Ireland that arranged foreign adoptions from the homes.
The report found no statutory regulations were in place for the foreign adoptions of 1,638 children, mostly sent to the United States.
Vaccine trials for diphtheria, polio, measles and rubella were also carried out on children without consent.
Archbishop of Armagh and all-Ireland primate Eamon Martin last night apologised in a statement. 'I accept that the Church was clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatised, judged and rejected; for that, and for the long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted, I unreservedly apologise to the survivors and to all those who are personally impacted by the realities it (the report) uncovers,' he said.
Mr O'Gorman has written to the religious orders seeking a meeting to discuss whether they will make an apology, contribute to the redress scheme and release records from the homes to be preserved.
In a statement, the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who ran the Bessborough home in Cork in the early 1920s, and later at Roscrea and Castlepollard, said women were sent to their home due to 'societal and family pressure to have their babies in secret'. The order said it wanted to 'sincerely apologise' to those who 'did not get the care and support they needed'.
The retired Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, last night said: 'The Church out-stepped its role and became a controlling Church', in relation to how women and children were treated in mother and baby homes.
Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, the former archbishop said those involved in the abuse 'betrayed vulnerable women, they betrayed themselves and their calling and they betrayed the caring message of Jesus Christ'.
'That should not have happened and there's no half-way of interpreting reality to try and justify that,' he said.
Head of the Irish Catholic Church apologises to survivors of brutal homes
by SOPHIE TANNO for MailOnline
The head of the Catholic church in Ireland has apologised to the survivors of the mother and baby homes.
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said the church was clearly part of a culture in which people were frequently stigmatised, judged and rejected.
Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said the church was clearly part of a culture in which people were frequently stigmatised, judged and rejected. File image of the Archbishop above
He added: 'For that, and for the long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted, I unreservedly apologise to the survivors and to all those who are personally impacted by the realities it uncovers.'
Ireland's senior cleric said the church should acknowledge sustaining what the commission of investigation report described as a harsh, cold and uncaring atmosphere.
He said: 'The commission's report helps to further open to the light what was for many years a hidden part of our shared history and it exposes the culture of isolation, secrecy and social ostracising which faced 'unmarried mothers' and their children in this country. & # 39;
He said witnesses had given courageous testimony.
'We must identify, accept and respond to the broader issues which the report raises about our past, present and future.
'Above all we must continue to find ways of reaching out to those whose personal testimonies are central to this report.
'They have shown determination in bringing to light this dark chapter in the life of church and society.
'We owe it to them to take time to study and reflect on the findings and recommendations of the report, and commit to doing what we can to help and support them.'
He said the rights of all survivors to access personal information about themselves should be fully respected and again urged the State to ensure that any remaining obstacles to information and tracing should be overcome.
'The commission believes that there may be people with further information about burial places who have not come forward. I appeal to anyone who can help to do so,' he said.
'All burial grounds should be identified and appropriately marked so that the deceased and their families will be recognised and never be forgotten.'
He said this report will stir many emotions as it further uncovers disturbing and painful truths about the past.
'I commend those who have fought to have this story told and I thank those who have already been supporting survivors through various organisations and providing a platform for their voices to be heard,' he said.
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