DUBLIN: On Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin officially apologised in state and church-run homes, where thousands of children died over decades, for the care of pregnant women and their infants.
Yet as a “cop out” who played down the position of the church and the administration, activists for the survivors of the homes denounced the official investigation into the crisis.
Martin told the Dail lower legislative chamber that tenants at the so-called “mother and baby homes” had suffered a “profound generational error.”
A six-year investigation concluded on Tuesday that 9,000 children were murdered in schools working in the historically Catholic country as early as 1998.
The Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes (CIMBH) reported that over 76 years, 56,000 single women and 57,000 infants went through the institutions.
Infants experienced a “appalling” 15 percent death rate, while in “cold and seemingly uncaring” situations, the mothers suffered emotional abuse.
Martin said, “I apologise for the shame and stigma they have been subjected to and which, for some, remains a burden to this day.”
I want to stress that, regardless of the wrongs of others, everyone of you was in an organisation,’ he said.
“The study revealed, he said, “major deficiencies in the administration, churches and society.
A combination of general “poorhouses” and those exclusively for women and girls, the CIMBH study reviewed 18 households.
They sheltered single women who, owing to the mainstream Catholic dogma of society, were pregnant, were unsupported by husbands and families, and faced extreme social stigma.
Children born in hospitals are frequently removed from their mothers and placed up for adoption, severing family bonds. Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland, the country’s senior Catholic cleric, apologised “unreservedly” for the church’s involvement in the homes on Tuesday night.
He said, “I accept that the church was clearly part of that culture in which individuals were often stigmatised, judged and rejected.” The CIMBH was founded in 2015 after evidence of a suspected mass grave of babies was found by an amateur historian at one such home in the city of Tuam in western Ireland.
Survivors greatly awaited its conclusions, but there have also been claims that it minimises the position played by the church and state.
A review said responsibility for brutal treatment of women “remains primarily with their children’s fathers and their own immediate families” but was “supported by…” The society and the churches.
While it claimed that in most cases there was “no evidence” that women were made to give up their children for adoption or were forced to accept families, it agreed that “most women had no alternative.” “But the report was criticised by campaigners as a “cop out”.
Church and state coerced the families,’ said Paul Redmond, chair of the Alliance of Mother and Baby Home Survivors.
“In this country, it was official policy until 1974 to separate single mothers and their children essentially. Between 10,000 and 15,000 “illegally adopted” from the households were “absolutely missed” in the results.”