Author Topic: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published  (Read 377 times)

Sheilbh

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Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« on: January 13, 2021, 07:37:02 am »
Report published by inquiry in Ireland into the mother and baby homes that operated until 1998 for unwed pregnant women and illegitimate children. And it is awful:
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Taoiseach to apologise on State’s behalf over mother and baby homes
Dáil statement comes amid apologies from religious orders and church authorities
46 minutes ago Updated: 11 minutes ago
Marie O'Halloran

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will make a formal apology in the Dáil today on behalf of the State to the former residents of mother and baby homes.

In advance of the statement, there were testy exchanges in the Dáil as Mr Martin insisted that nothing he said about mother and baby homes had sought to diminish the responsibility of the State or churches for what happened to women and children in those institutions.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett called on the Taoiseach to apologise for his comments he made on Tuesday, claiming Mr Martin was attempting to spread responsibility for the abuse of women and children to wider society.

Mr Martin said, however, that when briefing survivors in an online meeting on Tuesday - ahead of the publication the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report - “I spoke of the perverse moral code overseen by the church that in my view was responsible for this in terms of its attitude to sexual morality”.


He said this was at the heart of forcing women into mother and baby homes.

It was not accurate to portray his comments “in a certain light”, he told Mr Boyd Barrett.

The report, published on Tuesday afternoon, showed 9,000 children died in mother and baby homes between 1922 and 1998.

In all, 15 per cent of the approximately 57,000 children who were in the 18 institutions investigated by the commission died during their time there.


The “very high rate of infant mortality” during the first year of the babies’ lives in the institutions “is probably the most disquieting feature of these institutions,” the commission report, published on Tuesday, found.

One of its main recommendations was that people born in such homes should to have a legal right to access their original birth certificate and to information about their birth parents.

It also recommended that compensation be paid to some women who were in the homes, and are still alive, along with children who spent time there, modelled on the redress scheme set up for Magdalene Laundries survivors


The Catholic Church and the operators of several mother and baby homes have issued separate apologies.

The head of the Irish Catholic Church, Archbishop Eamon Martin, said on Tuesday night he accepted that the church “was clearly part” of a 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 uncovers,” he said.

The Sisters of Bon Secours - which ran the Tuam mother and babies home from 1925 to 1961 - said: “We offer our profound apologies to all the women and children of St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home, to their families and to the people of this country.”

They said: “We failed to respect the inherent dignity of the women and children who came to the home.”

The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which owned and ran three of the largest homes, said it accepted “that so many women who were shunned and shamed by society did not find the support and level of care they needed and deserved at such a dreadful and painful time in their lives”. They said it was “a matter of great sorrow to us that babies died while under our care”.

In the Dáil, Mr Boyd Barrett said some of the phrases in the executive summary of the report “are disgraceful and should be withdrawn” and were trying to disperse responsibility to wider society.

“Some of the passages of the report tried to shift abuse away from the Church and State”.

“The report and official political commentary are beginning to look like a sham, and an insult and a whitewash” of the treatment of women and children in those homes, Mr Boyd Barrett said.


The Taoiseach said “My remarks in no way sought to diminish the role of the churches or the State” and it was wrong to portray his comments “in a certain light”.

Some of the chapters deal with specific homes. For example - as a reporter I follow has been quoting from - Castlepollard. The home was cold because the heating system used too much electricity. Electricity was generated on site through burning logs (that were chopped by malnourished pregnant women - who would also do farm labour), but the power was used to supply the local town rather than the home.

The home did not feed children after 6pm. Babies were moved to spoon feeding at the age of two months and a diet of potatoes and soup at six months. Some state inspectors and councillors did raise queries about, for example, the very high infant death rate but the Sister in charge noted that they were "dealing with a class of mothers who in the vast majority of cases, does not want the baby to survive".

Women were typically detained in the home for two years as any shorter would not allow the institution to "reform" them. Some of the individual stories are very moving. A mother in the early sixties who became pregnant and 19 - her mother sent her to the home and she had no say. She was given no pain medication during labour and then sent to work in the laundry to pay the cost of the home. She was allowed to bathe the baby but that was it because the nuns didn't want attachments to form (the children would be put up for adoption in the US or moved into the industrial schools etc). This woman's child was adopted by an American couple and taken from her while she was saying goodbye.

Another woman was pregnant due to rape. She went to her rapists parish priest who sexually assaulted her. Her own parish priest sent her to the home. She was routinely and painfully examined by the medical officer. She had quite difficult labour which eventually required the medical officer to help with a forceps delivery - she was then stitched without anaesthetic and sufffered permanent nerve damage. She was then put with foster parents and then re-admitted. Eventually she was persuaded to allow adoption of her child to an American couple (thankfully she now as a wonderful relationship with her daughter) and her birth mother helped her escape to the UK.

Just full of stories like this. It's a really dark part of recent (1998!) life in Ireland that wasn't really discussed or acknowledged for a long time. I get the point the report makes about this being driven by social attitudes and that the church didn't create those social attitudes but it does feel like a bit too much blame has been diverted from the state and the church.
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The Larch

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 09:09:54 am »
And people will still be surprised to see that Ireland is less and less Catholic over time.

Richard Hakluyt

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 09:22:08 am »
Utterly horrific.......and 1998!!  :(

Sheilbh

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 09:25:36 am »
And people will still be surprised to see that Ireland is less and less Catholic over time.
Yeah. And I'm seeing a lot of commentary about how this was Ireland of 50 years ago when the state basically didn't have the resources for education or social welfare (or health) policy so just outsourced it to the Church - but these homes were still in operation in the 80s and the 90s.

The institutional abuse in these homes, the abuse of women in the Magdalen laundries, the sexual abuse of children in Christian Brother (and other schools) etc. And that's without thinking about things like the consequences of the abortion ban (again with England/the UK as a place of refuge/escape for women). It's extraordinary and at every level or part of society where the Church basically operated as the state - I don't know about Spain, I think it might have been similar in Quebec but it's just so grim the power they had and the way it was used which justifies why they are utterly sidelined now. (And it is worth pointint out this is why the unionist fear that Home Rule = Rome Rule wasn't entirely nonsense - the Church ran social welfare, schools, hospitals etc.)

It makes me think of Calvary which is an incredible film but maybe too kind now.
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The Brain

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 09:46:36 am »
Catholicism is weird. The great value attached to organized abuse.
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Tyr

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 10:00:00 am »
Mighty fucked for sure. And does add some perspective to the conspiracies of the protestants about Irish independence

And people will still be surprised to see that Ireland is less and less Catholic over time.
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The Larch

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 10:38:28 am »
And people will still be surprised to see that Ireland is less and less Catholic over time.
Yeah. And I'm seeing a lot of commentary about how this was Ireland of 50 years ago when the state basically didn't have the resources for education or social welfare (or health) policy so just outsourced it to the Church - but these homes were still in operation in the 80s and the 90s.

The institutional abuse in these homes, the abuse of women in the Magdalen laundries, the sexual abuse of children in Christian Brother (and other schools) etc. And that's without thinking about things like the consequences of the abortion ban (again with England/the UK as a place of refuge/escape for women). It's extraordinary and at every level or part of society where the Church basically operated as the state - I don't know about Spain, I think it might have been similar in Quebec but it's just so grim the power they had and the way it was used which justifies why they are utterly sidelined now. (And it is worth pointint out this is why the unionist fear that Home Rule = Rome Rule wasn't entirely nonsense - the Church ran social welfare, schools, hospitals etc.)

The sheer amount of deaths, plain and simple deaths, that these religious orders hid is astonishing. A buddy of mine worked for several years in Ireland and lived in a village in County Galway where one of these houses that was only active until the early 60s was located, and they ended up digging litearlly hundreds of skeletons from babies buried in an unmarked mass grave. From an article on it back in 2017, when the excavations took place:

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Mass grave of babies and children found at Tuam care home in Ireland

Excavations at site of home for unmarried mothers and their children, where it is alleged up to 800 children died, uncover human remains

A mass grave containing the remains of babies and children has been discovered at a former Catholic care home in Ireland where it has been alleged up to 800 died, government-appointed investigators said on Friday.

Excavations at the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, have uncovered an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains”, the judge-led mother and baby homes commission said.

The commission said analysis of selected remains revealed ages of the deceased ranged from 35 weeks to three years old. It found that the dead had been mostly buried in the 1950s, when the facility was one of more than a dozen in Ireland offering shelter to orphans, unmarried mothers and their children. The Tuam home closed in 1961.

The home, run by the Bon Secours Sisters, a Catholic religious order of nuns, received unmarried pregnant women to give birth. The women were separated from their children, who remained elsewhere in the home, raised by nuns, until they could be adopted.

The discovery confirms decades of suspicions that the vast majority of children who died at the home were interred on the site in unmarked graves, a common practice at such Catholic-run facilities amid high child mortality rates in early 20th-century Ireland.

Nothing as severe as this took place in Spain during Francoism, AFAIK, but what took place was that women giving birth out of wedlock in religious institutions would get their babies stolen by the nuns and doctors, and then these babies would be put up for adoption to "proper" families, and this carried on in secret until the mid 80s, IIRC. Similar things happened in South America during their fascist military dictatorships, also with the forced adoptions of sons of leftists families that got their babies stolen and given to families closer to the Juntas.

Quote
It makes me think of Calvary which is an incredible film but maybe too kind now.

Or Philomena.

Sheilbh

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2021, 09:18:43 am »
The sheer amount of deaths, plain and simple deaths, that these religious orders hid is astonishing. A buddy of mine worked for several years in Ireland and lived in a village in County Galway where one of these houses that was only active until the early 60s was located, and they ended up digging litearlly hundreds of skeletons from babies buried in an unmarked mass grave. From an article on it back in 2017, when the excavations took place:
Yeah - the front page of the Irish Examiner was just the names of the children who died in Bessborough home - that's one home:


And Tuam is particularly infamous. It was run by the Bon Secours Sisters who have only now apologised. And one of the crazy/frustrating things about Ireland is because the church ran social welfare for the state they still actually own loads of the hospitals and properties used in Ireland.

So for example the same Bon Secours order own a huge number of Irish hospitals which are broadly run at a profit from the state. The fact that Catholic organisations own so many of the hospitals and health care infrastructure is another side to the extreme anti-abortion position in Ireland until recently.  It's just disgusting that the same orders that did this, because of their ownership of land and property, are still making money from hospitals and similar instittuions.

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Nothing as severe as this took place in Spain during Francoism, AFAIK, but what took place was that women giving birth out of wedlock in religious institutions would get their babies stolen by the nuns and doctors, and then these babies would be put up for adoption to "proper" families, and this carried on in secret until the mid 80s, IIRC. Similar things happened in South America during their fascist military dictatorships, also with the forced adoptions of sons of leftists families that got their babies stolen and given to families closer to the Juntas.
Yeah - I've read about it in Argentina but didn't know how much it happened in other countries. In Ireland it was less political. It wasn't from dissidents/leftists and children weren't placed with "proper" families in Ireland. Instead there was a great market for adoptions in Irish-Americans who wanted to adopt so lots of children were taken from their mothers (and legally the mothers signed adoption papers) and shipped to the US, because the child was out of wedlock.

And the alternative - if the mother didn't sign the adoption papers was very often that their kids would be put in industrial schools or reformatories (and the mothers in institutions like the Magdalen laundries for "fallen women"). There was an entire architecture and structure of abuse and control.
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viper37

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Re: Mother and Baby Homes Report Published
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2021, 01:31:50 pm »
I think it might have been similar in Quebec
it was, until the 60s.  Nearly overnight (in government terms, it was pretty quick, the changes into govt and society operated in the space of a decade) ;) ), school & hospitals came back fully under the spell of the government.  We had our own horror stories, and a government apology, with monetary compensation to the victims, often referred to as "Duplessis' orphans" for the name of the Premier most associated with the Church dominance on our life (though he wasn't the only one, only the one with the most vocal Church support - heaven is Blue [Conservative Party], hell is Red [Liberal Party] - they might have been unto something there, though... ;) ).

Beatings and sexual abuse were pretty common for orphans give in the care of priests&nuns, but also for regular students at private colleges.
 
I believe some of the abuses persisted up to the 70s in some place, and I think I have heard forced adoption of First Nations children was still something in the early 70s (mother goes to the hospital, nurses secretly steal the baby and send it for international adoption, the mother is told the baby died but she can't see it because the remains have already been cremated).  Religion mixed with a concept of White Christian superiority gave great results <sigh>.

My mom's brother was adopted, and he lacked oxygen at birth (that left sequels; huge behavioral sequels.).  Due to his mother being pregnant out of wedlock, the Sisters caring for her were of the belief that she should suffer as much as possible to expiate her sins.  That was pretty common in the 50s. :(
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