Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for any inquiry into mother and baby homes to cover all such homes and all aspects of the treatment of women and children, including high mortality rates and burial practices. Proposing Sinn Fein’s motion on the issue in the Dáil this evening (Tuesday), Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“We moved quickly to table this Dáil motion once it became clear that an inquiry was absolutely necessary and that is must be undertaken as soon as possible.
“I welcome the Government’s pro-activity in the past few days. We await the full details and terms of reference of the statutory commission of investigation announced by the Minister.
“We have known for a long time now that women and children placed by the State under the so-called care of religious orders and other Church institutions in this country between the 1920s and the 1970s were treated as the outcasts of society and as non-people.
“We have seen fully revealed the horrors of the industrial schools for boys and young men and of the Magdalene laundries for girls and young women. We knew something also of the regime endured by young mothers and children in mother and baby homes, including the effective imprisonment of pregnant women, forced adoptions and the sale of babies by religious orders to wealthy Irish-American families.
“But the latest revelations from Tuam have highlighted more horrifying aspects of the regimes in these mother and baby homes and they demand immediate action to uncover the full truth.
“Foremost in our thoughts should be the surviving mothers who endured what was in reality their incarceration in these institutions and the surviving adopted children who wish to find out the truth about the identity of their parents and siblings and their wider families, if any.
“Between 1925 and 1961 796 children died in the Bon Secours mother and baby home. Their names are recorded and were accessed by Catherine Corless in the Births and Deaths Registry in Galway.
“What has brought this story to national and international attention is the manner of the children’s burial, anonymously, without any kind of individual identification or markers and apparently in a mass grave. That has caused widespread revulsion and has reopened and highlighted anew the scandal of mother and baby homes in this State.
“It is important to investigate the truth of past wrongs and past abuses such as those in mother and baby homes - not only for the survivors but also for the well-being of our society today and into the future.”