County councillor, born in Bessborough, calls on Minister to safeguard sale

County councillor, born in Bessborough, calls on Minister to safeguard sale
Cllr Mary Linehan Foley

County Councillor Mary Linehan Foley who was born in Bessborough house has called for the sale of the building to be treated with sensitivity.

Mary Linehan Foley, who says she was one of the lucky ones, said she associated with a number of women who don’t know what happened their children.

Ms Linehan Foley said she would like to write to Minister for Children Katherine Zappone in order to see the state engage with the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who own the site, to see that it is sensitively sold.

“I would like to see a memorial garden in there to remember the babies that were born there and never came home.” The motion gathered a great deal of cross-party support.

Sinn Féin Councillor Danielle Twomey said that history of the building should be respected and that the State should look at purchasing the building.

Green Party Councillor Liam Quaide said Bessborough was a place of “intense suffering for so many mothers and children, where vital human bonds were painfully severed by religious oppression.

Flowers and toys seen on the railings of Bessborough House Centre during the recent candlelight vigil. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Flowers and toys seen on the railings of Bessborough House Centre during the recent candlelight vigil. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“Bessborough House is crowded with memories that we should honour and commemorate. The site contains burial grounds that have not been fully examined. A total of 470 infants, that we know of, died in Bessborough House between 1934 and 1953.” Fine Gael Councillor Susan McCarthy said it was an extremely sensitive subject and the state needed to atone for the mistakes of the past.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Seamus McGrath said that this motion was an important one to raise.

“Bessborough represented a dark chapter in our history. Councillor Linehan Foley has been very reasonable in her ask, I would be calling for the State to purchase the property.” A number of councillors agreed that the State should be asked to look at purchasing the building.

Councillor Linehan Foley said that she would like to amend the motion to write to Minister Zappone asking her to intervene in the sale of Bessborough House and ensure that it was treated sensitively as well as looking at the possibility of the State purchasing part of the site and using it for something that would do good.

“That would sit right with me,” Councillor Linehan Foley said.

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