Taoiseach to make apology in Dáil to survivors of mother and baby homes; County mayor says she awaits apology with 'bated breath'

Taoiseach to make apology in Dáil to survivors of mother and baby homes; County mayor says she awaits apology with 'bated breath'

The Mayor of County Cork says she is waiting with bated breath for the State apology to survivors of Mother and Baby Homes by the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin this week. Picture Dan Linehan

THE Mayor of County Cork says she is waiting with bated breath for the State apology to survivors of Mother and Baby Homes by the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin this week. 

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach confirmed to The Echo that he will make an apology in the Dáil on Wednesday, following tomorrow’s publication of the report compiled by a Commission of Investigation.

Mayor of County Cork, Mary Linehan Foley, was just six weeks old when she was adopted from Bessborough Mother and Baby home in Cork city in 1966.

She said: “I await the apology with bated breath, and I am happy that it is finally being recognised that an apology is needed from the State for all involved and I will see what it entails.” 

Issues including forced adoptions and placing children in vaccine trials have been linked to the Mother and Baby Home in Bessborough.

Details of the Mother and Baby Home report have been leaked in advance of tomorrow’s publication and were published in the Sunday Independent. 

The report is expected to reveal that an estimated 9,000 children died in 18 institutions between 1922 and 1998, when the last such home closed. The report will focus on 14 mother-and-baby homes and four county homes.

The report due to be published tomorrow will focus on 14 mother and baby homes and four county homes.

The commission was set up after local historian Catherine Corless discovered that 796 infants had been buried in an unmarked mass grave in the Bon Secours mother and baby home, in Tuam, Co Galway.

UK-based Laura Angela Collins said that her grandmother, Angela Collins, was taken from a halting site in Galway and put into a county home, before being sent to St Vincent’s Magdalene laundry in Cork City, because she was an unmarried mother of three children.

Laura Angela said that she and her mother Mary are feeling nervous ahead of the publication of the report, and the apology.

Mary was among those who was interviewed for the report, and also contributed to the 2013 McAleese Report on Magdalene laundries.

Leaking of report criticised 

Social Democrats Cork South West TD Holly Cairns said “deeply disturbing details” have been leaked before survivors of the homes got a chance to read the report.

She said: “It reveals harrowing information — like some women being ‘taunted’ while in the act of giving birth.

Social Democrats Cork South West TD Holly Cairns. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Social Democrats Cork South West TD Holly Cairns. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

“These taunts linked their childbirth pain to their unmarried status.

“It is scandalous that this is such a spectacle — these are the crumbs of information survivors get because the State has refused to allow them access to their own, and the State’s, records.

“And throughout these decades of abuse, they have also been refused the ordinary democratic mechanisms of the state — courts, criminal justice, academia, debate — to function in relation to these abuses.

“I am so, so angry at the leaking of these details. I actually can’t put it into words yet except to say people deserve truth, dignity, and justice. Not this.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also criticised the leaking of the report.

She said a formal State apology was “long overdue” and “necessary”, and also said that redress needed to be provided to survivors.

The Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman, criticised the leaking of the report in a Sunday newspaper in advance of its publication tomorrow.

Last night, he tweeted: “I am deeply angered to see sensitive details of the Commission Report leaked in a newspaper this morning.

“It is completely unacceptable that the people affected by the Report have found out elements of the Report in this way. I’m seeking an investigation of how these sensitive details came into the public domain and will be raising it with Government colleagues.”

He said a webpage with information specifically for former residents of mother and baby homes has been set up. It is available here

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