The State 'must bear primary responsibility' for mother-and-baby homes, says President Higgins 

The State 'must bear primary responsibility' for mother-and-baby homes, says President Higgins 

President Michael D Higgins has said the State that must bear primary responsibility for its failure to provide support for tens of thousands of young women and their children, following the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes report.

PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has responded to the publication of the report on Ireland’s mother-and-baby homes, saying that the State "must bear primary responsibility” for failing to support the thousands of young women and their children.

In a statement, the President said that he welcomed the publication of the Commission’s Report and the apologies which were offered, but his thoughts remain with those who were impacted by Ireland’s mother-and-baby homes.

“My thoughts must be, as they have been so often before, of the mothers and of the infants who died; of those children who survived and who continue to carry the trauma of their early lives, and beyond that the burden of being deprived of information about their birth parents.

"All of those women, alive and dead, who have borne the scars of their experiences, the shame and secrecy imposed upon them, and the life-long burden for so many arising from trauma, bereavement or separation from their children," he continued.

He said that the publication of the report is “not a conclusion” but rather “an indication of the further work that is required to bring to light a fuller understanding of what occurred, and why”.

“It is the State that is charged with safeguarding the welfare of its most vulnerable citizens, and it is the State that must bear primary responsibility for failing to provide appropriate supports for these tens of thousands of young women and their children.

“It is important, too, to recognise, and with what consequences, how a newly independent State was captured by a judgemental, authoritarian version of Church/State relations that sought to be the sole and ultimate arbiter of morality.” 

He said that as a State, we must “acknowledge the institutional failings and its culpability in allowing conditions to persist in these homes” but that our focus must now be to meet the needs of survivors.

“Our focus now, as a State and as a community, must be to urgently meet the needs of, and address the concerns of the survivors and their families, as they have experienced and expressed them, and do whatever is necessary to support them."

In the statement, President Higgins noted the importance of thanking those who urged investigation into the mother-and-baby homes, including Catherine Corless who he said: “drew back the veil on what is a hidden scandal protected for far too long".

He concluded the statement by urging people to never forget the pain that was created and to “craft a better place for our, and future generations”.

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