Mother and baby home survivors call for inclusion in redress scheme

Babies born in an institution but spending less than six months there are not eligible for financial support
Mother and baby home survivors call for inclusion in redress scheme

By Cate McCurry and Dominic McGrath, PA

Survivors of mother and baby homes have staged a protest against the Government’s redress scheme.

A group of campaigners criticised the scheme as a “disgrace” and called on the Government to amend the plan to reflect their needs.

Under the current plan, survivors of the mother and baby institutions will be eligible for payments of up to €65,000.

However, babies born in an institution but spending less than six months there are not eligible for financial support.

Mother and Baby Home Protest
Majella Connelly takes part in a Protest outside Leinster House (Niall Carson/PA)

Gathered outside Leinster House, campaigners said the redress scheme needs to be survivor-led.

Majella Connelly was born in St Patrick’s mother and baby home in Dublin.

“I was taken from my mother when I was six weeks old. I don’t have a legal birth certificate. I am 50 and I still have no birth certificate,” Ms Connelly said.

“We addressed this with (Minister for Children) Roderic O’Gorman last year. I am still a second class citizen in this country and I am asking why are we not given our human rights? We want our human rights.

“I share the same sort of certificate as my rescue dog – we both have an adopted cert. I am different to everyone else. I am not allowed my original birth cert. I want that baby born 50 years legally recognised.

 

“I want the Government to engage with us.”

Susan Dunne was also born in St Patrick’s in 1975.

“I am disappointed with the redress scheme – it needs to be redone to include everybody,” she added.

“Everyone’s needs have not yet been met.”

Marie Arbuckle had her two-week-old baby son taken away from her when she was in a Dublin mother and baby institution.

“They brought him back to the north for adoption,” Ms Arbuckle said.

For 40 years, she was prevented from looking for her son, and told that only he could search for her.

“All of a sudden it all changed,” she told the PA news agency.

Mother and Baby Home Protest
Marie Arbuckle taking part in a Protest outside Leinster House (Niall Carson/PA)

“Social services gave my name to him and his partner Googled me and found me and she went to my Facebook and saw that I had been searching for him for years.

“He said I can’t wait any longer and he contacted me and we met up and it turned out he was in my home town all along.”

She added: “I think this redress is a disgrace, how can someone who never walked in our shoes make this decision?

“We want this to be squashed and a new one brought it. It needs to be survivor-led.”

Sinn Féin is to table a motion to call on Mr O’Gorman to urgently review issues in the scheme.

Sinn Féin TD Kathleen Funchion said: “To that we’re disappointed is a major understatement and survivors have been left pretty much insulted.”

She told reporters that the scheme excludes a significant number of survivors.

Ms Funchion added that many women, who had been left with “very serious physical conditions”, had been hoping to be eligible for a medical card and would now be unable to access one.

She said: “A lot of women I would deal with have really been waiting on this medical card and now it turns out you have to have six months stay in an institution to qualify for this.”

She called the scheme “a disappointment and a slap in a face for survivors, for their families, for their advocacy groups, who have been consistently failed by the state”.

She added: “We talk a lot about ‘this was a dark time in our history’.

“I really struggle with that statement, because while the state continues to fail women and the children who are now adults, who were born in these institutions, the state is now playing a part in that as well. So it is not something that is confined to history. It is very much part of our present.”

She said that religious institutions and pharmaceutical companies need to “play a part” in the scheme.

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