Campaigners reveal human rights fears for mother and baby homes report

ireland
Mother and baby homes protest, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Cate McCurry and James Ward, PA

There are concerns the Government will “trivialise” human-rights issues in mother and baby homes in a report published this week, campaigners have said.

Susan Lohan, co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, also criticised the leaking of details of the report.

The report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation will be officially published on Tuesday but some details were reported in the Sunday Independent.

The report will reveal that up to 9,000 children died in 18 institutions between 1922 and the closure of the last such home in 1998.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin is set to make a formal State apology to survivors of the mother and baby homes in the Dail on Wednesday.

Ms Lohan criticised the Government’s handling of the report, saying the Department of Children were asking for postal addresses of forum members as late as Friday.

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She told RTE Morning Ireland she expects the details within the report to vindicate everything that survivors have said about what happened inside the mother and baby homes.

Human rights issues

She added that the mothers and children have “very clear memories” of the institutions.

"It seems to me that the Government is about to trivialise the really big human rights issues that occurred in those homes."

“Now that we know that the deaths of 9,000 children and babies have been confirmed, that fear is going to be even greater in the minds of so many mothers this morning.

“I think the tone of the report that we’ve been given to believe is one of describing the conditions in the homes but, of course, the big question, the elephant in the room, is why were these homes established in the first place?

“For years survivor groups have been saying that this is a form of social engineering, that the State and (Catholic) church worked in concert to ensure that women, unmarried mothers and girls who were deemed to be a threat to the moral tone of the country.

"That they want to be out of public sight, incarcerated behind these very high walls to ensure that they would not impact or offend public morality.

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“To achieve that aim, the children of those of those mothers were to be taken and given to ‘good Catholics’, or in the case of the Protestant Church, to ‘good Protestants’.

“I’m not hopeful that those big issues are going to be addressed. That is the kind of commentary that survivors are going to want to see.”

Long-awaited report

The report, which will run to 3,000 pages, focuses on 14 mother-and-baby homes and four county homes.

Mr Martin is to address the Dail on Wednesday following the publication of the long-awaited report.

However, Ms Lohan said survivors should be given more time to read through the extensive details and findings.

She added that the Taoiseach’s apology should be the start of a “series of apologies”.

“The report is over 3,000 pages – survivors will not have their hands on it until Tuesday,” she added.

“How can they possibly adjudicate on the sincerity and detail of a State apology until they’ve had weeks to digest the full report?”

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The Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has called for a full investigation into the leaking of the report after details of it appeared in the Sunday Independent.

Ireland
Leaking of mother and baby homes report 'disappoin...
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He told RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne: “It’s a problem in Government, it is a problem in the public service, unfortunately, that information once shared beyond a small number of people sometimes appears in the papers.

“It’s not an excuse because there is no an excuse for these things. But I think on this occasion, there will be an investigation and hopefully whoever was responsible will be held to account.”

However, Mr Varadkar admitted that such investigations are rarely successful. “Historically, they tend not to be very good at finding things” he said.

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