Philomena Lee: Govt should compensate mother and baby home survivors

Philomena Lee: Govt Should Compensate Mother And Baby Home Survivors
Philomena Lee, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Cate McCurry, PA

Mother and baby home survivor Philomena Lee has said the families should be paid compensation for their “unbearable suffering” at the hands of the State.

Ms Lee, whose life was the subject of the film Philomena, also criticised the leaking of the mother and baby homes report, saying it will add to the “heartache and trauma” of those affected.

She said she was “dismayed” that details of the report were leaked.

Ms Lee grew up in an orphanage and, after leaving at the age of 18, she became pregnant and was sent to Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home.

She said she became an “unpaid servant” and was subject to the tyranny of the nuns, who told her she was shameful and sinful.

Three years later, her son Anthony was taken from Ms Lee without her knowledge or consent and sent to the US.


Her life was the subject of the 2013 film, in which Judi Dench played Ms Lee.

Ahead of the publication of the report on Tuesday, Ms Lee said she has waited decades for this moment.

The location of the infant cemetery at the site of the former Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home in Roscrea, Co Tipperary (Brian Lawless/PA)

“The moment when Ireland reveals how tens of thousands of unmarried mothers, such as I, and the tens of thousands of our beloved children, such as my dear son Anthony, were torn asunder, simply because we were unwed at the moment our children were born,” she added.

“For the purposes of healing, I believe it is essential that the Irish State and various churches involved in the enslavement of unmarried mothers and the trading of their children, would apologise, without reservation and would compensate the many generations of families, who have suffered unbearable suffering and loss as a result of the state’s failure to recognise and honour the equality promised to all Irish citizens by the state’s founders.

“I can only hope that the authors of this report, recognise these facts and that those of us who were detained against our will in ‘mother and baby homes’ and gave birth there, are not all of the mothers nor all of the children who have suffered.


“The tens of thousands who went through state maternity hospitals, state children’s hospitals and various private institutions suffered the same fate, the unlawful destruction of their families, through forced adoption, child trafficking and forced labour.

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“I am dismayed that portions of the report have been leaked to the press ahead of the survivors having sight of it and digesting its findings.

“This will undoubtedly add to the heartache and trauma of those directly affected and I am concerned for the welfare of all.

“Irish people owe it to the memory of those mothers and children, who have died, without knowing the truth and to resolve that such atrocities will never be allowed to happen again.”

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