Ireland was 'cold and harsh' to mother and baby residents, report finds

Ireland was 'cold and harsh' to mother and baby residents, report finds

The final report of an inquiry into the mother-and-baby homes is to be published Tuesday.

Ireland confronted one of the darkest chapters of its past yesterday with the publication of a report detailing how 9,000 children died in state-run homes for youngsters born out of wedlock. It examined conditions and policies at 18 such homes where Ireland sent 56,000 women with out-of-wedlock pregnancies from the 1920s to the 1990s.

The Government is to consider the report in the "weeks and months ahead", they said in a statement.

"We especially want to recognise and accept today that so many women who were shunned and shamed by society did not find the support and level of care they needed and deserved at such a awful and painful time in their lives", a statement from the order read. "Young mothers and their sons and daughters paid a bad price for that dysfunction".

"As a society we embraced judgementalism, moral certainty, a perverse religious morality and control which was so damaging".

While the Commission stated the first report of the registrar general of the Irish Free State drew attention to the "appalling" excess mortality rates of children born to unmarried mothers, and later reports compiled by the Department of Local Government and Public Health also acknowledged this fact, it stated that there was little evidence to suggest that members of the public and politicians were concerned about these children. The role of the state is complicit.

The report said "the women and children should not have been in the institutions" and that many women suffered emotional abuse.

Births and admissions peaked in 1946 at 142, but thereafter maintained a downward trend until the home closed in 1961.

The Commission of Investigation was established after Galway based historian Catherine Corless discovered death certificates for nearly 800 infants at a home run by the Bon Secours Sisters in Tuam.

Martin praised Corless as "a tireless crusader for dignity and truth".

A total of about 9,000 children died in the institutions under investigation - about 15% of all the children who were in the institutions.

The mother-and-baby homes took in women, some as young as 12, who had become pregnant outside marriage - taboo in the conservative country - and were viewed as an attempt to preserve the country's devout Catholic image.

Survivors have expressed their frustration at the leaking of the report, which the Children's Minister has said will be investigated.

It explores, in-depth, a wide range of issues, including living conditions, mother and child mortality, illegal adoption and social attitudes towards the occupants of the homes.

The mothers commonly were separated from their surviving children, who ended up as boarders in workhouse-style industrial schools or as farm laborers.

Mr Martin added: "While this report will obviously have the most direct impact on survivors and their families, it presents all of Irish society with profound questions".

Some homes facilitated vaccine trials on children in which no consent was sought from their mothers or guardians.

It also highlighted a total of seven unethical vaccine trials on children in the institutions between 1934 and 1973.

The commission has made 53 recommendations, including compensation and memorialisation.

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