DUBLIN — Ireland’s head of government Micheál Martin on Wednesday apologised on behalf of the state to former residents of so-called mother and baby homes for “unforgivable” treatment spanning nearly 8 decades.
Citing a “profound generational wrong” inflicted on unmarried mothers and their children, Martin, Ireland’s Taoiseach, or Prime Minister, apologised “for the shame and stigma they were subjected to.”
Martin’s statement to Ireland’s parliament came one day after the publication of a report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
The almost 3000-pages-long document outlined a “very high rate of infant mortality” in the homes, which housed “about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children.”
The report said that in Ireland, “women who gave birth outside marriage were subject to particularly harsh treatment.”
Although responsibility for such treatment lay “mainly with the fathers of their children and their own immediate families,” according to the report, it was “supported by, contributed to, and condoned by, the institutions of the State and the Churches,” and by Irish society, meaning some women “had no alternative” but to enter the homes.
The homes were mostly run by local authorities or religious orders. Eamon Martin, the head of Ireland’s Catholic bishops, on Tuesday said that he “accept[ed] that the Church was clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, judged and rejected.”
The investigation was set up after Catherine Corless, a historian, discovered disparities between death certificates and burial records at a home in Tuam in Ireland’s west, prompting suggestions that almost 800 infants could have been interred in unmarked graves. The commission reported that “it is likely that most of the children who died in Tuam are buried inappropriately in the grounds of the institution.”Show