Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report sheds light on the darkest days of Ireland’s past
The Children’s Rights Alliance responds to the publication today (12.01.21) of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
Speaking in response to the Report’s publication, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward said, “This Report sheds light on some of the darkest days of our past. It is an Ireland people wish to forget but the people and stories at the centre of this experience cannot be forgotten. What women went through, cannot be forgotten. What children went through, cannot be forgotten. Thousands and thousands of small children died and were buried in unmarked graves. Becoming pregnant in Ireland when you were unmarried was a terrifying prospect because of how families, society and institutions treated mothers. What is most shocking is how women were treated while giving birth – the utter lack of human dignity that was afforded to them. The Gardaí were never called when children and young girls arrived pregnant in Mother and Baby Homes. Children continued until 1987 to be tarred with the legal concept of illegitimacy and suffered discrimination for most of their lives.
It will, and should, take more time to digest all this Report contains but as we do, it is important we use this moment to draw a line in the sand for what we expect from the State and our laws when it comes to the duty and care of children, of women and of families in this country.”
“The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomed the establishment of the Commission in 2014, following similar inquiries such as the Murphy Report and the Ryan Report which were important vehicles to discover the truth about our past and the violation of children’s rights that occurred. For so long, it was the bravery of those willing to share their personal story that uncovered information about the care regime in place in the Mother and Baby Homes. With an inquiry of this scale, the Government rightly stepped up to investigate further.
We hope this Report would be one way of providing some closure to the families directly affected although we are aware that it also has the potential to make survivors relive their own trauma. While it is truly shocking and deeply upsetting to read the findings of the Report, it is important that what happened to thousands of women and children has finally been acknowledged by the State and the veil of secrecy, which was so damaging, has been discarded. However, there will still be unanswered questions for many survivors,” continued Tanya Ward.
“There will be much condemnation for Ireland of the past for weeks to come. The survivors need justice, redress and closure for this horrific episode and this needs to be a government priority. Government also needs to urgently introduce legislation that gives adopted people access to their birth certificates and associated information. The Commission notes that a referendum may be necessary to allow this to happen. Should this be the case, we believe the Government must make that commitment.
However, we need to recognise that even to this day we continue to discriminate against unmarried women and their children. To this day our Constitution fails to recognise them as ‘a family’. Approximately 50% of the children of lone parents continue to live in poverty. Life is still a struggle for these families and this is unacceptable in Ireland in 2021. We are calling on Government in implementing this report to call a referendum to change the definition of the family and to introduce a national child poverty action plan with a special focus on one-parent families.
“This Report sends a clear message that children and women deserve better, and we support Government’s acknowledgement of the role the State played in condoning such neglect of the most vulnerable in society. Its publication and the implementation of the supporting Action Plan needs to send a message to children and women today, that the State will ensure that this never happens again,” concluded Tanya Ward.
Contact: Emma Archbold Children’s Rights Alliance, Tel: 01-662 9400 / 0879971410, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editor:
• Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children's Rights Alliance is available for interview.
The Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Mother and Baby Homes is available here.
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About the Children’s Rights Alliance
• Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.