A backlash against the Mother and Baby Home report threatened to overshadow the Taoiseach’s formal State apology in the Dáil yesterday.
Survivors had specifically asked for the apology to be delayed so that they could absorb its findings over the course of 3,000 pages.
Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly held up the report’s executive summary, saying TDs had received it before victims – the latter were only told at the end of a webinar where they could download the full documents.
TDs also raised repeated objections to the report’s repeated claim that there was “no evidence” of forced entry, forced adoption or even physical and sexual abuse – when the report appended personal testimonies to just such occurrences.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said she has a personal friend who was made to cut grass with a scissors, declared: “There was slight hope that publication of the report would bring truth and real accountability but for many those hopes were dashed.”
Many are furious that barriers to accessing basic documentation, including birth certificates, are placed in their way by the State, she said.“This circling of the wagons only adds to their trauma and exacerbates the failures of the State.”
Solidarity-People Before Profit Bríd Smith said the report should be withdrawn or else rejected “in its entirety”.
Social Democrats spokeswoman Jennifer Whitmore TD said mother and baby homes were not places of refuge as sometimes portrayed in the report’s pages.
And People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett told the Taoiseach that some of his remarks on the issue “seem to diminish the culpability of the institutions of Church and State”.
It came on a day when the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam asked for forgiveness for the Church’s “abject failure” to prevent the pain and suffering visited on women and their children in mother and baby homes.
Archbishop Michael Neary warned that the “disparity” which continues to exist between the Register of Deaths in Tuam and the absence of burial location records was a “matter of great public concern” and “a critical aspect of this sad story which remains unreconciled”.
Dr Neary also paid tribute to the investigative work of Catherine Corless which he said had “afforded dignity, justice and truth to the deceased and their families”.
The religious order who ran the notorious Tuam home from 1925 to 1961 meanwhile pledged to participate in a redress scheme for those who spent time at the Co Galway institution.
In a statement, the Bon Secours Sisters said the Commission’s report presents, “a history of our country in which many women and children were rejected, silenced and excluded; in which they were subjected to hardship; and in which their inherent human dignity was disrespected, in life and in death. Our Sisters of Bon Secours were part of this sorrowful history”.
Sr Eileen O’Connor said: “We did not live up to our Christianity when running the Home. We failed to respect the inherent dignity of the women and children who came to the Home. We failed to offer them the compassion that they so badly needed.”
Source: Irish News