THE Minister for Children has said he believes the Mother and Baby Homes Report shows that women were forced to accept adoption for their children.
Speaking to Newstalk’s On the Record yesterday, Roderic O’Gorman said many survivors were “abandoned by their families” and pressurised by “local authority figures like clergy or doctors”.
“From my own reading of the report,” he told presenter Gavin Reilly, “I think it is very clear that women were left with absolutely no choice because of the circumstances in which they were in.”
The minister said the Commission of Investigation, in his view, “took a very legalistic approach to that issue of consent” and had found that consent was not compelled.
In its findings, the Commission, led by Judge Yvonne Murphy, said it found little evidence to suggest babies were taken from their mothers forcibly and it objected to the use of the term ‘forced adoption’.
However, Mr O’Gorman said the fact that the State had no financial supports for unmarried mothers prior to 1973 “left them in situations where they felt they had absolutely no choice but to accede to an adoption”, as shown by the personal testimonies of women in the report.
Meanwhile, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland said he expected the religious congregations who were involved in running mother and baby homes to contribute to the redress scheme.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s This Week programme, Archbishop Eamon Martin said: “I think we can show that our apologies are sincere by being willing to contribute in any way that we can.” He said he believed the religious sisters were open to this.
However, he said he would be “disappointed” if having read the Commission’s report that the religious congregations were scapegoated.
“They were commissioned by the State and by local authorities and county councils. They were expected to intervene when the rest of society had basically banished these mothers and their unborn children and their infants.”
Separately, the incoming Archbishop of Dublin has said the church had a responsibility to instil the values of compassion and care in the prevailing attitudes of wider society but in so many instances failed to do so. Speaking in St Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, Archbishop-elect Dermot Farrell said the report showed that mother and baby homes provided a harsh refuge when few families were willing to provide any refuge.
He acknowledged that the behaviour of some religious orders who operated these institutions was “wrong, and a shameful betrayal of trust”.
“As a society and a church, we lost sight of the gift that is every child,” he added.
Source: Irish News