Taoiseach's apology for 'profound generational wrong' of mother and baby homes

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin has issued a State apology for the treatment of women in mother and baby homes, calling it a “profound generational wrong”.

Mr Martin was speaking in the Dail this afternoon following the release of the report from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which found that 9,000 babies died in 18 homes between 1922 and 1998 while tens of thousands of mothers were enslaved.

He said: “One of the clearest messages of the testimonies in this report is how this treatment of women and children is something which was the direct result of how the State. And we as a society, acted.

“The report presents us with profound questions. We embraced a perverse religious morality and control, judgementalism and moral certainty but shunned or daughters.

“We honoured piety but failed to show even basic kindness to those who needed most.

“We had a completely warped attitude to sexuality and intimacy and young mothers and their sons and daughters were forced to pay a terrible price for that dysfunction.

“To confront the dark and shameful reality, which is detailed in this report, we must acknowledge it as a part of our national history.

“And for the women and children who were treated so cruelly, we must do what we can to shore deep remorse, understanding and support.

“And so on behalf of the government, the state and its citizens, I apologise for the profound generational run visited upon Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a mother and baby home, or a country home.

“As the Commission says plainly, they should not have been there. I apologise for the shame and stigma which they were subjected to, and which for some remains a burden to this day.

“In apologising, I want to emphasise that each of you were in an institution because of the wrongs of others.

“Each of you is blameless. Each of you did nothing wrong and has nothing to be ashamed of.

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“Each of you deserved so much better. The lack of respect for your fundamental dignity and rights as mothers and children who spent time in these institutions, is humbly acknowledged and deeply, deeply regretted.

“The Irish State, as the main funding authority for the majority of these institutions, had the ultimate ability to exert control over these institutions.

“In addition to its duty of care to protect citizens with a robust, regulatory, and inspection raising.

“This authority was not exerted, and the state’s duty of care was not upheld. The state failed you, the mothers and children in these homes.”

Source: Dublin News