'Those babies will never rest in those septic tanks, we need to be their voice' – protest held as Mother and Baby Homes Bill signed into law

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Dozens of protesters have said that it is not up to survivors of mother and baby homes to challenge a new controversial bill after President Michael D Higgins signed it into law.

he Mother and Baby Homes Bill was signed into law on Sunday despite protests and controversy, with survivors claiming that it will seal an archive for 30 years.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman has maintained that this will not be the case and in an unprecedented move, Mr Higgins issued a statement after signing the Bill into law saying that it could be challenged in the courts.

However, at a demonstration outside the gates of Áras an Uachtarain today, protesters said that it should not be up to “survivors and sufferers” to challenge the Bill.

“It’s absolutely not up to us to go to the courts,” said Majella Connolly, who was born in St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on the Navan Road.

“I want government to listen to people like myself for them to understand how this is so important to us how it’s important that I cannot have legally a birth certificate,” she said.

“I have an adoption cert, like my little rescue dog, he’s got an adoption cert.

“It’s very personal but it’s been a fight in me my whole life trying to find out who I am.”

Having been taken from her mother at six weeks old, Ms Connolly tracked down her mother several years ago but she was “not in a position” to meet her daughter.

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Protesters outside Áras an Uachtarain, Dublin, after President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday October 26, 2020. (James Ward/PA Wire)

Protesters outside Áras an Uachtarain, Dublin, after President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday October 26, 2020. (James Ward/PA Wire)

Protesters outside Áras an Uachtarain, Dublin, after President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday October 26, 2020. (James Ward/PA Wire)

PA

Protesters outside Áras an Uachtarain, Dublin, after President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday October 26, 2020. (James Ward/PA Wire)

She has no idea who her father is, and if the archives would reveal his identity.

“I have no access to that information, it’s very important for the archives to be unsealed so I can find out who I am. I am the survivor of an acquired brain injury I was asked in Beaumont Hospital: ‘Could this be hereditary?’

“I have to say, ‘I don’t know, I’m adopted’.”

Sisters Elaine Fitzgerald and Rachel Redmond said that they were angry when news broke that the bill had been signed by the President.

“Initially, I was angry. Rachel highlighted to me that because he’s signed it can be challenged by ordinary people. But the ordinary people shouldn’t have to,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

“Absolutely, I didn’t want him to sign it. But I think it’s time to let those who have passed rest. Those babies are never going to rest in those septic tanks so I think we need to be the voice for them and their mothers,” added Ms Redmond.

The protest was organised by ex-TD Ruth Coppinger, who admitted that there is a lot of confusion about the bill and if it will seal the archives.

“It is really confusing. My bottom line on this is why didn’t the government consult with the organisations, with the adoptees, first? Why did they just plough through with this?

“And then it became obvious during the course of the debate that the opposition was raising amendments that could have resolved what the government said they were trying to resolve, they just carried on regardless.

“That’s what’s arousing a lot of suspicion,” she added.

She said that the President could address the nation or the Oireachtas.

“Personally, I feel like there’s more he could still do. He could address the Oireachtas, he could address the nation, there’s still other things.”

Her sentiment was echoed by local resident and activist Karen Dempsey, who said that President Higgins was “damned if he did and damned if he didn’t” when it came to signing the Bill.

“I think he really needs to make a strong statement about this.

“I think okay, maybe his hands are tied and I’m sure he had a lot of advice on whatever angle he took but the onus should not be on sufferers and survivors again to try and fight this again. It’s going to cost huge money.”

A spokesman for President Higgins told Independent.ie: “In his statement the President said that there were important concerns that were raised and must be addressed.

“This is a matter for Government.”

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Source: Irish News