Irish PM to apologise for massive abuse at mother and baby homes

After a long-awaited report laid bare the harm done by Ireland’s homes for unmarried women and their babies, Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin is set to issue an apology to survivors.

The 3,000-page report found that 9,000 children died in 18 different mother and baby homes during the 20th century.

Fifteen per cent of all children born in the homes died, almost double the nationwide infant mortality rate.

Martin said the investigation laid bare “a deeply misogynistic culture” that meant thousands died prematurely or were faced with trauma for the rest of their lives.

Church-run homes in Ireland housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women and their babies for most of the 20th century.

“We did this to ourselves,” the Irish leader added. “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. We embraced a perverse religious morality and control which was so damaging … All of society was complicit in it.”

Martin is set to formally apologise for the Irish state in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann, on Wednesday. afternoon.

He also called on leaders of the Catholic church in the country to do the same on behalf of the diocese, which he said “behaved so badly”.

“You don’t have Christianity in evidence here. The role of the state is complicit. It’s neglectful,” Martin added of the findings in the report.

Church-run homes in Ireland housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women and their babies for most of the 20th century.

The institutions have been subject to intense public scrutiny since 2014 when historian Catherine Corless, who the Taoiseach labelled “a tireless crusader for dignity and truth”, tracked down death certificates for nearly 800 children who died at the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway in western Ireland — but could only find a burial record for one child.

Investigators later found a mass grave containing remains of babies and young children in an underground sewage structure on the grounds of the home, which was run by an order of Catholic nuns and closed in 1961.

Women were often sent to the homes out of shame; as the report finds being an unmarried mother would eliminate prospects of marriage for any woman. Some pregnancies were a result of rape; some women had mental health problems, some had learning difficulties. And their lives were blighted by pregnancy outside marriage.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters was established by Government in 2015 to account for what happened to women and children in these homes during the period 1922 to 1998.

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