Ireland: 9,000 children deaths in church-run homes, report finds
Jan 13 2021
The report, which covered 18 so-called Mother and Baby Homes where young pregnant women were hidden from society for decades, is the latest in a series of government-commissioned papers that have laid bare some of the Catholic Church's darkest chapters.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has apologised after an investigation found an "appalling level of infant mortality" in the Republic's mother-and-baby homes.
"By the 1960s most women placed their child for adoption and left a mother and baby home within a few months of giving birth", it said.
It looked at 14 mother-and-baby homes and four county homes between the years 1922 and 1998, according to Irish broadcaster RTE. Prime Minister Micheal Martin is expected to apologize on behalf of the Irish state later in the week.
"One harsh truth in all of this is that all of society was complicit in it", he said.
Its report stated that while mother-and-baby homes existed in other countries the proportion of unmarried mothers who were in the institutions in Ireland was probably the highest in the world.
"We must also continue to ask ourselves where people today might feel similarly rejected, abandoned, forgotten or pushed to the margins".
While the report failed to find evidence that women were forcibly incarcerated in mother-and-baby homes, the investigation found that "most women had no alternative".
Government records show that the mortality rate for children at the homes - which housed rape victims and mothers as young as 12 - were more than five times that of those born to married parents.
The Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman said the Mother and Baby Homes report has exposed "a stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture" in Ireland. "Young mothers and their sons and daughters paid a awful price for that dysfunction".
Relatives have alleged the babies were mistreated because they were born to unmarried mothers who, like their children, were seen as a stain on Ireland's image as a devout Catholic nation.
The inquiry was launched after the remains of almost 800 children were found buried in an unofficial graveyard in the grounds of the St Mary's mother and baby home in Tuam in County Galway in 2014.
The commission has made 53 recommendations, including compensation and memorialisation.
In an interim report, the commission found that some babies were buried in 20 chambers inside what was a larger decommissioned sewage tank.
A former resident of one of the homes spoke with NBC News and said she was used as a "guinea pig" for vaccines at a home in Cork, before being adopted by a family in Philadelphia in 1961.
The commission said the women's lives "were blighted by pregnancy outside marriage, and the responses of the father of their child, their immediate families and the wider community".
It also said it would work with survivors and representative groups to oversee a national memorial, changes to Ireland's education curriculum and provide counseling support.