European & International News

Ireland: The Shame and the Pain – the failure of the State in its duty of care

[Brussels, 18 September 2014]
On Tuesday the 9 September, an emotional and deeply disturbing public hearing was held in the European Parliament with a delegation of Irish women who experienced institutional abuse in “Mother and Baby” homes, throughout Ireland (north and south) by state-funded institutions run by religious orders.

The Public Hearing organised by MEP Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL), heard survivors tell their painful stories of being forced to give their children for adoption at a time of significant social stigma for bearing a child outside marriage. Illegal adoption practices, forced separation of mothers from their babies, vaccine trials on children and forced labour in terrible conditions are some of the human rights abuses which took place in these homes.

The discovery earlier this year of the remains of 800 babies and children in an unmarked grave in Tuam, County Galway has once again brought to light the institutional abuse and the failure of the State in its duty of care.

The individual testimonies have created a strong collective voice as the delegation calls for immediate action to obtain effective justice from the Irish government. This is echoed and supported by the EWL Irish member National Women’s Council of Ireland ( calling for a fully independent judicial inquiry into the care system in mother and baby homes, the extremely high infant mortality rates and the burial of children in unmarked graves.

While only half of the women have received compensation, others are still struggling to have access to their files, the right to know their past and their family histories. Not all files have been accurately recorded, nor systematically scanned as paper versions were said to be stored in warehouses throughout the country.

It is crucial that a full investigation establishes all the facts and that an adequate redress system is put in place, so that women and children in Ireland or elsewhere are never treated in this way again.

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