World news – Live: Taoiseach Micheal Martin apologizes to victims of maternity and baby homes

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Eoghan Moloney and Senan Molony

Maternal, baby and county home survivors are impeccable and have done nothing wrong, the Taoiseach told the Dáil in a formal state apology.

Mothers « have nothing wrong made and needn’t be ashamed, « Martin told TDs at the National Convention Center.

The treatment of women and children was something that was directly related to how the state » and we acted as a society, « he said .

“The report asks us profound questions. We advocated perverse religious morality and control, judgment and moral certainty, but avoided our daughters.

« We honored piety, but did not even show basic kindness to those who needed it most.

 » We had a completely distorted attitude towards sexuality and intimacy, and young mothers and their sons and daughters had to pay a terrible price for this dysfunction.

« To face the dark and shameful reality described in this report, you have to we recognize them as part of our national history.  » he told MPs.

« And for the women and children who have been treated so cruelly, we must do what we can to show our deep remorse, understanding and support. »

Then explained he: « On behalf of the government, the state and its citizens, I apologize for the serious generational mistake made by Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a mother-and-child or county home.

 » Me I apologize for the shame and stigma they were exposed to and which remain a burden for some to this day.

« With my apologies, I would like to emphasize that each of you has been in an institution because of the injustice of others. Each of you are impeccable, each of you did nothing wrong and need not be ashamed.

The lack of respect for the basic dignity and rights of mothers and children who have spent time in these facilities is humbly recognized and deeply regretted, he said.

The Irish State, as the main funding agency for the majority of these institutions, has the ultimate ability to exercise control over these institutions, in addition to its due diligence to protect citizens with a solid system of regulation and inspection, added Martin.

« This detailed and extremely painful report is a moment for us as a society to see a profound failure of empathy, understanding and fundamental humanity over a very long period of time. »

The report gave the survivors what they were denied for so long: their voice, their individuality, their right to recognition, he said and others nd recognized the « steadfast determination » of the former residents, researchers and activists.

« In this report, former residents speak of a sense of shame for the situation they found themselves in, » noted Martin.

 » It was our shame that we did not show them the respect and compassion we as a country owe them. It remains our shame.

« I want to assure the survivors, their families, and the country that this government is determined to follow all recommendations in the report and make the necessary legislative changes to at least heal the wounds that remain . « 

He said Catherine Corless was instrumental » whose work at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home site led directly to the establishment of the commission « . the community and the state should have provided support and protection for the mothers, said the Taoiseach, but that was not the case.

« The most striking thing is the shame felt by women who became pregnant out of wedlock, and that Stigma that was so cruelly attached to their children.

« There is talk of not being allowed to return to school after pregnancy because that would put school to shame. »

« I was made by my family ie treated like a second class citizen. Society was obsessed with hiding everything. « 

 » Nobody will want you now, « said the mother of a 14-year-old witness when it was discovered that she was pregnant.

 » Put her away! « were the words of a father of a 19-year-old when she found out that she was pregnant.

Due to the lack of sex education, young women were often confused and unsure how and why they got pregnant in the first place. Mr. Martin added: « Some of these pregnancies were due to rape and / or incest.

 » Children born out of wedlock have been stigmatized and treated as outcasts in school and society.

« Some children who Later on boarded, they experienced heartbreaking exploitation, neglect and abuse in the families and communities they were housed in. It was unforgivable. « 

The sense of abandonment that many of these children feel is in de n testimonies felt, he added, and it has become a terrible burden on their lives.

« Many women, children and fathers have left these shores to escape this unfair judgment and lifelong prejudice, and because they thought this was the only way to protect their families’ reputations.

« Many have not overcome the impact of these formative experiences on their lives and have suffered and struggled with serious personal problems. »

The report did Made previously unknown information publicly available and brought the truth to light, he said. It exposed « significant failures of the state, churches and society ».

The Taoiseach said that women were admitted to maternity and baby homes and county homes because support was not coming from any other neighborhood.

 » They had to get out of the house and find a place to stay without having to pay. Many were destitute.

« Women who feared the consequences of their pregnancy, which their families and neighbors would discover, entered maternity and baby homes to protect their secret.

 » The pressure, this one Keeping a secret added insult to injury and was a large part of the mother’s trauma. « 

But many women suffered emotional abuse in the home as well. “They were often subjected to denigration and derogatory remarks from religious, with little kindness shown, especially at birth.” “One of the most troubling features of the report is that, until 1960, maternal and baby homes appeared to have significant chances of survival for children have decreased.

“The infant mortality rate in maternity and baby homes was almost twice the national average for children born out of wedlock. A total of around 9,000 children died in the facilities examined – around 15% of all children in their care. « 

It is » deeply worrying « to note that the very high death rates were known to local and national authorities at the time and were recorded in official publications, he said – with little or no evidence of government intervention in response “Those terrifying statistics. « 

Mr Martin said he knew it was a disappointment that the report did not answer all questions about the burial of children who died in these facilities as many places remain unknown.

 » Overall comes the Commission concluded that Ireland was a cold and harsh environment for the majority of its residents during the first half of the study period.

“It was especially cold and harsh for women. All women were severely discriminated against. Women who gave birth out of wedlock were treated particularly harshly. « 

The Taoiseach admitted, » An apology alone is not enough. We are judged together in this house for our actions. Actions always say louder than words. “

And he promised: » The government accepts and will respond to all recommendations of the commission. « 

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