Taoiseach to give State apology over mother-and-baby homes

Wednesday, January 13

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is to apologise on behalf of the State later in Dáil later today after an investigation found an "appalling level of infant mortality" in the country's mother-and-baby homes.

Established in the 19th and 20th Centuries, the institutions housed women and girls who became pregnant outside marriage.

About 9,000 children died in the 18 institutions under investigation.

The government said the report revealed the country had a "stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture".

The commission that investigated the homes found that the number of children who died was about 15% of all those who were born in the institutions.

There were about 56,000 unmarried mothers and 57,000 children in the homes investigated by the commission.

The greatest number of admissions was in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Many children born in the homes were adopted or taken to orphanages run by Catholic nuns.

The report said "the women and children should not have been in the institutions" and that many women suffered emotional abuse.

The investigators said it appeared there was "little kindness" shown to the mothers and "this was particularly the case" during childbirth, which many of the women found to be "a traumatic experience".

Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman said the report showed that for decades a "pervasive stigmatisation of unmarried mothers and their children robbed those individuals of their agency and sometimes their future".

The commission has made 53 recommendations, including compensation and memorialisation.

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.

The commission said it found "very little evidence that children were forcibly taken from their mothers".

It continued: "It accepts that the mothers did not have much choice but that is not the same as 'forced' adoption'."

The report contains witness testimony from women who said they had not consented to their child being adopted.