Dáil debates

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Mother and Baby Institutions: Statements


5:50 pm

Photo of Gino KennyGino Kenny (Dublin Mid West, People Before Profit Alliance) | Oireachtas source

There are many things we cannot change in the past even though we would want to. The past is the past and the present is the present. For survivors of mother and baby institutions it was a deeply painful past. Mother and baby homes were institutions of the State and the Catholic Church. They were for "fallen women" to be banished and punished for the crime of having children out of wedlock. I will get to my own personal experience of that. There are many flaws in the scheme, particularly around the arbitrary condition of time spent in these institutions. I do not really understand why somebody who had spent less than six months in one does not have any kind of compensation or redress. It is an insult. I am not blaming the Minster personally. He is not to blame for the crimes of the past but he can address the future.

My mother gave evidence in the commission of investigation. She spent a period of time in one of the institutions. It was extremely traumatic for my mother and my sister, who I met eventually. My mother's account was quite harrowing. Her baby daughter was taken away from her and she was not to see her daughter for 30-odd years. I will always remember to the day I die when my mother found out she was going to meet her daughter again. I will never forget it. She was crying and joyous in one sense that eventually the daughter who was taken away from her, she was going to meet again. It was a very painful time in all our lives. In some way there was the juxtaposition of that with also meeting a person who my mother thought was gone; we met her again. There is a lot to be said about what has happened. There is so much pain out there. In some ways the scheme can redress some of the financial compensation for those women who went through this pretty horrible process. Hopefully the women who went through those institutions will have some sort of sense in their own minds that they are recognised by the State. Terrible wrongs were done - terrible wrongs that in some ways cannot be reversed - but at least the State has said they were terrible wrongs and that it will try to make it right.


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