Thursday, 25 November 2021
Mother and Baby Institutions: Statements
I acknowledge the dreadful experience of the survivors and extend my sympathies to them. I thank them for the messages they sent to all of us over the past several months and years.
The response of the State to those who suffered such immense brutality at the hands of the church has been nothing short of a national disgrace. Sadly, this seems to be the way that successive Governments have treated survivors. Earlier today, members of the Irish Thalidomide Association were outside the gates of Leinster House marking 60 years since the international withdrawal of thalidomide. The Government continues to fight thalidomide survivors in the courts and denies them the justice they deserve. Thalidomide survivors are another group abandoned by successive Governments in their pursuit of justice, but they fight on seeking the apology, justice and fairness they deserve from the State.
The horrific details of the abuses carried out by the church on behalf of the State within the mother and baby homes seem to know no limit or end. They relate to a truly horrific, dark and shameful part of Ireland’s history. However, to thousands upon thousands of people across this State and further afield, it is far from history. They continue to live with the pain and suffering they experienced in the institutions. They live with the pain of not knowing and wondering what happened to their loved ones who were so cruelly ripped from their arms. The constant delays and barriers in the way of the survivors must be removed. The State should be providing the survivors of mother and baby homes and their families with every resource possible for them to get the justice they deserve.
It is shameful that the Government’s proposals are excluding the children who were boarded out. In so many cases, these children were treated like slaves, and so many experienced sexual abuse. The creation of a hierarchy of abuse by the State scheme is wrong. It adds to the suffering of those who have suffered enough. Excluding children who were boarded out and children who spent less than six months in the appalling institutions is simply the Government telling these survivors that their abuse and suffering just do not count. I strongly urge the Minister to include those who were in homes for less than six months. Their treatment is just compounding the injustice and unfairness.
I acknowledge that the Minister did go further than the commission, which must be welcomed. I, like others, seek an interim payment for older survivors. I cannot see why this cannot be made. I urge the Minister to fast-track it.