Seanad debates

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Address to Seanad Éireann by Ms Catherine McGuinness


1:10 pm

Photo of James HeffernanJames Heffernan (Labour) | Oireachtas source

It is very nice to meet you, Catherine.

I thank our guest and Senator Jillian van Turnhout for reminding me that politics is not completely futile and that there is light at the end of the tunnel in some cases.

I agree with Ms McGuinness 100% that it was not the nuns who sent girls with crisis pregnancies to the mother and baby homes but their parents and grandparents. However, it would not be right of me not to give credit to those who did not send girls away but who brought up their grandchildren as their own. I was reminded of this at a funeral I attended recently. A man who worked with us at home for many years, including with my grandmother, carried the stigma of illegitimacy like a chain around his neck and struggled to deal with it.

I will be bold and ask Ms McGuinness whether she could lend support to the provision of a memorial to the victims of institutional abuse. There are more than 130 such institutions around the country and I am not including asylums, the Magdalen laundries or mother and baby homes. We have nothing to remind us of their existence or that this abuse of children took place. It is incumbent on the Government and various Departments, be it the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport or the Department of Education and Skills, to provide money. If €30 million can be granted to redevelop Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, surely we can provide a couple of million euro for the provision of a proper memorial.


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