Irelands mother and baby homes, 800 dead babies, and us

The people of Tuam and all of the towns in Ireland where there were Magdalene laundries and mother & baby homes, knew about them.

They loomed large, hidden in plain sight.

A deliberate unspoken threat. The consequence if you didn’t behave as expected. Ireland had a complete system and architecture of containment to deal with transgressors. The biggest sin, or perhaps it might be more accurate to think of it as a crime, was illegitimacy.

In forging a new identity for itself post revolution Ireland heavily promoted and insisted on religious purity, specifically the purity of Irish women. Dancing and dances were forbidden at the heights of the moral fervour. The worst thing an unmarried woman or girl could do, was to become pregnant, even through abuse, rape and no fault of her own. No matter if she was completely unaware of what was happening to her, as was very common and easy to imagine considering the total lack of any biological and reproductive education at school or at home, it would have been unthinkable and completely forbidden in any terms. The mothers, and their babies,  the product of such a terrible sin were viewed with dismay and disdain. Pity and compassion were luxuries not afforded to them.

This is where the saying “I’ll beat the devil out of you” comes from. For home children it was not a figure of speech.

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The home in Tuam has been painstakingly researched by local historian Catherine Corless. Speaking at the Irish centre for human rights in Ireland, Galway, 10 November at a talk entitled “Investigating the Tuam mothers and babies home A question of Human Rights” according to an account here http://www.politicalworld.org/showthread.php?16027-800-babies-buried-in-unmarked-quot-water-tank-site-quot-at-Tuam-by-Bon-Secours-Nuns-1925-61&p=409481#post409481 Catherine Corless spoke of how initially she had intended to write an essay of the homes history but upon discovering the burials, that had to change. When she first approached the Bon Secours order she was immediately told they did not have records of any burials. After another push, she was told they had all been handed over to the health boards who then told her they were with the county registrar. It wasn’t lost on her the office she then had to visit is on the site of the old home in Galway. Anyone who has ever tried to trace adoption files in Ireland will be familiar with such nausiating and frustrating merry-go-rounds.

http://connachttribune.ie/campaign-recognise-800-dead-tuam-babies/ from Feb 2014

This is the earliest report I have seen on Catherine Corless’ findings in Tuam, perhaps not much attention was paid to it back in Feb, as it was June when the events began to gather pace and we saw the media frenzy.

“I was talking to people in the vicinity and someone said there’s a lisheen or plot for unbaptised babies across the road. I got a little hint it was something more than that so I went digging further,” reveals Catherine.

They would have their babies without pain relief, would be offered no stitches following the birth and were expected to work for a year in exchange for their confinement – all in the belief they must pay for their sins, according to Catherine.

“I got a day-to-day account of what life was like in the home from one lady who left there in 1956. When she first got there her job was to clean up after the one to three-year-olds who didn’t wear nappies and had constant green diarrhoea due to the bad diet. She said life was very harsh and the nuns were awfully strict.”

“They were segregated and put to one side of the classroom. They were called the ‘home babies’ and we were told not to mind them. They came in ten minutes after us and left ten minutes earlier and we weren’t allowed to mix. People in the town remember the sound of the children marching down, they used to wear clogs in the winter and there would be a line of them with a minder in the front and back with a big stick.”

“I thought why would there be a crypt in the middle of nowhere. I went looking at old maps and found there was a septic tank marked on a 1891 map belonging to the home. The tank became defunct in 1938 when a new drainage scheme came into Tuam.

“It appears they made a crypt out of the old septic tank. I’d hope they’d have at least cleaned it out. It’s not nice to think about it.”

I think Catherine Corless has always made her findings and opinion clear.

Alison O Reilly addressed the issue in the Irish mail in June (the first report in the media storm to follow) and at this time the events also began to get international interest on Twitter -we wouldn’t stop tweeting about it. Here ensued some lazy journalism and minor misreporting based solely on tweets. Shocking headlines soon went international, and along came a backlash from deniers and apologists.

Some sought to undermine Catherine corless’ work which also involved her personally obtaining and paying for the death certificates of 796 babies. They repeated and embellished a misqoute to say Catherine corless had made mistakes and retractions. Of course more deniers and apologists referenced and widely repeated these with an unhidden amount of glee.

It was not true.

http://kettleontherange.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/an-international-publicity-frenzy-and-my-mother/ Adrienne Corless writes about her mother on her blog and states that no retractions were made.

Some sought to diminish and scorn those who were angry about it. Including Spikedonline, quickly losing any remit to pretend they had any understanding of it. It can be hard for survivors, and relatives searching for their loved ones -dealing with the endless escapades and misinformation from church run agencies and the state as it is -to then begin to be brave enough to stick their heads out in a media storm such as this. Many of the attacks were mean spirited, underhand, incredibly unchristian-like considering so many were from christians, and lacking in compassion in the extreme. Often all coming at once on an article or blog that had yet to recieve any attention. The aim was clear. It was being done to dishearten would be writers, and put people off from commenting and getting involved. Nonetheless a great many did.

http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/06/24/are-you-in-london/ a link to a post somebody had made to share our London vigil. If you read the comments you will see an example of this ‘trolling’ (apart from the one post with a bit of sense demonstrating a working brain cell) This is really nothing compared to the lengthy 20 + page arguments and ‘battles’ that took place on a great deal of reports and articles on the subject, but it leads me to the next development.

There were 2 vigils held for the Tuam babies in Ireland, some smaller more private ones at many of the other mother and baby homes, and one in London. As I am in the UK I felt particularly relieved to be able to attend and share my mothers experience.

We contacted The Guardian, The Irish post and  the Irish times came too. Tanya Gold did us proud in her piece in The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/05/horror-tuam-missing-babies-not-diminished where she mentioned the vigil, but went further than we had hoped or expected to address and contextualise the misreporting backlash and the criticism perfectly. The horse has bolted “apologists miss the point it doesnt matter now” I cant deny I clapped and cheered when reading this.

It was a very therapeutic, healing and empowering experience to stand on the steps of the Irish Embassy surrounded by survivors like my mother and their relatives like me. I had never met anybody with firsthand experience of the homes before except my own mother. To raise my voice over traffic to demand justice for her strengthened my purpose. I had never really spoken about it much as people just didn’t understand in the UK. So quite literally shouting about in the street really was a life changing moment.

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Mary Collins’ mother is buried in Magdalene laundry mass grave. she is fighting and campaigning to be able to bury her own mother, in a more respectful way

My mother suffers very badly with her health, perhaps in part due to a very poor diet in her infancy spent in Castle pollard mother and baby home, which we believe lead to early onset osteoperosis. She has also recently recovered from breast cancer something we never knew was genetic until a DNA test was completed. She is unable to travel and feels too fragile to speak about it in public, though she is very happy for me to do so for her. She survived an abusive adoption, a violent marriage, and suicide attempts (from as young as 9 yrs old) to mean we spent all our lives as a tightly knit unit; just me, my mum and my brother, no extended family to speak of whatsoever, no family support.

As campaingers I think we often find a sense of family in each other. We are very aware that our mothers our sisters, our brothers, us, those who survived could be now laying in an ‘unrecorded’ or more truthfully, unacknowledged mass grave. Gravesites were recorded and known about, there are several pieces of information in the public domain now which prove Tuam was known about at least since the 70s. (More on that later when it came to light). Tuam is not the only one.

I spoke with a lady at the London vigil we held who has a son buried in a mass grave at Bessborough mother and baby home. Every night she thinks of him and in the early hours I often see a little tribute she has posted on facebook to remember him. She wore a ‘disguise’ to the vigil and did not wish to be identified as her family in Ireland to this day do not know about the baby. I am truly honoured that she shared with me her memories of her baby boy. She told me how perfect he was and how much she loved him. She shared with me how when he died they had told her it was from congenital defects, and that there had been an autopsy which had confirmed he died of septicemia. Something she had very nearly died from herself shortly after giving birth in the home. The cause was a dirty syringe, she looked troubled as she explained to me that she did not remember a needle or any medical treatment whatsoever.

Congential abnormalities was often recorded by nuns as a reason for the death of illegitimate babies. They believed them to be sub-human.

As survivors, relatives and people disturbed by the events, and then again by the reaction, we began to speak out to throw a bigger light publicly on the facts, to add our voices and lend our support to what had already been told truthfully and plainly.

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Liam hogan did important and painstaking work in gathering together a history and presesenting a timeline of Tuam and the mother and baby homes in newspaper clippings in his storify’s which are very valuable resources (I used them in a washing line protest left outside the Irish embassy)

https://storify.com/Limerick1914/children-s-home-in-tuam-1920s-1960s

https://storify.com/Limerick1914/ireland-s-attitude-to-unmarried-mothers

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The apologists and deniers also attacked the idea of a septic tank. ‘It doesn’t sound like a septic tank, it isn’t round, it doesnt have a tunnel leading to it’

Izzy kamikaze did important work in this blog post http://izzykamikaze.tumblr.com/post/89770303451/vaults-under-tuambabies-site-are-part-of-sewage-system to explain why there have been numerous discoveries and why some of them may have been described as ‘chamber like’. They are the sewage tanks of the old workhouse. It is quite likely to be repeated in other locations where the underground sewerage systems are.

Alison O Reilly went on to focus on justice for Bridget Dolan, a Tuam inmate who was forced to endure two internments there and the loss of two of her babies; John Desmond who died there and William Joseph who’s location is unknown. Their sister is demanding justice for them and their mother and searching avidly for them. Alison O reilly has followed this to an appeal against the AG decision not to exhume and we watch with interest to see wether compassion for Bridget and her family can ever be found by the people who saw fit to punish them and profit from their misfortune.

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Bridget Dolan

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The babies were not afforded a christian burial, but the site was not a lisheen for unbaptised babies. The babies were baptised. Their burials were not noted or recorded (in all but 2 cases of the 796) and coffins do not appear to have been used in what little has been seen so far, despite that a contract was in place for them (at least in 1932) as noted in Liam Hogans storify. He has newspaper evidence of contracts in place at Tuam up the 1950’s

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The causes of death for the 79% mortality rate (take a minute to process that 79% ..) being largely curable disease, starvation or neglect. There was a problem with the water supply that went unattended (evidenced in newspaper clippings in Liam Hogan’s storify) and Catherine Corless told us above of survivor testimony in the first ever report that the babies did not wear nappies. The nuns did not live with mothers and babies in the home but in ‘the grove’ and of course are not buried in any septic/sewerage tank. They were paid by the state for each mother and each child and they profited from adopting babies to America and from contracts taken out with the work of those doing penance. Much as in every other mother and baby home it didn’t come down to lack of money but saving money and making money.

People who had watched the film Philomena the year before suddenly had a bit more understanding of what this ‘adoption’ was all about. We could talk about it more generally with other members of the public and they got it. That was quite new and a relief for me personally. My own grandmother was called Philomena I cried at every trailer because for my family this was deep-seated, I briefly mentioned above about why we are so close. I told you my mother was in Castle Pollard mother and baby home. We had no other loving family member, it was just me her and my brother. It wasn’t meant to be that way.

My mother was transferred to the Temple Hill nursery under the ‘care’ of the St Patrick’s guild whilst her mother was still detained in Castle Pollard. This should tell you the nature of her stay. She had to wait until her two years were up and wasn’t getting out earlier.

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Transfer to Temple hill under the care of St Patrick’s guild 15/3/56 NOTE: ADOPTED ‘UNOFFICIALLY’ Mothers signature is so far not any document we have been given access to

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They were never to see each other again.

My mother has been writing to the St Patrick’s guild, and the adoption authority of Ireland (as it was then) even now still the St Patrick’s guild and the HSE for almost 40 years to attempt to gain a full picture.

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In 1996 the nuns at the guild decided to call her in for a meeting to tell her that her mother had died. In May 1988. I will never forget being told I could not be present with her and the heartless way my mother described being informed. I will remind you that they are still paid for by the state today as social workers to conduct traces and searches. They have only just in recent weeks announced their intention to let go of their files and despite asking repeatedly and documenting our concerns with the HSE we have not been told where they are going to.

When we traced her family we found mum had 2 half brothers and a half-sister; the eldest, who knew about mum. She gave mum a necklace that her mother had worn all her life a religious medal, and described how she had asked for my mum when she was dying. She also gave us this photo which had been kept for mum.

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Philomena my grandmother and baby Maria her daughter (my mum)

Those more familiar with the homes will know how strange a photo this is. Any photos taken in the homes were of children without their mothers, and staged in pristine nursery poses. They were brochure photos. Never ever would the nuns have taken this or allowed it. A camera in 1954 rural Ireland was a luxury, one not belonging to the mother superior in a strict regime as this? It is very hard to imagine. This photograph is a very dangerous and unusual secret that would have sent both parties to a Magdalene laundry for their breach of discipline if discovered. It was taken on the steps of castle pollard since visited and photographed again for my mum by other adoptee’s.

Mum’s birth certificate was given to her when she was called in to the guild in 1996 to inform her of her mothers passing. It says she was born in London. She was re-issued a copy from the registry office in London.

We have a letter from a parish priest in Hendon saying she was baptised there but he could not give us the certificate, we had to contact the catholic children’s society.

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The Catholic children’s society say they do not have a baptism certificate I will inform you here that they were formerly known as the crusade of rescue. http://www.cathchild.org.uk/our-services/history/ The catholic crusade of rescue was established to save catholic souls, those living in England particularly those born to unmarried mothers were seen to be at the greatest risk. The church and the state together imposed a very powerful stigma of shame that still exists is some Irish catholic communities in the UK, particularly the travelling one. Unmarried women, girls, and their children were particularly heavily stigmatised. The ladies I spoke to at our London vigil were sent back to Ireland from London by this agency and reacted visibly to just the name. This agency has been extremely unhelpful.

Something about that dizzying merry-go-round. For a 60 y old baptism certificate when the families are reunited and both birth and adopted parents are deceased? Go figure. I’m about tearing my hair out there and we have gotten no further than this.

40 years.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10932969/Convent-that-forced-young-mothers-to-give-up-their-babies.html

 Dr Rosemary Keenan (chief exec for Catholic children’s society, formerly the crusade of rescue) in the Telegraph dated 29th June stated they didn’t do anything wrong they were only helping and part of their service is to help people with traces. This letter was not very helpful Dr Rosemary.

We know forged birth certificates are nothing new to the sisters of the guild.

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We think we deserve the truth of their very short time together, even if the dangers of not knowing a medical history have sadly been played out already to our cost.

What does justice look like to my mum? The truth. The barefaced, honest, dirty, god awful truth so that she can treasure knowledge of the time she had with her mother. It is all she can have now.

The lid had been lifted on the mother and baby home scandal and the full horror could no longer be contained.

People for the first time that I was aware of in my life in the UK, had an idea of what we were talking about

Talk I did. Now I can’t stop.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2650475/More-mass-baby-graves-Ireland-Prime-Minister-Enda-Kenny-orders-investigation-memorial-800-dead-babies-planned.html

Vaccine trials were conducted without any mothers knowledge or consent.

A spokesman for GSK (formerly Wellcome) said ‘The activities that have been described to us date back over 70 years and, if true, are clearly very distressing. We would need further details to investigate what actually took place, but the practices outlined certainly don’t reflect how modern clinical trials are carried out. We conduct our trials to the same high scientific and ethical standards, no matter where in the world they are run.’

I know my mother has waited months now for a response to her own requests for information held with her name, as she needs to know what the several large penny shaped scars on her arms are about.

I also don’t recall mention of what the results of GSK investigation were. If one happened.

Hopes were made and demands voiced that a criminal investigation be conducted that include the vaccine trials, that include all of the homes, the nurseries, the mental hospitals, the laundries, that were used to hide away women who had not behaved as demanded. We we need justice for all of the women and their children who had lost all and every last one of their rights.

The spectacle at Tuam rumbled on and some work into what lay beneath the site began

(as if they didn’t know)

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source Alison o Reilly
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source: Alison O Reilly

Some of us began to harbour hopes that this unbelievable media storm, which we should remember unravelled in a mere 2 weeks, may lead to actual progress regarding adoption laws, though first we demand justice for the criminal acts committed. Those with memories of the Ryan report and other so-called investigations and reports hoped with us and lent us their voices. Despite being all to painfully familiar with how the ‘Irish constitution’ works.

The Irish state responded with the announcement of an inter-departmental group report..

http://www.dcya.gov.ie/documents/publications/20140716InterdepartReportMothBabyHomes.pdf

First we noticed with dismay the failure to acknowledge the criminal activity, and it quickly begins to read like they are going to do a social history project.

This is not good enough to provide terms of reference for an inquiry into what is still going wrong. It is far from historical to us, who are still having the pain etched over again and again by lies and merry go rounds.

We are still being punished for the crime of illegitimacy whilst their ongoing and continued actions are referenced and framed as ‘history’. They are paid for by the state (and taxpayers) as social workers helping in searches, whilst they keep records locked away and adults searching for each other apart.

This is painful. It is salt in the wounds.

The appointment of Judge Yvonne Murphy was announced to chair the commission of inquiry. We all emailed  our concerns, our experiences, our collective wealth of knowledge as organisations and individuals, to help guide what the terms of reference needed to be. Why they needed to include nurseries such as Temple hill where my mother was transferred to for adoption; many times agencies were organised as separate institutions but often ran cohesively together.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/terms-of-reference-for-inquiry-into-mother-and-baby-homes-wont-be-ready-until-autumn-childrens-minister-james-reilly-30437144.html

“My Department has also received submissions on the terms of reference for the Commission from over 120 groups and individuals. A number of meetings have been held with groups. Collectively these inputs and consultations will assist the Government in finalising proposals for the Commission’s establishment. I will update Dáil Éireann tomorrow (17th July). My predecessor and I have engaged with party spokespersons and I intend to continue this process in order to achieve as much consensus as possible.”

“On the return of the Dáil after the summer recess I intend tabling a draft order to establish the Commission under the Commission of Investigation Act, 2004 together with a statement providing an estimate of the costs to be incurred by the Commission in conducting the investigation and a time frame for its work.

“This is a complex task and it is very important it is completed to the highest standard.  As highlighted in the Report of the Inter-Departmental Group, past experience indicates that the establishment of a Commission of Investigation must be handled very carefully and precisely in order to ensure the Commission is set up on the most sound footing possible.”

kind of similar to the letter we were shown made to another TD but as you can see that sounds a bit less hopeful.

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Our facebook page and group became a campaign page for justice for the homes and we began lobbying TD’s and becoming active in a role of advocacy. Our admins are located in the UK, Ireland and America. Yet back in Tuam; on twitter, questions are being raised about why a memorial has not been placed over it and the whole thing forgotten about yet..

 At a craft group for our local Irish association I land in an unexpected conversation with an older Tuam native who is telling me that the nuns were just doing their best and that nobody gave them any help, that it is like ‘Philomena’ her dad kicked her out, if the nuns hadn’t taken her she’d have had nowhere to go, she was wagging her finger at me. I was stunned in all honesty. I was totally unprepared. I asked her why she thought they would keep two grown adults searching for each other apart if they only wanted to do good? “now that was wrong” she said in her sternest voice yet with a further wag of her finger

and she was right about that bit.

http://www.adoptionrightsalliance.com/PR_16-07-14.htm

“The Inter-Departmental report, which at the authors’ own admission was rushed out, appears to want to rule out any investigation of homes where unmarried mothers were either a) not present, such as in the case of Infant Homes (Temple Hill in Blackrock, Co. Dublin is one example) or b) not the sole residents of a home, as was the case in County Homes (which operated in all counties until the 1960s) erroneously stating that their inclusion would risk repeating much of the work of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Commission). This is simply not true of institutions such as Temple Hill and Stamullen Infant Hospitals, which handled a mixture of children destined for adoption from public and private hospitals, State-funded Mother and Baby Homes as well as private nursing homes. One private nursing home proprietor, Mary Keating, was found to have been involved in wholescale illegal adoptions in the mid-1960s through filing false birth registrations and failing to keep true records. Astonishingly, practices at St Rita’s and similar institutions have never been investigated.

Relegating institutions such as the County Homes and the Magdalene Laundries to a historical survey sends a very clear message to the most vulnerable, most ignored victims of these institutions, which is that their humanity could be set aside in the past and will continue to be set aside in any investigation, lest it embarrass or financially encumber the state. We are at a loss to understand why the Inter-Departmental Group felt that a historical survey was any sort of substitute for restorative justice. This discriminatory approach, in our opinion, guarantees that the investigation is destined for failure before it ever commences.

The most surprising omission from the report is the complete exclusion of the role of the Adoption Board/Authority with regard to rubber-stamping adoptions and its absolute failure over 62 years to identify any illegalities and to pursue criminal sanctions against adoption agencies.”

Taken from the response to the inter-departmental report from the adoption rights alliance.

Catherine Corless is still working tirelessly and Kevin Higgins is a lawyer for the families who is also campaigning fiercely. So I’m quite wrong to repeat a notion tweeted by some that back in Tuam no one cares as clearly they do. Not least the survivors and their families as highlighted by Alison O Reilly above focussing on the Dolan family and their fight to have their son/brother exhumed and buried in a fitting manner of their choice where they can pay their respects. Their simultaneous fight to know if his brother is there or adopted, and where he is. We must be careful of the notion that no-one cares and that no-one is affected (with exception to those selling houses). As clearly this is a very harrowing and very present.

I defy anyone to be unaffected.

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http://www.broadsheet.ie/2014/09/26/the-power-to-exhume/

Kevin Higgins: “I think that’s is absolutely true. I think the evidence, including public records is such that there simply must be an excavation of the site in Tuam to establish the truth of what lies beneath. And, as you’re possibly aware, there is a very specific statutory provision which confers absolute discretion on the Attorney General. It is in fact Section 24 of Coroner’s Act 1962 and I’ll read it for you if you wish.”

Boucher-Hayes: “Oh, don’t do that. Put it into English, please.”

Higgins: “Well, actually, it’s in remarkably plain English, remarkably plain English. It says “Where the Attorney General has reason to believe that a person has died in circumstances which in his opinion make the holding of an inquest advisable he may direct any coroner to hold an inquest in relation to the death of that person”.”

Boucher-Hayes: “Ok so, basically, the Attorney General can tell a coroner to hold an inquest.”

Higgins: “Indeed, and can indeed nominate a coroner of his, or indeed as it is today, her choice. And the discretion is particular and specific to the Attorney. It’s without reference to any minister or office of the State. It is entirely, the matter entirely rests with her based on the information available to the Attorney.”

There was and still is a lot of head scratching as to why she chose not to exhume.

There was finally a response from the thus far quiet bon secours order, it did not suggest they would welcome any inquiry as various newspapers have quoted other orders as saying. Instead they had chosen to instruct a PR professional ro respond to requests. As french film maker Saskia Weber discovers.

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http://seventyninepercent.com/page6.htm

This blogger has done very important work in uncovering evidence in Galway county council files when the housing estate was built that the old sewerage system from the workhouse was there just below the surface and was used as a burial site. The whole housing estate is designed and built around the mass grave(s)

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referred to the necessity for exercising care and consideration to developing the area which he had suggested as play ground, giving regard to the existence of a memorial on the site, a children’s burial ground, and another burial ground adjoining

It wasnt just the children playing there in the 70’s who knew about the bones. The nuns knew all along. The residents knew all along. The council knew all along.

The publishing of the terms of reference are now delayed past Autumn when they were promised. Minister O Reilly speaking with the Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors on the 13th Nov pointed out the matter had yet to be approved by government. The statement is on the fb page ‘adoption rights now’.

http://www.thejournal.ie/mother-and-baby-home-terms-of-reference-1776060-Nov2014/?utm_source=shortlink

The deadline for publishing the terms of references had originally been set as Autumn, with Fianna Fáil now raising concerns that the process has now been ‘stalled’. The party’s Spokesperson on Children Robert Troy called the delay “unacceptable”, and said it could be “used to diminish the importance and scope of the work that needs to be carried out”.

It is also appears that the commission has not yet been legally created, which it seems must be done before minister O Reilly can release the terms of reference. Which we should remember will be carried out under the Commission of Investigation Act 2004

http://www.dcya.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=%2Fdocuments%2FMotherandBabyInfoPage.htm

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http://seventyninepercent.com/page7.htm

The proposed Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes will be governed from beginning to end by the Commission of Investigation Act 2004. Nowhere in the Act will you find that any Commission set up under the Act will have any power to address the immediate concern of families who have infant relatives buried in mass graves. It will not have the power to order exhumations or inquests or prosecute anyone. It will make a ‘Report’ to Government based on whatever records of Mother and Baby Homes that have not been hidden, destroyed or lost. It will listen respectfully to those survivors still living who have the strength to give evidence before it,  if it decides to hear such evidence. But it will do no more, because it does not have the power to do anything else. The constant piffle  talked about Terms of Reference is largely meaningless, simply because the nature of the Investigation is confined to the provisions of the 2004 Act.

http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/reilly-aims-to-set-up-probe-into-mother-and-baby-homes-297764.html#.VGXy0Ihw1Fc.twitter

His overriding concern was that the Commission of Investigation into mother- and-baby homes might be flawed if the terms of reference were too wide.

Dr Reilly said the commission could not be viewed as a vehicle to inquire into all matters where there was a deficit in the treatment of people.

This reads to my mother and I as person who is lacking information, understanding and compassion. The terms can not be too narrow as to exclude nurseries and the Bethany home, promised by his predecessor to be included. What has changed? To exclude these demonstrates that the government has ignored the wealth of information and experience shared with them by professionals and those directly affected. What investigation starts to consider terms of reference by ignoring the facts available? Why were they asked for? why disingenuously use knowledge shared by those seeking justice, against them?

http://thephilomenaproject.org/PR%20PP%20161114.pdf

Released today this letter from Philomena Lee backing the adoption information bill ahead of the Senead vote on Wednesday.

“If this legislation had been in place years ago, Anthony and I would have been reunited with each other before he died. Instead, he died believing I had rejected him. It is too late for us, but would be a big help to other women who were separated from their sons and daughters by adoption. I hope every Senator will do what’s right and support it.”
81 year old Philomena also hopes that her candor in coming forward will help other mothers of loss to shed the stigma of secrecy and shame they have carried for far too long.
My mother and I share this sentiment and see that her mother (my grandmother); our own Philomena would feel the same way, were she here to convey it. She has passed and my mother is fighting for the truth of their time together and to prevent this from happening again and again. We know in much the same as we Anthony would be, were he here to convey it.

Ireland’s adoption legislation can be adjusted to prevent this in the future and should go further to allow access to records.

This is the case for 40 years in the UK with no consequence and no needless health risks… children are still at risk from the system now in Ireland that contravenes human rights . Particularly Articles 2 and 3.
I am a UK citizen in England and Wales : All records are open at eighteen years of age since 1976
Scotland: All records open at seventeen years of age since 1937.
Germany: All records open at sixteen years of age.
Holland: All records open at twelve years of age.
Australia: Thanks to lobbying by coalitions of natural mothers and adoptees, six of the seven states/territories, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, have already formally apologised for the forced adoption practices of the past. There has been a formal apology in the Federal National Parliament in March 2013. In 1984 Victoria began opening records to adoptees at eighteen years of age
New Zealand: All records open at twenty years of age since 1985.
United States of America: Due to pressure by hundreds of adoption rights representative groups, individual states have begun opening their adoption records to adult adoptees including: Alabama, Alaska, Oregon, Kansas, New Hampshire and Maine. Others are expected to follow.
Northern Ireland: All records open at eighteen years of age since 1987 (please note in relation to human rights and the Good Friday agreement).

Ireland is seriously lagging in line with the rest of the countries signed in agreement to the UN declaration of human rights. In addition The Republic of Ireland signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 30 September 1990 and has an obligation therein to adoptees and the children of adoptees to not subject them as a direct result of the adoption process alone to unnecessary medical and health risk.

This is what we need:

1. we need all existing records from forced adoptions that pertain to us and our families.
this letter states that the release of needed information is ‘still severely restricted by Irish legislation’.

why?  It is time to let people be who they are and see who they are if they so wish. Any available records should be given to the only people with any interest in them, their rightful owners.

we need an end to the use of confusing and misleading language
It is truly astonishing how the Irish state *still* calls trafficking and stealing babies to sell ‘adoption’ but then responds to the word adoption as if it were a normal everyday surrendering of a child to state care.. It is especially pernicious to then hide these documents under legislation and pretend the mother was promised some sort of privacy. No amount of subterfuge lies and hiding the paperwork changes what it is.

2. We need complete unfettered access to medical records for all adopted adults and all adopted parents of minors.
Incomplete medical histories are something many people live with but a government needlessly keeping files closed and information disregarded behind legislation? It is discriminatory and you have to wonder why?

3. we need burial sites to be located, identities to be established using the existing information and forensic testing. We need relatives to be contacted and allowed access to grave sites to carry out exhumation if they so wish.
We need to be able to bury or dead with dignity and love.

We aren’t interested in social history projects. We need the truth. We need accountability. We need justice. We deserve respect. We want to bury our relatives with the love that they deserve where we choose, how we choose.

4. we need accountability for crimes committed against humanity
If the starving of innocent babies is not a crime then we want to know why? We want an end to any and all discrimination against survivors and their families.

I would urge anyone who has been effected by this or who needs help to start a trace to look at the adoption rights alliance website where they have an extremely useful handbook to help. I can be found on facebook our advocacy page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-For-Irish-Mothers-Childrens-Homes/578489822271515?ref_type=bookmark and on twitter is https://twitter.com/Justicefor800

Together we can do what is morally correct and return the fragile broken bones of these much-loved and yearned for babies to the fragile broken hearts of their much-loved and yearned for mothers.

  Le chéile beidh muid a thabhairt dóibh síocháin!

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Irelands mother and baby homes, 800 dead babies, and us

2 thoughts on “Irelands mother and baby homes, 800 dead babies, and us

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