Nowadays families come in all shapes and sizes, but in the last century, many women who were unmarried and pregnant were sent to have their babies in secret, in places called mother and baby homes.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin apologised on behalf of the state for the treatment of these women and children after the Commission of Investigation on Mother and Baby Homes published its report yesterday.
“The State failed you,” he said. “Each of you deserved so much better.”
He said the women and children had nothing to be ashamed of. “The shame was not theirs it was ours. It was our shame that we did not show them the respect and compassion which we as a country owed them. It remains our shame.”
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Martin said the report from the Commission of Investigation into the homes has afforded the country a “moment for us as a society to recognise a profound failure of empathy, understanding and basic humanity over a lengthy period”.
He said the commission’s report reveals the dominant role of the Churches and their moral code and lays bare the failures of the State.
They have produced the definitive account, he said, of how Ireland responded to the needs of single women and their children at a time when they “most needed support and protection”.
The lack of birth information is a “terrible burden” on the lives of survivors, he said.
The National Counselling Service has been asked to provide counselling to former residents through its counselling locations.
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