- 21 Mar 23
"Where there should be reparation, there is re-traumatization," she writes. "Where there should be accountability, there is abdication. Where there should be justice, there is injustice."
Following widespread outcry over the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme Bill, poet Laura Murphy has shared an open letter to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar – calling the redress scheme's exclusion of 40% of survivors "discriminating" and "dehumanising".
As stated by the Clann Project, the scheme "excludes everyone separated from their mother before the age of six months in a Mother and Baby Institution or County Home." The scheme also "does not recognise abuse in adoptive or ‘boarding out’ placements", and "prohibits mothers institutionalised in 13 Mother and Baby Homes from claiming a ‘work payment’." As such, a total of 24,000 survivors will be excluded.
Murphy, the daughter of a Mother and Baby Home survivor, published her letter on The Trailblazery's website today. In it, she condemns the "assertion by Minister O'Gorman that survivors who were separated from their mothers before six months of age should not receive redress because they 'will not remember their experiences'" – calling it "not only a blatant dismissal of survivor's testimony and live experiences" but "a denial of science."
"The collective trauma from the Mother and Baby Homes system cannot be resolved until all past harms are accepted and addressed," she continues. "The proposed redress scheme is both a denial and a perpetuation of past harms. The two specific groups of survivors your government plans on excluding have not only been significantly harmed, they have experienced and are continuing to experience significant violations of their human and constitutional rights."
"It is unthinkable, unconstitutional, and cruelly ironic that the survivors who were denied their most fundamental human rights to parental and State protection then are the ones who are being denied their right to reparation now," she adds.
"Where there should be reparation, there is re-traumatization. Where there should be accountability, there is abdication. Where there should be justice, there is injustice."
She calls on the Taoiseach to "ensure that all Mother and Baby Home survivors receive the ‘Restorative Recognition and Reparation’ that is rightfully theirs."
"This includes redress for all survivors and a State apology to those who were boarded out," she states. "Your support for boarded out survivors was unequivocal in your address to the Dáil as Tánaiste in 2021. You have the opportunity now, as Taoiseach, to deliver where Micheál Martin failed."
In the open letter, Murphy also criticises the fact that the people of Ireland are "being forced to pay full reparations for abuse and crimes committed by the Catholic Church".
"Considering the irrefutable evidence of the abuses committed by the Catholic Church and the profits made from human trafficking, forced unpaid labour, illegal adoptions, illegal vaccine trials and stipends from the State for every ‘offender’ (mother) and ‘illegitimate’ (child) in their ‘care’, it is outrageous that they are absolved of their responsibility to give back what they took from the Irish people," she remarks. "Instead, the full burden of responsibility is being placed on the Irish taxpayer for harm that was perpetrated by Church and State."
She calls on Varadkar to stand apart from each of his "predecessors who failed to make the Catholic Church accountable for the crimes against humanity perpetrated on the people of Ireland."
"Ensure that the Church contributes to redress costs on a 50:50 basis with the State," she writes. "It is essential for the healing and future of this nation that the Catholic Church is brought into a meaningful process of truth, reconciliation, and redress – not as a matter of charity but by way of reparation for crimes committed."
The full open letter is available to read here.
In 2021, in the wake of the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes report, Murphy also penned an open letter to Varadkar's predecessor, Micheál Martin, condemning the State apology to the survivors of the institutions – specifically, the Taoiseach’s claim that “we as a society” bore part of the responsibility for the wrongs that were committed.
She signed off the letter with a compelling call to action, joining a campaign already kicked off in 2019 by Melanie Lynch, Treacy O'Connor, and Lorna Evers Monaghan: to establish Brigid’s Day as a national holiday, to symbolise “how our society values women and men equally.” This year, that vision became a reality, with the inaugural public holiday to celebrate Imbolc and Brigid's Day.
Laura Murphy recently spoken the redress scheme, and the legacy of the Mother and Baby Homes in her own family, in a Hot Press Interview – available to read in full here.
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- 09 Nov 21