- 13 Jan 21
“The report gives survivors what they have been denied for so long: their voice, their individuality, their right to be acknowledged," An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said in his emotional speech today.
Figures of Ireland's entertainment industry have offered their reactions to the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report and State apology from An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin today.
The deeply disturbing report showed 9,000 children died in such institutions between 1922 and 1998.
In all, a minimum 15 per cent of the approximately 57,000 children who were in the 18 institutions investigated by the commission died during their time there.
In a statement in the Dáil on Wednesday, Micheál Martin said the report highlighted a “profound failure” of empathy , understanding and compassion over a long period.
"On behalf of the Government, the State and its citizens, I apologise for the profound generational wrong visited upon Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a mother and baby home or in a county home. Each of you was in an institution because of the wrongs of others...each of you have nothing to be ashamed of. Each of you deserved so much better. The lack of respect for your fundamental dignity and rights as mothers and children...is humbly acknowledged and deeply regretted."
"The State's duty of care was not upheld," Martin continued. "The State failed you, the mothers and children in these homes. We must always seek to create a more just society, grounded in respect, diversity, tolerance and equality. We must learn the lesson that institutionalisation creates power structures, and abuses of power, and must never again be an option for our country in any circumstance."
"We must learn the lesson that institutionalisation creates power structures, and abuses of power, and must never again be an option for our country in any circumstance. The shame was not theirs: it was ours. It was our shame that we did not show them the respect and compassion that we owed them. It remains our shame."
Is 9,000 children dying, not evidence in itself evidence of abuse ? @RBoydBarrett
At this point, the #MotherandBabyHomes report is beginning to look like a sham, an insult and a whitewash.#Dail #LQs pic.twitter.com/PzI7zmYZve
— Mick Caul 😷 (@caulmick) January 13, 2021
Opposition TDs Holly Cairns, People Before Profit's Richard Boyd Barrett, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, RISE's Paul Murphy and more called for justice in the form of compensation for survivors of the mother and baby homes, and their respective families. The Opposition also pleaded for criminal prosecutions to take place for the victims' sake, and for survivors groups' demands to be upheld.
"If we are to genuinely respond to this report we must ensure survivors are given redress, that justice is vigorously pursued and that the people and organisations who committed these crimes are pursued and prosecuted," Social Democrat Holly Cairns, TD said. "Shame on us all if we settle for anything less."
Those in the entertainment industry also made their voices heard on yesterday's shocking report, which survivor's groups were deeply hurt by, stating that it only skimmed the surface of the abuse. The report was also carried out without legal input, and did not accept the testimonies of thousands of women and children as criminal evidence.
That the State couldn’t be bothered having the report on the Mother and Babies Homes says more than all the apologies. It simply isn’t possible for ordinary people - including me - to manage this 2700+ page document.
— Vincent Browne (@vincentbrowne) January 13, 2021
Another issue was that the horrific experiences of Traveller and mixed race women and children did not lead the Commission to conclude that discrimination had taken place in the homes. Numerous paragraphs point blame at Irish society overall rather than the Church and State, and deflect away from officially stating that both sexual abuse and torture had occurred.
The Government "did not opt for" a Human Rights and Equality framework in their mandate, according to Dr Maeve O'Rourke.
"It will take a very long time for academics to read and do detailed analysis of Mother and Baby Homes report, so today it is the voices of the survivors, activists and advocates I’m listening to," Historian Dr Mary McAuliffe tweeted. "And they seem not impressed-is this yet another inquiry letdown?"
My heart breaks today at the Mother and Baby Homes report. Until we hold these institutions to account, how could we ever hope for victims to begin to heal from trauma of that magnitude.
— Hozier (@Hozier) January 13, 2021
"My heart breaks today at the Mother and Baby Homes report. Until we hold these institutions to account, how could we ever hope for victims to begin to heal from trauma of that magnitude," Hozier tweeted.
Dublin rapper Nealo described the "unbearable" cruelty of the report:
"The harm done to generations of Irish women by the Catholic Church can never be undone. They should sell their land and pay damages to every single survivor and their families."
"We need to dismantle the Catholic Church as an institution," the hip-hop artist added. "It’s outdated, cruel, racist and misogynistic. They were supposed to be the ‘guardians of spirituality’ in Ireland, but instead they tortured women and children, and never once were made to pay the price for it."
— Mango (@MangoDassle) January 12, 2021
"The State and Catholic Church are firmly to blame for the horrendous abuse suffered by our women and children," Jedward tweeted. "A state apology is not enough! Where is the Catholic Church apology? 9000 children died! Where is the justice? #motherandbabyhomes"
"To suggest state and church are not firmly to blame for the abhorrent treatment of our women and children is beyond wrong and no doubt cold comfort for the victims of this horror. #motherandbabyhomes"
Oliver Callan encouraged the need for this dark period of history to be cemented in education:
"Agree with Taoiseach; present and future generations must learn and remember our dark history to fully honour its victims. His Government should add the story of institutional child abuse, the laundries, #motherandbabyhomes and cover ups to school and Leaving Cert history syllabuses."
Crucially, Callan also noted that taxpayers, rather than the Catholic Church or State, actually paid for the redress for institutional child abuse:
Taxpayers paid 87% of redress for institutional child abuse, thanks to indemnity gifted by Fianna Fáil to Catholic Church in 2002 and unchallenged by 4 Govts since. In the eyes of Govt then and now, ordinary citizens were mostly to blame, not religious orders. #MotherandBabyHomes
— Oliver Callan (@olivercallan) January 12, 2021
Constellations author and poet Sinéad Gleeson tweeted Ellen Coyne's coverage in the Irish Independent, adding:
"9,000 dead babies. Giving birth alone without pain relief. Violence. The #motherandbabyhomes report invokes pure revulsion at the evil perpetrated on women, single mothers and girls as young as 12. Misogyny and religion entwined in a shameful legacy."
"This was the work of unelected overlords in the Church, working hand-in-hand with the State and its agencies. They are to blame. Not Mr and Mrs Murphy from down the road who were brainwashed by corrupt people in religious & state power."
"Blaming ‘society’ for enabling Mother & Baby Prisons is like blaming puppies for cruel puppy farms. People in power are to blame," Kavanagh adds. "The Church and the State, together, created & nourished the violent & misogynistic society which enabled these prisons. I feel like these half-baked apologies & ways of dealing with our shitty past stifle societal progress. We’ve been here so many times I feel, and the victims of institutional abuse are never, ever treated properly."
I don't want to hear or read any "dark days" shite from any politician today unless they are also actively demanding and working to #EndDirectProvision
— Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera (@PantiBliss) January 13, 2021
Irish Times columnist, writer and United Ireland podcaster Una Mullally said:
"The Taoiseach says: 'We did this to ourselves as a society.' Who is this 'we'? Who created the context? Who built theocracy? This shame the State insists we internalise is the unprocessed guilt of oppressors. New generations refuse to carry this. Justice for survivors. Now."
A designated helpline for survivors of the Mother and Baby Homes has been established and is available from 6-10pm, 7 days a week, at 1800 477 477. Alternatively, Women’s Aid can be reached on 1800 341 900.