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Dublin: 8 °C Tuesday 23 October, 2018
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LAST WEEK THE Tuam mother and baby revelations shocked the country. 

This is the first time Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been in the Dáil since Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone announced that “substantial” amounts of human remains were found in septic tanks buried below the ground of the Tuam site.

Other issues likely to be discussed are the terms of reference relating to the Grace case. 

Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin says local historian Catherine Corless has uncovered a “dark side” of Ireland’s history.

“There is an enormous sense of shame,” he says.

The State, religious orders and society are culpable in their treatment to the women and their children, says Martin.

He wants the Taoiseach to give a formal apology here today and to widen the scope of the mother and baby inquiry.

Martin says we need to learn from this to inform us how to treat Irish children today.

Once and for all comprehensively deal with the gaps in services for children in Ireland today, he says.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says “we buried our compassion, humanity and mercy” and describes the burial site as a “chamber of horrors”.

Tuam is not just a burial ground, it is a social and cultural sepulchre. That is what it is. As a society in the so-called “good old days”, we did not just hide away the dead bodies of tiny human beings, we dug deep and deeper still to bury our compassion, our mercy and our humanity itself.

No nuns broke into our homes to kidnap our children. We gave them up to what we convinced ourselves was the nuns’ care. We gave them up maybe to spare them the savagery of gossip, the wink and the elbow language of delight in which the holier than thous were particularly fluent. We gave them up because of our perverse, in fact, morbid relationship with what is called respectability. Indeed, for a while it seemed as if in Ireland our women had the amazing capacity to self-impregnate. For their trouble, we took their babies and gifted them, sold them, trafficked them, starved them, neglected them or denied them to the point of their disappearance from our hearts, our sight, our country and, in the case of Tuam and possibly other places, from life itself.

We are all shocked now. If the fruit of her religious and social transgression could be discarded, what treatment was meted out to the transgressor herself? We better deal with this now because if we do not, some other Taoiseach will be standing here in 20 years saying, “If only we knew then and if only we had done then”.

That Taoiseach’s then is our now. Now, we do know. Now, we have to do. All of us in this House must do so together.

Enda Kenny commends Catherine Corless on her pain-staking work. He says gardaí and the coroner are dealing with the next steps.

He says he wants to be the Taoiseach to “once and for all deal with the sad legacies of the past”.

Kenny says the coroner and gardaí are independent and will make their own decisions about how to proceed with the investigation.

Pearse Doherty raises the same subject, as Gaeilge.

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Brendan Howlin now raises the Grace case and commends Daniel O’Connell, journalist with The Irish Examiner, as well as TD John Deasy for their work in bringing the case to light.

He says the State agencies concealed from her mother what was happening. He says she is now living through a “living hell”.

Howlin says Grace was not protected.

I want you to confirm the terms of reference include the care that all children in this foster home received. He wants the terms of reference to be widened.

Kenny says this is another disgraceful case. He said he listened to the voice of her mother this morning.

He said he and everyone in this House has a duty to try and solve this.

I thought we had come into sight at the end of these (cases), but obviously not.

He says he understands a garda investigation is still ongoing.

The Cabinet agreed terms of reference today – one of the conditions is that further investigations deemed warranted by the commission will be allowed.

Kenny says there are eleven different sections in the terms of reference, which will be debated later on this evening.

AAA-PBP Bríd Smith says she is sick of hearing that we are all at fault for Tuam.

She says it was all paid for by the State.

“It was systemic abuse – the Church and the State worked together,” she says.

She hits out against Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, for opening up a new Bon Secours hospital just a few days after the Tuam revelations.

“What is the first thing we shouldn’t do – stand outside the new Bon Secours hospital,” she tells the Taoiseach. She calls for the organisation to be disbanded.

She calls for protests to be held outside Bon Secours hospitals this Friday.

Kenny says it is important for the independent commission to do its work now.

Smith also asked about her Bill which will reduce the penalty for women getting an abortion to a fine of €1.

Kenny says she is seeking to change something that is in the Constitution.

Smith speaks about the Bon Secours again. “It is the biggest private health provider in this country. If we are serious about putting this behind us, it must disband and write itself out of the history of this country.”

The abuse of women and children has not stopped.

When is the Church going to be made to pay… get them out of our lives, out of our beds, out of our schools.

Enda Kenny is now talking about Vera Twomey who has walked from Cork to the Dáil today with TD Gino Kenny.

The Taoiseach says the health minister is meeting her again today, but says the decision about granting the prescription for medicinal cannabis does not lie with him but the medical profession.

That’s it for Leaders’ Questions today folks, join us back here tomorrow.

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