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Government reminded local authorities of their obligation to report infant deaths in mother and baby homes in 1946

Maternity homes that did not notify the authorities were liable to be fined up to ten pounds.

THE MINISTER FOR Local Government and Public health in 1946 warned local authorities to keep up with the administration of mother and baby homes.

A circular sent on behalf of the minister at the time, Fianna Fáil’s Seán MacEntee, stated that the minister had received “representations” that many local authorities were not “paying attention” to the administration of the registration of maternity homes under the Maternity Homes Act 1934.

photo (12) Source: National Archives

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meas Source: National Archives

The circular states:

Particular attention is drawn also to Section 11 of the Act regarding the obligation imposed on the person registered to report to the chief executive officer of the supervising authority any death which occurs in the home.

This requirement is of special importance in view of the incidence of enteritis in new-born infants and because of the possibility of transmission of the disease it is most essential that the public health authority should be in a position to exercise immediate and strict controls…

Enteritis is usually caused by eating or drinking substances that are contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The germs settle in the small intestine and cause inflammation and swelling.

The circular goes on to remind registered maternity homes that “failure or neglect to comply” with the requirement of notification under the section of the Act would render the home liable for a fine. The Act states that fine should not exceed ten pounds.

Read: Here’s how to make a submission to the mother and baby homes inquiry>

Read: Here’s a letter giving state approval of Tuam mother and baby home>

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