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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 4 July, 2020

Here's a letter giving state approval of Tuam mother and baby home

The letter on behalf of the Minister for Health of the day was issued to mother and baby homes who were seeking approval as maternity homes.

THIS IS THE LETTER from the Minister for Health’s office in 1957 that approved the Bon Secours mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway.


The letter (which can be viewed here) states that the minister of the day, Fine Gael’s Tom O’Higgins, approved a number of maternity homes under the provision of section 25 of the Health Act 1953.

Many of these homes were already registered prior to the 1953 provision in the Act, as stated in the letter.

unnamed (3) Source: Department of Health register/National Archives of Ireland

unnamed (4) List of maternity homes in 1934. Source: Department of Health register/National Archives of Ireland

It states the approval as a maternity home can be revoked “at any time” if the minister deemed such circumstances justified him taking such action.

Tom O’Higgins also served as the Chief Justice of Ireland and was a member of the European Court of Justice until 1991.

He also ran for President of Ireland in 1966, where he lost to Eamon DeValera by just over 10,000 votes, and 1976.

O’Higgins died in 2003.

Under section 25 of the Health Act 1956, mother and baby home’s had to be approved by the Department of Health.

It states that a parent of a child and/ or a child is entitled “if he so desires, in lieu of accepting services made available by the health authority, arrange for the like services being made available for him or for the child (as the case may be)—

(a) in any hospital approved of by the Minister for the purposes of this section, or

(b) in any nursing home or maternity home approved of by the Minister for the purposes of this section,

It continues to state:

… and where a person so arranges, the health authority shall, in accordance with such regulations as may be made by the Minister, make, in respect of the services made available, a payment as provided for in this section.
(2) Where institutional services are made available in pursuance of subsection
(1) of this section otherwise than in a private or semi-private ward in any institution (not being a health institution) with which the health authority have made an arrangement under section 10 of this Act, the payment to be made by the health authority to the institution in respect of the institutional services shall be equivalent to the payment which would be made to the institution pursuant to the said arrangement, less a sum of six shillings for each day during which the services are availed of.

EXCLUSIVE: State files removed from National Archive following mother and baby home revelations>

Read: Hundreds attend vigil in remembrance of those who died in mother and baby homes>

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