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Justice for the Tuam Babies march 2014. Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home survivor 'We're not shocked by the news'

Tuam must not be seen in isolation and unfortunately is only the tip of the iceberg, writes Paul Redmond.

Paul Redmond was born in Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home, transferred to Saint Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, and then adopted at 17 days old, on mid winter’s day 1964. He has been an activist, campaigner and researcher into Mother and Baby Homes for several years, and has founded three activist or support groups.

THE SURVIVOR COMMUNITY is not shocked by the latest news that hundreds of bodies of babies and children have been “discovered” at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home at Tuam. This is something we have known for many years.

What is shocking is that once again we have to learn of this news via the media.

The communications skills of the Minister and the Commission of Inquiry leave a lot to be desired when it comes to keeping the survivor community up to date with developments.

Tuam must not be seen in isolation

It was the fifth biggest of the nine so called “Mother and Baby Homes” and it is the tip of the iceberg for deaths which amount to at least 6,000 babies and children across the nine homes.

There are over 227 confirmed deaths in the notorious Bethany Home in Dublin, and recent research has revealed the names of over 200 babies and children buried in the Angel’s Plot at Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home. These range from a few hours old to over two years.

There were also at least 77 confirmed stillbirths in Castlepollard, above and beyond the 200 registered deaths. There will be hundreds of unregistered stillbirths discovered in Tuam too.

There’s worse to come

Tuam Single Mothers and Babies Homes Tuam mother and baby home infant deaths. Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland Laura Hutton / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

The worst is yet to come as the huge behemoths of Saint Patrick’s, Bessboro and Sean Ross Abbey have yet to be revealed. But it is likely that the total for these three “Homes” alone will be well over 4,000 babies and children buried in shoeboxes and rags.

Our community is divided about the issue of excavations and exhumations.

Many are adamant that all the babies must be exhumed, identified and given proper burials. Others feel strongly that our former crib mates should be allowed to Rest In Peace.

There are no easy answers and some survivors will be horrified no matter what happens. Mutual respect and understanding must guide our community.

The Government must listen to survivors

The Government, Minister Zappone and the Inquiry must consider living survivors and their needs before any further excavations are pursued. They must keep us in the loop.

Our community is ageing and has been viciously cut in two by the current official policy of excluding many survivors from the Inquiry.

Survivors need to be heard instead of ignored, consulted instead of insulted. They must be treated with respect, instead of learning the latest developments via the media.

May our crib-mates in all the Mother and Baby Homes, Rest In Peace.

Paul Redmond is the chairperson of the Chairperson: Coalition of Mother and Baby home Survivors (CMABS).

Remains of young children and babies found in sewage chambers at Tuam mother and baby home>

Tuam babies: Next steps in finding the truth behind their deaths>


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