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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland
Opinion It may seem heartless, but we shouldn't fund an inquiry into religious-run homes
I shudder to imagine what those mothers and their beautiful babies went through. But we need to ask the difficult question: is this the correct use of funds that children living today so badly need?

AS SOMEONE WHO has loved and cared for hundreds of pre-school children for more than 35 years, I have strong reservations about the Government’s decision to establish an inquiry into the religious-run mother-and-baby homes.

I shudder to think of what those mothers and their beautiful babies must have gone through. I wonder how anyone, especially those who were supposed to care for them, stood by and watched them suffer, take their last breath and close their beautiful eyes for the last time.

The authorities and the government at the time closed their eyes to what they must have known was going on in the homes. May God forgive them because history never will.

How many millions of euros will it all cost?

We are now going to have an investigation to tell us what we know already; that there was a huge breach of trust by those in charge. How many millions of euros will it all cost to find out, or not find out, the full truth of what really happened?

Does that seem a heartless or insensitive point of view?

The horrific tragedies that befell thousands of mothers and their babies cannot be undone, and no investigation can change the past.

However, the Government, and in particular the Department of Children, should and need to focus their energy on the here and now, on our children who are alive today – some struggling with ill health, disabilities and learning difficulties.

For example, children in Government-funded preschool schemes who have additional needs and require specific support will be denied a fulfilling preschool experience due to lack of funding for special needs assistants. Why do the parents of children with special needs have to beg for what is their right? Or what about those children who are living in environments that are in no way suitable for their needs, such as deplorable refugee ‘homes’ where families have been living for years, denied their place in society?

We must ask the difficult question

Resources and funds that are currently available to the Department of Children will be deferred to investigate how such awful tragedies were allowed to happen in Ireland’s mother-and-baby homes. We should ask ourselves the difficult question – is this the correct use of funds that our children of today so badly need? How will history judge today’s Government officials and civil servants and their decision to put resources into confirming a history we cannot change while children living today are in need of basic resources?

I am asking the Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan to invest the resources available to him and his Department into improving the lives of today’s children. Please get it right and learn from previous mistakes. It is my firm belief that we should honour those mothers and babies who suffered terribly by cherishing our precious children of today, and doing what is right, now.

Regina Bushell is the founder and managing director of Grovelands Childcare.

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