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Redacted Lives: Final episode explores redress and plans to excavate Tuam mother and baby home site

The final episode in the series features an interview with Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman.

LAST UPDATE | 15 Dec 2022


THE FINAL EPISODE of Redacted Lives, a six-part documentary series by The Journal about mother and baby homes, is out now.

The series follows the experiences of mothers who ended up in institutions because they became pregnant outside marriage, as well as people born into the system.

Tens of thousands of pregnant women and girls were sent to mother and baby homes in Ireland throughout the 20th century. Their children were usually adopted or sent to industrial schools – often without their mother’s consent.

Mother and baby homes existed in many countries but the proportion of unmarried mothers sent to institutions here is believed to have been the highest in the world.

Many women have tried to find their children over the years, but to no avail. Adopted people also struggled to find their parents, or information about their early life.

These people were silenced for decades – and when the State finally said it would investigate the system via a Commission of Investigation, many survivors felt that their experiences were dismissed and disregarded.

A Living Wound

In the sixth and final episode in the series, A Living Wound, we hear from Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman.

The minister has faced a range of challenges in his two and a half years in office, not least the Government’s promise to end Direct Provision – the controversial system through which Ireland houses asylum seekers; and, more recently, helping refugees who have fled war-torn Ukraine.

But one topic has perhaps dominated his time in office more than any other: the fallout from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, and the State’s bid to make amends for the wrongs of the past.

O’Gorman is just the latest minister to have had some involvement with the Commission.

The inquiry was set up in 2015 by then-Children’s Minister James Reilly, while his successor Katherine Zappone was in office when it was confirmed that a significant amount of human remains had been discovered at the site of a former mother and baby institution in Tuam.

Attempts to grant adopted people access to their records go back further.

Many people will recall one particularly controversial bid in 2001, when proposed legislation would have criminalised adopted people who tried to contact their biological parents – if they had registered a no-contact preference.

There was fierce opposition to this Bill and ultimately it didn’t pass.

minister children 64 Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

O’Gorman is trying to succeed where his predecessors failed.

He has indeed passed a number of significant pieces of legislation in recent months, namely the Birth Information and Tracing Act 2022 and the Institutional Burials Act 2022.

But he has also been the subject of much anger due to what many people view as major flaws in these Acts.

He also became the public face of the Commission of Investigation and the Government’s defence of it when its report was published, although much of its work was complete before he took office.

In the final episode in the series, the minister discusses the Commission, redress, plans to finally excavate the site in Tuam, and efforts to grant adopted people access to their records.

Also in this episode, survivors we’ve met throughout the series explain why they disagree with the Government’s approach to redress and other issues.

Many of them believe the State could face further legal action if so many people remain excluded from the planned redress scheme.

As survivor Maria Arbuckle told us: “Five grand isn’t going to change my life. My son being taken off me changed my life. Five grand can’t give that back to me.”

Redacted Lives was created by the award-winning team of News Correspondent Órla Ryan, who has written extensively about mother and baby homes, producer Nicky Ryan, from the critically-acclaimed Stardust podcast, and executive producer Sinéad O’Carroll.

Subscribe to the series wherever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe now on:

If you passed through a mother and baby home or another institution and want to share your story, you can contact us in confidence by emailing

Redacted Lives is presented by Órla Ryan and produced by Nicky Ryan. Sineád O’Carroll is the executive producer.

Daragh Brophy and Christine Bohan were production supervisors.

Taz Kelleher is our sound engineer, and design is by Lorcan O’Reilly.

With thanks to Laura Byrne, Susan Daly, Adrian Acosta, Carl Kinsella and Jonathan McCrea.