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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 13 August 2022

Mary Lou McDonald warns that Tuam mass grave could be one of 'dozens'

Sinn Féin’s deputy leader has called for a public inquiry to look into all mother and baby homes nationwide.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

SINN FÉIN HAS called for a full public inquiry into mother and baby homes after a mass grave allegedly containing the bodies of almost 800 infants was discovered on the grounds of a former children’s home in Tuam.

The party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said that any inquiry launched by the government must not focus exclusively on the home in Galway.

She said that similar graves could exist at “dozens” of mother and baby homes across the country.

“As shocking as Tuam has been – and it is very, very harrowing – it’s not an isolated incident at all.

“Successive governments very deliberately excluded mother and baby homes from any form of redress or recognition. That now needs to change. These were state-funded institutions.

There are mass graves dotted around the country. We don’t have the option of looking the other way. We need to confront this legacy issue for the sake of the children, but also for the sake of the mothers that have suffered, and for the sake of many, many children who were adopted, some of them illegally, from these institutions.

McDonald added that the government has “very deliberately refused to deal with Bethany [Home]“, a residential home in Dublin for Church of Ireland mothers and children.

‘Dreadful piece of history’

It was not included in the 2002 Residential Institutions Redress scheme as the women were said to be there voluntarily.

If they dealt with Bethany Home it meant that they had to deal with other mother and baby homes. That game is now up for the government.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that an inquiry was necessary to gather the full facts surrounding this  ”dreadful piece of history”.

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“The nation needs to know, but more particularly mothers who have survived need to know what happened to their babies.

Adams noted that the “vast majority of people didn’t know” what went on these homes, adding that “the church hierarchy wasn’t about liberation of souls – it was about control, about power”.

Children’s Minister Charlie Flanagan has said the revelations in Tuam are “deeply disturbing”.

“Relevant government departments have been tasked with working together in preparation for the government’s early consideration and determination of the best course of action,” Flanagan stated.

Background: ‘It’s time to do something’ – The forgotten mass grave of 800 babies in Galway

Related: Government departments to examine ‘deeply disturbing revelations’ of child burials

Read: Memorial to 222 children who died at Bethany Home to be unveiled

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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