9,000 children died in Irish mother-and-baby homes, government report finds

LONDON – An investigation into Ireland’s church-owned homes for unmarried mothers found that approximately 9,000 children died in the facilities from 1922 to the late 1990s Government report published Tuesday.

The Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes also investigated allegations that some children in the homes were used in vaccination trials without parental consent.

A former resident of one of the houses spoke to NBC News and said she was used as a “guinea pig” for vaccines in a Cork home before she was adopted by a Philadelphia family in 1961.

Infant and baby shoes are hung on the playground fence while a vigil is held at the Tuam mass burial site in Tuam, Ireland on August 25, 2019.Charles McQuillan / Getty Images File

The mother and baby homes, many of which were run by nuns and members of the Catholic Church, were in operation for most of the 20th century. The last home was not closed until 1998. They received government funding and also acted as adoption agencies that were regulated by the state.

The institutions accepted women who became pregnant out of wedlock, taboo in the conservative country, and were viewed as an attempt to preserve the country’s pious Catholic image. Now the houses are synonymous with a dark chapter in the nation’s history, say Irish politicians and survivors.

Local amateur historian Catherine Corless shed light on home abuse for the first time.

She discovered an unmarked mass cemetery in Tuam, western Galway County, which led to an investigation that uncovered the remains of at least 700 children buried between 1925 and 1961. This was the result of a report from 2017.

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The Irish Commission of Inquiry into Native and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters was set up by the Irish Government in 2015. All houses examined are now closed.

The Irish Department of Children told NBC News ahead of the report’s release that it was “a milestone for the many thousands of former residents and their families”.

However, prior to publication, details of the report were leaked to the media, causing outrage among victims – including the mother and child survivors Philomena Leewhose story was portrayed in a 2013 film with Dame Judi Dench.

Ireland has traditionally been a Catholic stronghold, but decades of abuse scandals have damaged the Church’s reputation and weakened its influence.

On his first papal visit to the country in nearly four decades in 2018, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the scandal surrounding mother and baby homes.

The Clann Project, an initiative of survival groups working to find out the truth about what was going on in the homes, said before the report was released that the government “must recognize the shame and stigma that unmarried mothers and their children face the policies of the state were imposed. ” Practices methods exercises. “

She also called on the Irish government to encourage the Catholic Church to recognize responsibility and participate in the process of reparation for victims.

In recent years Ireland has changed its stance on a number of issues, including the overwhelming vote to approve abortion and gay marriage in referendums.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Helena Skinner contributed.

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