Grim treatment in Catholic children's homes uncovered as mum told 'you're dirt'

A heartbreaking report reveals dismal results that 9,000 children died in children’s homes run by the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Irish auditor revealed that a nun told a mother, “God doesn’t want you – you are filth.”

While another said a nun would hit her if she wet her bed.

An Irish survey of alarming baby death rates in 18 facilities reveals that unmarried mothers have been exposed for decades to “suffocating, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture,” the country’s minister for children said.

Between the 19th and 20th centuries, so-called mother and baby homes were set up to house women who had become pregnant outside of marriage.

It is estimated that between 1922 and the closure of the last such home in 1998, up to 9,000 children died in 18 facilities.

That is around 15 percent of all those affected, says the report.

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The homes made international headlines back in 2014 when 796 children were found buried on the site of a former home in Tuam, County Galway.

Some of the mothers described the abuse they had received from those who were supposed to take care of them, the Irish examiner reported

One told how she started crying when she was dropped off in one of the houses and the nun hit her in the back and said, “You are here now and you will be here until you get rid of the child. You ‘I will be back next year, you’re just a prostitute anyway. “

Another recalled how “a young girl” whose child died two months after birth asked where the baby had been buried, but the nuns replied that “she shouldn’t know”.


The government approved the publication of the 3,000-page report on Tuesday after a five-year investigation.

The many thousands of women and children affected by the functioning of the institutions are expected to be formally apologized, Minister Roderic O’Gorman said in a statement.

In 1945-46, the infant mortality rate in maternity and baby homes was almost twice the national average for “illegitimate” children, according to the report.

“In the years prior to 1960, mother and baby homes did not save the lives of ‘illegitimate’ children. In fact, they appear to have significantly reduced their chances of survival, it said.

Tuam cemetery

“The very high death rates were known to local and national authorities at the time and were recorded in official publications.”

Prior to its release on Tuesday, O’Gorman said it was “a landmark for the Irish state”.

He said: “The Commission’s investigation is revealing the truth to many thousands of women and children about what has happened within the walls of maternity and baby homes and beyond.

“It is important for posterity, too, to write these journeys, these broken hearts, these truths in the words of those who have experienced them firsthand.

“The report makes clear that for decades Ireland had a suffocating, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture, in which pervasive stigmatization of unmarried mothers and their children deprived them of their agency and sometimes of their future.”

The government is also expected to financially recognize the specific groups identified in the report, he added.

Laws are also being drafted to aid in the excavation, exhumation and, where possible, identification of remains at burial sites in the homes where children of newborn ages were buried.

Relatives attend the vigil in Tuam

The Maternity and Baby Homes report found that the main responsibility for the harsh treatment of unmarried mothers in Ireland rests with “their own immediate families”.

It says: “Women who gave birth outside of marriage were treated particularly harshly.

“The responsibility for this harsh treatment rests primarily with the fathers of their children and their own immediate families.

“It was supported, contributed to and tolerated by the institutions of the state and the churches.

“It must be recognized, however, that the institutions studied offered refuge – in some cases hard refuge – when families offered no refuge at all.”

The report made 53 recommendations on issues such as compensation and commemoration.

The government should review the report in the “coming weeks and months,” it said in a statement.

The aim is to develop a plan of action that focuses on eight specific themes: a survival-centered approach, an apology, access to personal information, archiving and databases, memorials, restorative recognition and dignified burial.

The government set up a counseling service for survivors who first got access on Tuesday.

The HSE National Counseling Service (NCS) offers a survivor counseling service Monday through Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The government has committed to providing compensation to some of the survivors.

A tailor-made ex gratia recognition recovery system has been put in place to allow certain groups identified by the commission of inquiry to receive financial recognition.

The government has reaffirmed its commitment that individuals can access personal data contained in the Commission’s records in accordance with the GDPR.


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