After a thorough investigation that has been ongoing for five and a half years, it’s been reported that at least 9,000 children have lost their lives in Irish mother-and-baby homes.
The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation have today released their report to the public. In the lengthy, detailed and comprehensive report, we can read about the experiences of women and children who lived in 14 of the many mother-and-baby homes, and four county homes during the years 1922 and 1998.
The report finds that about 15% of the children who were in these homes under investigation lost their lives, resulting in a staggering 9,000 infant deaths.
As the report outlines, “Ireland was a cold harsh environment for many, probably the majority, of its residents during the earlier half of the period under remit. It was especially cold and harsh for women.”
“All women suffered serious discrimination. Women who gave birth outside marriage were subject to particularly harsh treatment. Responsibility for that harsh treatment rests mainly with the fathers of their children and their own immediate families. It was supported by, contributed to, and condoned by, the institutions of the State and the Churches.”
The report also found that there were about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children in the mother-and-baby homes and county homes investigated by the Commission. “While mother and baby homes were not a peculiarly Irish phenomenon, the proportion of Irish unmarried mothers who were admitted to mother and baby homes or county homes in the twentieth century was probably the highest in the world,” the report explains.
“Some pregnancies were the result of rape; some women had mental health problems, some had an intellectual disability. However, the majority were indistinguishable from most Irish women of their time. The only difference between the women in mother and baby homes and their sisters, class-mates and work companions was that they became pregnant while unmarried.”
“Their lives were blighted by pregnancy outside marriage, and the responses of the father of their child, their immediate families and the wider community.”
You can read the full report here.
As a means to support the victims and survivors of these mother-and-baby or county homes, counselling services have been put in place, and can be accessed here.