Senator calls for full Mother and Baby apology from Galway County Council at meeting

Green party Senator Pauline O'Reilly has called on Galway County Council to issue a full apology to the survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Homes at their meeting in Corrandulla tomorrow (Monday ).

Soeaking in the Seanad, Sen O'Reilly commended all of those who came forward, adding that said that no one could read their reports and not say that it was abuse and neglect.

While calling out the Church and Galway County Council, she said that the ultimate responsibility "lies with a State that did not provide women with alternatives, that did not prosecute rape, that did not provide them with contraceptives, and that acted in a deferential way to a Church that used its power and was allowed to use its power to abuse others".

As part of her speech, she made a personal apology on behalf of the State and said that "we must be judged by our actions".

She called for Galway County Council to make an apology for the huge part that it played and the Minister, Roderic Gorman, said that he agreed with his colleague that that would be appropriate and that other local authorities could follow this lead. "Tuam is highlighted over and over. Nearly 1,000 people died and as we are all well aware that they were shown no dignity in death.

"Their families continue to have no closure, with scant records and no tracing having been carried out. The conditions were among the worst in the country. This was an institution run by nuns, but also by the local authority.

Politicians had to know

"When Galway County Council meets on January 25, I expect to hear a full apology and to hear how it will even attempt to make amends. It held council meetings on those grounds. No one can tell me that those politicians did not know of the appalling conditions.

"This report shows that at the time the high death rates were known. I expect the same of other councils. Without the actions of Catherine Corless, no action would now be taking place."

During the debate the Minister called out the language used in parts of the summary of the report of the independent report but said that the testimonies stood out.

Several commitments were outlined by the government, including a commitment to have access to birth records, starting with the records that the Minister saved from the Commission.

Legislation to grant birth certs and birth information is to be brought forward in late Spring, but much of the information will be available before legislation is passed, starting on March 1. Specialised medical cards and financial redress are to be given.

Legislation for a dignified exhumation of those who died in Tuam has already been drafted and Minister O'Gorman has asked that this be brought to the Oireachtas Committee on Children as soon as possible, and has said that all actions now taken by the government must have a "survivor centred approach".

A number of other measures are all to be taken including putting parts of the report on to the curriculum of secondary schools, putting together an archive that can be added to over time as survivors come forward, an examination of the report by the Gardaí, and a special fund for those living in disadvantage now in the State.

Senator O'Reilly said "Words are not enough, anger is not enough. Action must also be taken and on behalf of the Green Party, we will be a part of that action. The State owes a debt and we must repay it," she concluded.


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