Final report on Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is one of ‘deflation’

By Maurice Garvey

THE prevailing reaction to the 2,865-page final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes has been one of “deflation” and a “whitewashing’ of the evidence, according to countless survivors who spoke out this week, reports Maurice Garvey.

The Commission’s Terms of Reference cover the period 1922 – 1998, a period which saw massive improvements in living conditions and attitudes in the country.

David Kinsella at St Patricks2 1

David Kinsella at St Patrick’s

Taoiseach Micheál Martin apologised, in a live broadcast on RTÉ, on behalf of the State to the survivors of mother-and-baby homes in the Dáil on Wednesday [yesterday].

The report, which is the result of a five-year investigation, found “an appalling level of infant mortality” in the homes over a 76-year period, with 9,000 deaths, and also said the proportion of women admitted to Ireland’s mother-and-baby homes was probably the highest in the world in the 20th Century.

During a webinar on Tuesday with over 500 survivors in attendance, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he was sorry for what happened to the women who entered these homes and the children who were born there.

One such child born in St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on the Navan Road, was Clondalkin resident David Kinsella, who was “shocked” at the findings.

He said: “It said that vaccine trials didn’t do any harm, but medical records I have prove I got a BCG vaccine at the age of four and that I was hospitalised six times during my time there. The vaccines did cause harm. We were guinea pigs.”

Kinsella never saw his birth mother Elizabeth McEniff again, and tried and failed to track down his father via the HSE – whom he believes was a “John Kelly from the North Strand area”.

“They always came back with the same response, that they are not to issue any further documentation.”

The Daughters of Charity, which ran St Patrick’s on the Navan Road, point out that many of their sisters dedicated their lives to supporting women to have their babies in secret.

Other survivors like Noelle Brown claimed there were at least ten inaccuracies in the transcript of her testimony.

Kinsella, who was at the webinar, says he does not want to “retraumatize myself” should he be asked to go back and stand before a committee to hear testimony he gave the Commission in 2015.

“A famous saying in AA is ‘half-measures never avail of anything’ as we now stand at a turning point,” he said.

“I am glad to see redress is on the table, we have to wait until the Inter-Departmental Committee is set up at the end of June.”

Clondalkin Cllr Francis Timmons, who spent time in Madonna House and was involved in vaccine trials, said a state apology without action is “no use” for survivors.

“I didn’t know much about the trials. I asked GSK and got redacted files back. In some of my records, dated August 1973, my mother came to visit me in Madonna House and complained that I was malnourished. I had limited contact with my mother, nuns were always present. Luckily I got to spend time with her before she died at the Mater Hospital. She did nothing wrong.”

The National Counselling Service has been asked to provide counselling to former residents through its counselling locations.

For information on available supports and information on how to access the HSE live team, call 1800 817 517, Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

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