Hundreds attend silent vigils that express horror of a nation
Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30
HUNDREDS of people gathered in silence in Galway last night to express their horror at the deaths of almost 800 children in the Tuam Mother and Baby's home.
Tiny white paper cut-outs of 796 children, starkly labelled by number, were draped along the gates of the children's playground in Eyre Square in Galway.
The vigil heard statements read from JP Rodgers who lived at the home, and historian Catherine Corless who discovered the records of the deaths. Song and poems were also shared.
Among those who gathered in Galway was Grainne Tonga who travelled with friends from Westport. Ms Tonga was born in the Bessborough Home. Despite suffering from a hereditary blood disease, she has been denied her records, including her medical history, from the home.
"I have two daughters and for their sake I wanted to get as much medical history as I could. I wrote to Bessborough and explained how important the records were for me but they refused," she said.
Independent Cllr Catherine Connolly also attended the vigil to stand "in solidarity and show our voice won't be silenced".
Rachel Donnelly of Galway Pro-Choice, which organised the vigil, received a round of applause when she called for a separation of Church and State in Ireland.
She said they wanted to register their shock and upset at the revelations which were emerging from the home. They also wished to show their support for survivors.
In Dublin, scores of children's shoes, teddy bears and flowers were hung from railings around the Dail in memory of dead infants.
Hundreds of people, including some adopted out of homes, joined a candlelit vigil in the capital.
Some left poignant messages on babygrows draped on the iron railings. One read: "For the babies we hold in our hearts and not in our arms" and another "For the mothers, the love and support you never had is here today".
Two seven-year-old girls handed ministers a petition signed by 30,000 people demanding a judge lead the inquiry into the institutions. Dasha Klyaritskaya-Hilliard and her friend, Juliette Bruce Merzouk, from Dublin, took the message on behalf of people in more than a dozen countries who joined an online campaign urging the Government to escalate investigations.
Cavan Women's Network also organised a candlelit vigil in solidarity with all women who were forced to give their babies up for adoption.