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Early warnings in searingly painful report show this catastrophe didn’t need to endure

Nicola Anderson


The vulnerable suffered unnecessarily before getting answers, writes Nicola Anderson

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Paying respects: A woman at the Tuam mother and baby home site. Photo: Ray Ryan

Paying respects: A woman at the Tuam mother and baby home site. Photo: Ray Ryan

Paying respects: A woman at the Tuam mother and baby home site. Photo: Ray Ryan

By rights, they should have been the healthiest children in all the land. There was no logical explanation as to why they should not have been since they were, after all, ‘in care’.

Yet, just a little over a decade after the mother and baby homes system had first been established, the original whistle-blower was already warning of grave catastrophe. As far back as 1939, we knew – but we did not act.

“The chance of survival of an illegitimate infant born in the slums and placed with a foster-mother in the slums a few days after birth, is greater than that of an infant born in one of our special homes for unmarried mothers,” declared Alice Litster, inspector for boarded-out children in the Department of Local Government and Public Health, in her report that year. “


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