Sunday 18 August 2019

Mother and baby home survivors forced to wait for detailed report

Minister Katherine Zappone. Picture: Paul Sharp
Minister Katherine Zappone. Picture: Paul Sharp
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Survivors of mother and baby homes have expressed frustration that a report that includes powerful testimony of harrowing experiences in the institutions won't be published in full until next year.

The recommendations of the Collaborative Forum of former residents have been released including calls for health supports for survivors and a national monument.

But on legal advice to the Government, the full report won't be published until a delayed Commission of Investigation concludes its work in February 2020.

This delay was described as a "matter of genuine regret" in a foreword to the recommendations signed by Forum members Susan Lohan, Conrad Bryan and Samantha Long. They said their "deepest wish" is for the report to be published at the earliest opportunity.

Mr Bryan said in the absence of this he wanted to outline the impact the institutions had on the health of survivors.

He told of one women who had been raped, became pregnant, ended up in one of the institutions and had a difficult birth. As the now-elderly woman put it she was left "a completely broken person" with long-term health impacts including stress and numerous operations.

Mr Bryan also outlined the experience of a child - also now elderly - who lived in a similar 'county home'.

There was a mortuary and the individual has flashbacks of seeing dead bodies.

They also remember being put to work on a farm at the age of six or seven and have ongoing health issues they attribute to their time in the institution.

Terri Harrison, a member of the Forum, whose child was given up for adoption against her will, said survivors like her endure a "living bereavement".

"When our children were taken from us, we had to learn to live with that and that's what we do to this day," she said.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said the Government will develop proposals for a package of health and well-being supports for survivors. A working group is to report by September in time for measures to be included in Budget 2020.

She said she is proposing to amend key provisions of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill to take account of issues raised by the Forum.

She is also developing a memorial programme which will include a scheme for funding.

Forum recommendations included bringing in a module on mother and child institutions in the schools' history curriculum as well as the creation of a national monument. One location suggested for this is the Phoenix Park.

Irish Independent

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