News Irish News

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Mother and baby home vigil calls for justice for 900 infants

Stunned by findings: Carmel Cantwell has called for further action
Stunned by findings: Carmel Cantwell has called for further action

Ralph Riegel

A protest vigil was staged outside a notorious mother and baby home demanding justice for the 900 babies who died there over almost seven decades.

Campaigners organised the candlelit Bessborough protest amid fury over an interim report by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, which said excavations at the Cork site were simply not feasible.

Of the 900 babies who died at Bessborough, less than 70 have known or marked graves. Campaigner Carmel Cantwell warned that it was simply unacceptable to leave the situation as it stands.

Ms Cantwell was stunned to discover from the interim report that her baby brother, William, was not in fact buried at Bessborough as they had been told for years - but was interred at Carr's Hill cemetery on the outskirts of Cork city, which was once used as a famine graveyard.

"It is such a huge number (of baby graves) - where are they? You cannot just leave this as it is," she said.

"You have to go on and find the truth. The minister (Katherine Zappone) must be called out. Justice has to prevail. She simply cannot end the investigation here.

"She has the power to do something further about it - she must do it."

Ms Cantwell's brother William died in December 1960 aged just six weeks. He had been transferred to St Finbarr's Hospital in Cork where he died.

Of the almost 70 Bessborough baby graves that are known about or are at marked sites, almost all involve children transferred to Cork hospitals where they subsequently died.

The Bessborough site in the 1950s extended to over 200 acres. However, large plots have since been sold off and the site now comprises 60 acres. Excavation of the infant graves was deemed unfeasible after the minister said there were no indications of major burial sites and no indications of disturbed earthworks.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News