Tuesday 20 August 2019

Phoenix Park suggested as location for Mother and Baby institution monument

Independent minister Katherine Zappone (Niall Carson/PA)
Independent minister Katherine Zappone (Niall Carson/PA)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE Phoenix Park is being suggested as the location for a national monument to so-called Mother and Baby Homes.

It comes as the recommendations of the Collaborative Forum which includes women and children who experienced the institutions have been published.

The government has promised to bring in a package of health and well-being supports for survivors as well as to consider amendments to adoption legislation and develop a memorialisation programme.

Survivors this afternoon spoke of how they don’t want the former predominantly Church-run facilities for mothers and babies to be called homes, and said that instead they should be referred to as “institutions".

Members of the Forum expressed frustration that their full report won’t be published until after the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby homes delivers its delayed report next year.

It made a number of recommendations on memorialisation.

Phoenix Park
Phoenix Park

They include bringing in a module on Mother and Child Institutions in the history curriculum in schools as well as a National Monument to “respect and honour mothers and children held in these institutions”.

One Forum member, Samantha Long, who chaired the sub-committee on memorialisation said there had been a consensus during discussions that the National Monument should be in the Phoenix Park.

Children minister Katherine Zappone said that the government will develop proposals for a package of health and well-being supports for survivors.

Health minister Simon Harris will lead this process and a working group is to report to government 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.

The amendments would be designed to provide the greatest possible release of birth information to adopted people.

Ms Zappone said she is also developing a memorialisation programme including a scheme to fund permanent memorials in the vicinity of mother and baby institutions and a national memorial.

A report on burial arrangements at the institutions is to be published tomorrow.

The Commission of Investigation, chaired by judge Yvonne Murphy, was set up in 2015 after the revelations about the Tuam Mother and Baby home where the remains of hundreds of infants were discovered.

It was due to report in February but it sought an extension of a year due to the volume of material it is working through.

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