Relatives are united in their search for the truth
TEDDIES and toys were carefully tied to the gates of the notorious former Bessborough mother and baby home in Cork as potent symbols of stolen innocence.
Mothers who lost babies and endured the cruelty of the regime wept openly.
Children who were adopted by other families away from their birth mothers sobbed as they struggled to imagine the horrors suffered inside the grim gates.
Now, mothers, children and relatives are united with one purpose – for the truth.
"This isn't a protest ... it is a campaign. We want the truth. We want justice to be done and we want Bessborough to be included in any inquiry," Helen Murphy said.
Helen was born at Bessborough and left the home when she was seven months old.
"We founded the Bessborough Mother and Baby Support Group as an outlet for all those whose lives were affected by this place," she said.
"The purpose of it is to remember the people who were there and especially the babies who died.
"But also to remember all of the mothers who gave birth there. We want to add our voice to the call for an inquiry. We want answers."
John Barrett (61), who was born at Bessborough in 1952, vowed that the fight for justice would never stop until the full truth was revealed.
"I consider those children buried in Bessborough, Tuam, Roscrea and Castlepollard to be my brothers and sisters," he said. "I want their voices to be heard."
Bessborough was notorious for the brutality of its regime. Mothers were refused pain-relief medications during birth as it was believed suffering would help "atone for their sin".
One nun forbade young mothers from crying out or moaning during child birth.
Mothers were also forced to wash floors with tiny brushes and cut the lawns with scissors.