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‘I’ve never seen them apologise before’: Hero Tuam Mother and Baby Home historian Catherine Corless on apologies from religious orders

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11.01.21 Historian Catherine Corless standing at the site of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home where her research led to the setting up of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Photo Andy Newman

11.01.21 Historian Catherine Corless standing at the site of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home where her research led to the setting up of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Photo Andy Newman

11.01.21 Historian Catherine Corless standing at the site of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home where her research led to the setting up of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Photo Andy Newman

Tuam historian Catherine Corless has been hailed a “hero to this nation” by the Taoiseach for her work investigating the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

But she quickly dismisses the question when asked how she feels about that.

She only wanted to talk about what the apologies from the Bon Secours, Church leaders and the Government mean to survivors of Mother and Baby Homes.

“We are delighted, it was a surprise.

“No matter what they do, there will be a lot of people giving out about them and saying it’s too late.

“But, it’s not too late. I think it’s huge. I have never seen them apologise for anything before, especially the Bon Secours,” she told Independent.ie.

“They wouldn’t even talk to us or meet with any of the survivors. You couldn’t even get a phone call with them.”

She said when they wrote, they got “a standard few words” that they were cooperating with the inquiry - it was the same with the Bishop.

“I don’t know were they forced into doing it but we have it in writing. And I know it means a lot to some of the survivors.

“Even the Taoiseach’s speech today, I thought it was nice he said the words ‘it’s not your shame’, and they shouldn’t have any stigma.

“It doesn’t matter what other people think, they (the survivors) are the main people and it meant a lot to them.”

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Historian Catherine Corless watches Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaking during a Government webinar meeting for survivors and supporters of mother and baby homes. Photo: Reuters

Historian Catherine Corless watches Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaking during a Government webinar meeting for survivors and supporters of mother and baby homes. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

Historian Catherine Corless watches Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaking during a Government webinar meeting for survivors and supporters of mother and baby homes. Photo: Reuters

She said she wanted to see what would happen next and whether the Government will meet with the survivors.

“The Taoiseach mentioned about set up a forum to put some package together for survivors.

“But I don’t know those forums take a long time. It seems to be a long drawn out process,” she said.

“By now the Government know exactly what the survivors want.

“Knowing what the Government and the Church are like they are so distant and tight-lipped and they never really admit to anything.”

Corless said she is particularly pleased the Bon Secours have admitted they are responsible for the illegal burial of infant remains and the Tuam Children’s Home.

“I’m very happy with the apology from the Bon Secours. They have admitted they put the babies there.

“It’s good to have an apology and an acknowledgement from them that they are responsible.

“It’s a huge step.

“From the very beginning, all we were asking them to do was to take responsibility and admit what happened.

The survivors have an apology from the state, the church and the religious orders.That came today and it’s not too late.”

 

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