Wednesday 13 December 2017

Editorial: Time is of the essence in baby homes investigation

Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan. Photo: PA
Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan. Photo: PA

The Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan has moved with commendable speed to establish a proper Commission of Investigation into mortality rates and related issues such as adoptions and vaccination trials at state-established mother and baby homes, which were largely staffed by orders of nuns and were in existence from the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s.

This is a mammoth task and it now seems that tens of thousands of mothers and babies were confined to these homes. While it is important to shine a light on what is now called "a dark period" of our history, the commission may be able to take a more dispassionate view of what exactly happened at these homes, taking into account the circumstances of the time and the widespread political and social desire for such institutions.

Of course those of us lucky to live reasonably prosperous lives in the 21st Century can afford to look back with a certain amount of outrage at a moral and political solution adopted by the new state to what was perceived as the 'problem' of girls and women who became pregnant outside of marriage. While an investigation may show a very different picture of a very different time, it is still imperative that we find out why death rates and infant mortality were so high at these homes.

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