Bessborough Mother-and-Baby Home, Ireland

Information about Inquiry into Mother-and-Baby Homes

IWSSN is currently monitoring the Inquiry into Irish Mother-and-Baby Homes, which will be chaired by Justice Yvonne Murphy. As the Inquiry progresses, Survivors may wish to give evidence about their experiences of such homes. The Whispering Hope Centre can assist Survivors who are contemplating providing evidence and can advise anyone seeking general information about this Inquiry.

Background

In June 2014, a mass grave in a concrete tank was found at convent-run Mother-and-Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway. The discovery of the remains of 800 children sparked shock and concern about the high number of deaths at this particular home, especially as not all of the deaths had been properly recorded.

After these findings, Survivors, Survivor groups and human rights organisations lobbied the Irish government to investigate the conditions and practices at Mother-and-Baby Homes. The government agreed to an investigation and that would not just look at the home in Tuam, because over the last century Ireland had Mother-and-Baby Homes across the country. The Tuam home was one of 10 institutions to which about 35,000 unmarried pregnant women are thought to have been sent.

The government inquiry

In September 2014, it was announced that the Inquiry would be chaired by Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy and in January 2015, the Terms of Reference for a Commission of Investigation into Mother-and-Baby Homes was approved.

The main details include:

  • The inquiry will last for 36 months;
  • An Independent Commission is being be set-up;
  • The investigation will cover the period from 1922 to 1998 but the Commission may consider evidence from outside of this range;
  • The Commission will create a Confidential Committee to provide a confidential forum for Survivors to give evidence, or for those who worked in the institutions;
  • 14 institutions would be investigated (please see list at the end of this article).

The areas the Commission will investigate includes:

  • The entry and exit pathways of those resident in the homes;
  • The living conditions and care arrangements;
  • Mortality amongst mothers and children at the homes;
  • Post-mortem practices and procedures;
  • Extent of compliance with relevant regulatory and ethical standards of the time with regards to vaccine trials;
  • Arrangements for the entry of children;
  • Exit pathways for children;
  • The practices and procedures for placement of children in Ireland or abroad;
  • Extent to which any group of residents may have systematically been treated differently on any grounds (such as religion, race, traveller identity or disability).

Getting in touch

If you (as a child or mother) were resident in a Mother-and-Baby Home in Ireland, and would like to find out more about the Inquiry or about giving evidence, please feel free to contact us by calling 0207 267 9997 or emailing info@irishsurvivorsuk.org.uk.

Currently, the Inquiry has not begun taking evidence, but we are keeping a record of individuals living in the UK that have experiences of the homes, so that when the opportunity arises to give evidence, we inform Survivors. Also, as we are a support service for Survivors living in the UK, we can provide free advice and support in a wide range of areas, so please contact us to find out if we can help you.

 

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Mother and Baby Homes to be investigated are as follows:

1) Ard Mhuire, Dunboyne, Co Meath;

2) Belmont (Flatlets), Belmont Ave, Dublin 4;

3) Bessboro House, Blackrock, Cork;

4) Bethany Home, originally Blackhall Place, Dublin 7 and from 1934 Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6;

5) Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home, Tuam, Co. Galway;

6) Denny House, Eglington Rd, Dublin 4, originally Magdalen Home, 8 Lower Leeson St, Dublin 2;

7) Kilrush, Cooraclare Rd, Co. Clare;

8) Manor House, Castlepollard, Co Westmeath;

9) Ms. Carr’s (Flatlets), 16 Northbrook Rd, Dublin 6;

10) Regina Coeli Hostel, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7, and

11) Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Co Tipperary;

12) St. Gerard’s, originally 39, Mountjoy Square, Dublin 1.

13) St. Patrick’s, Navan Road, Dublin 7, originally known as Pelletstown; and subsequent transfer to Eglington House, Eglington Rd, Dublin 4, and

14) The Castle, Newtowncunningham, Co. Donegal.