Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has paid tribute in the Dáil to survivors who shared their stories with the Mother and Baby Homes Commission and urged the Government to ensure it finally does the right thing by them.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta Funchion said:
“I want to pay tribute to and commend all of the women and children, many now adults, who heroically came forward and shared their stories. Who fought with courage and determination and who did not give up.
“Over the past number of years I have had the privilege of getting to know many people who are survivors of mother and baby homes, some women who had their babies stolen and some children born into the homes who were denied a relationship with their birth mother.
“Through many conversations I have had with them, one common message always rings through; nobody within the state was willing to listen to them, when forced into these institutions and since then they have been failed on many occasions by this state including this government.
“Mother and baby homes were not ‘homes’ they were detention centres. A home is somewhere you are supposed to feel safe, loved and protected. Not a place where you are tortured, imprisoned and forced to give birth in the most appalling conditions – often without medical support or even basic pain relief.
“These walls hid torture, deprivation and humiliation on a colossal scale. Human rights did not exist in these centres. As a mother, a daughter, a sister and an Irish citizen I cannot countenance this cruelty.
“When will we learn that survivors need to be listened to, they don’t need our sympathy, they need and they deserve our action. Survivors need assurances that their rights are vindicated, especially their right to unconditional access to birth certificates irrespective of their status of birth.
“And for their families they need a clear and statutory right to their own ‘care’ or adoption file and to records concerning a family member who died in ‘care’ or adoption.
“It is my fervent wish that the courage shown by survivors in coming forward is now met by meaningful action by government.
The state has failed you.
The state didn’t listen.
The state didn’t care.
The state turned a blind eye.
The state must now accept responsibility and come good for survivors.”