Some 9,000 children have died in Church of Ireland walk-in homes for unborn mothers, a government report published on Tuesday found. This is equivalent to 15 percent of all children who were born or lived in institutions in about 80 years.
The 3,000-page report described emotional and even physical abuse, with some women being held in so-called mother and child homes.
“It appears that a little kindness was shown to them and this was especially the case when they were giving birth,” it said.
Powered by homes, nuns and members of the Roman Catholic Church, many operated for most of the 20th century in Ireland, with the last house closed as recently as 1998. They received state funds and also acted as adoption agencies.
The report found responsibility for the harsh treatment of women who had given birth primarily outside of marriage to children and fathers of their own families. However, it states that the treatment was supported, supported and supported by state institutions and churches.
According to anonymous accounts, women who gave birth were sometimes “verbally humiliated, humiliated, and even slapped.”
“We did it for ourselves, we treated women exceptionally badly,” Ireland Taosich, or Prime Minister, Michelle Martin, told reporters Tuesday afternoon after the report was released. “All societies were involved in it.”
The report noted very high rates of infant mortality in households, calling it “perhaps the most unqualified feature of these institutions”.
In the first years of the 1960s, it was said, mother and child homes did not save the lives of “illegitimate” children – instead they significantly reduced their chances of survival.
It did not include an explanation for such a high rate of mortality.
Martin said that the report suggests that there should be “significant failures of the state of society” and a catalyst for social change.
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The Commission of Mother and Baby Homes, which conducted a five-year inquiry, also noted allegations that some children in the homes had been used in vaccine tests without parental consent for their participation.
The report identified seven such vaccine trials, including the “number of children” that occurred in maternal-child homes from 1934 to 1973.
Before being adopted by a family in Philadelphia in 1961, a resident of one of the homes spoke with NBC News and said he was used to a house in Cork as a “guinea pig” for vaccines.
The report stated that consent was not obtained from the children’s mothers or their guardians and did not have the necessary licenses during the trial.
Mother and child homes take women who had become pregnant out of wedlock, taboo in the Orthodox country, and were seen as attempting to preserve the devout Catholic image of the country. Irish politicians and survivors say the houses are now said goodbye to a black chapter in the nation’s history.
An amateur local historian, Catherine Corless, first highlighted the issue of malnutrition in homes.
He discovered an unmarked mass cemetery in Tuam in the western counties of Galway, which prompted an investigation that uncovered the remains of at least 700 children buried from 1925 to 1961, a report found in 2017.
Ahead of the publication, details of the report were leaked to the media, sparking outrage from the victims – including mother-and-baby home survivor Philomena Lee, whose story was featured in a 2013 film, featuring Dame Doody Was starring Dench.
Ireland has traditionally been a Catholic stronghold, but decades of abuse scandals have damaged the church’s reputation and weakened its influence.
Pope Francis apologized for the mother and baby home scandal in 2018 during his first People’s Visit to the country in nearly four decades.
Although financial compensation for survivors was not explicitly outlined in the report, the government said it would create a fund for children who still experience losses as a result of the institutions.
Martin is due to issue a formal apology to the victims on behalf of the state on Wednesday.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Helena Skinner has contributed.