President Higgins says Tuam findings expose a "hidden Ireland"

He also commended local historian, Catherine Corless on all the work she had done

President Higgins says Tuam findings expose a "hidden Ireland"

President Higgins. Image:

President Michael D Higgins has called the recent findings of human remains in Tuam, a necessary step in "blowing open the locked doors of a hidden Ireland". 

Speaking at a reception to celebrate International Women’s Day 2017, President Higgins dedicated some time in his speech to the recent findings in Tuam.

Mr Higgins said "there are dark shadows that hang over our meeting, shadows that require us all to summon up yet again a light that might dispel the darkness to which so many women and their children were condemned, and the questions left unanswered as we moved on.

"The recent horrifying revelations of a mass grave of babies in Tuam, discovered as a result of the relentless work of local historian, Catherine Corless, is another necessary step in blowing open the locked doors of a hidden Ireland.

"We are challenged to consider how the reprehensible attitudes that were held towards so called “unmarried women” and so-called “illegitimate babies” came to be held.

"May I commend the work of Catherine Corless and others who have continued to ask the questions that are important if we are to face the truth of what prevailed and ensure the rightful question put by women who had direct experience of institutions.

"So many questions remain and I hope the commission of inquiry will serve to put the truth on the record in a way that respects the memory of these children, their families, and their mothers in particular."

Women's rights

President Higgins then turned his attention to domestic violence and the issue of women's rights "Domestic violence is an outright negation of the dignity and the rights of women.

"Our collective journey towards the full enjoyment of women’s rights will never be complete if those abuses of the gravest sort are tolerated, if silence is allowed to prevail around them. 

"We must acknowledge that men can also be victims of similar crimes, perpetrated by women or by other men. However, it is clear that the perpetrators are predominantly men and the victims predominantly women.

"It is fitting, therefore, to acknowledge this issue on International Women’s Day and it is appropriate to celebrate your efforts and the contribution that you make to the lives of so many.

President Higgins finished by saying "Today is a day of celebration, celebration of what is possible, and celebration of a new relationship between men and women, forged by those, like yourselves, who are contributing your transformative energy, your sense of justice and your power of care to our society."