McDonald: Some findings of mother and baby homes report 'don't tally' with survivors' stories


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

09.08 14 Jan 2021


Share this article


The Sinn Féin leader says she has reservations about some of the findings in the mother and baby homes report.

Mary Lou McDonald says parts of the commission's report 'don't tally' with the stories and testimonies of the affected women and their adopted children.

The long-awaited report was released earlier this week, and the Taoiseach yesterday made a formal State apology for the way women and children were treated in the homes.

The report found that around 9,000 children died in the homes, and many are buried in unmarked graves.

However, it said there was little evidence of forced adoptions and no widespread instances of physical abuse

Deputy McDonald told Newstalk Breakfast she's still working through the lengthy report, but that she certainly has reservations about some of what she's seen so far.

The report said a number of women made clear that they do not feel their consent for their child to be adopted was 'full, free and informed' and that they felt they had no alternative.

However, the report states "with the exception of a small number of legal cases, there is no evidence that this was their view at the time of the adoption".

It also found that "there is no evidence of the sort of gross abuse that occurred in industrial schools" when it comes to the mother and baby homes.

Deputy McDonald said she has reservations about those particular findings, although stressed it's with 'all due respect' to those who worked on the commission.

She said: “I have a very jaundiced view of some of it - for me the assertion that there was no such thing as forced adoptions is just not true. It doesn’t tally with so many of the stories I’ve heard… it doesn’t add up.

“The assertion that there was no abuse I think stands in stark contradiction to much of the testimony from the women."

The Sinn Féin leader also suggested it's 'problematic' that the report and members of the Government sought to "apportion 'blame' in a number of different directions, and to Irish society as a whole".

She said there's no doubt that everyone let women and girls down "very badly", but that the institutions operated under the watch of the State.

She also said the churches 'need to carry their load' when it comes to redress for survivors.

Deputy McDonald said the Taoiseach 'sincerely expressed sorrow and regret' in his apology yesterday.

However, she suggested the 'deliberate leak' of parts of the report before publication did not 'foster a good environment'.

Next steps

The focus will now turn to the actions taken in response to the report, and Deputy McDonald said that needs to happen 'very, very quickly' and in consultation with survivors.

She said: “You will remember a number of short weeks ago when there was a huge controversy that the Government would seal the archives of the mother and baby homes… public opinion prevailed. But the reality is people face the most enormous obstacles in accessing their own personal files… that needs to stop.”

She acknowledged there are “different views” on what needs to happen in terms of legislation to allow for such access to data - but whatever is needed has to happen quickly.

Meanwhile, she said the issues around memorialisation at burial sites of infants at sites such as the former home in Tuam need to be resolved.

She noted there are other sites where parents and relatives don't know precisely where their child or relative is buried, and that's 'agonising' for people.

In terms of financial support and redress, Deputy McDonald suggested the State cannot take a narrow view of what's needed.

She added: "I think there needs to be a full assessment of those affected by these horrific abuses, and then an effective and efficient scheme to assist and support.

"I’m not going to use the word compensate, because I don’t know how you compensate a mother for taking her child."

Main image: File photo of Mary Lou McDonald. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Share this article


Read more about

Mary Lou McDonald Mother And Baby Homes

Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

Best Of Newstalk

Best Of Newstalk

00:00-06:00

Share

Up next

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

BREAKFAST BRIEFING

06:00-06:30

Share

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

06:30-07:00

Share

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

NEWSTALK BREAKFAST

07:00-09:00

Share

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

THE PAT KENNY SHOW

09:00-12:00

Share

LUNCHTIME LIVE

LUNCHTIME LIVE

12:00-14:00

Share

MONCRIEFF

MONCRIEFF

14:00-16:00

Share

THE HARD SHOULDER

THE HARD SHOULDER

16:00-19:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

19:00-22:00

Share

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

THE TOM DUNNE SHOW

22:00-00:00

Share

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:00-06:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on