Mother and Baby Home recommendations 'not based on what was told' - Connolly

An Independent TD has criticised the Government's handling of the Mother and Baby Homes report, a...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.06 18 Jan 2021

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Mother and Baby Home recommend...

Mother and Baby Home recommendations 'not based on what was told' - Connolly

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.06 18 Jan 2021

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An Independent TD has criticised the Government's handling of the Mother and Baby Homes report, as well as the report itself.

It is almost a week on since the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was published.

It highlighted the 'particularly harsh treatment' that women who gave birth outside marriage were subject to.


The commission said the harsh treatment was "supported by, contributed to, and condoned by, the institutions of the State and the Churches" - but that some of the institutions offered a 'harsh refuge' when many families provided 'no refuge at all'.

It found that around 9,000 children died in the institutions under investigation - or around 15% of all the children in the institutions - and described the mortality rate among children born in several of the homes as 'appalling'.

It showed there were seven vaccine trials in the homes between 1934 and 1973 involving a number of children, that were not in compliance "with the relevant regulatory and ethical standards of the time".

Independent TD for Galway-West, Catherine Connolly, told Newstalk Breakfast testimonies in the report are not presented in their entirety.

"They have a chapter on witness testimony - they tell us that that's limited: one because it's only a small representative group which is important to say, and secondly because the evidence is contaminated".

"The evidence is contaminated - why? Because the former residents spoke to each other."

She said it is confusing as a 2012 memo, which highlighted some concerns, is addressed at the beginning of the report - as are the recommendations.

"They are confusing - some of them are good, some of them are unacceptable - but the point being that it's utterly confusing when you read the recommendations because they've mixed the recommendations with commentary."

"Where do we go to now? We start this week with a full discussion - there isn't even enough time this week.

"Then we look at the testimonies and they're paraphrased, they're reduce to small little sentences and the full testimonies of the women and men that came forward are not there.

"The conclusions, the recommendations … they're not based on what was told".

"The Commission said people will be disappointed because we are not going with the prevailing narrative - in fact, what they did was precisely go with the prevailing narrative, ignore the testimony and said 'all society was to blame'.

"And the conclusions that they make are just not connected with the testimony, so I have to ask myself: who are we to believe here?"

She also suggested that an independent, qualified body with psychological background should examine the testimonies in full.

'A full discussion'

She said what should happen is to "take the best of it, you take the recommendations that are good and that you can use".

She said this should include immediate legislation to allow access to personal records and details.

"Most of all, we need to hear from the survivours when they have finished reading this 1,000 page report".

She said comments she made about the report last week were not strong enough.

"The Government had this since last October, the Tánaiste read it during the Christmas - I don't know what other member of the Government read it during the Christmas - then last Tuesday, I finally got a copy at 4 o'clock in the afternoon [and] did my best in relation to my contribution on Wednesday."

"We need a full discussion of the contents of this report, that's the first thing.

"We need an explanation as to how it was leaked, and most importantly why the survivours were not given a hard copy".

"I have looked at it, and actually my comments weren't strong enough last week.

"I have not read the full report, it is 1,000 pages.

"I have read the executive summary, which is a couple of hundred of pages, and I've read a number of the chapters.

"For example on vaccines, on race, on Tuam.

"I've done little else but look at this report: so just to put it in perspective, it is impossible to read it in the time given".

Main image: Catherine Connolly is seen during a Public Accounts Committee hearing in 2017. Picture by: Eamonn Farrell/

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Catherine Connolly Commission Of Investigation Into Mother And Baby Homes Final Report Independent TD For Galway-West Mother And Baby Homes Newstalk Breakfast

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