The Taoiseach has apologised on behalf of the State for the "profound generational wrong" against women and children in mother and baby homes.
Micheál Martin said the country embraced a "perverse religious morality and control", and highlighted the churches' 'dominant role' in the institutions.
He said the State failed the mothers and children who were sent to the homes.
He praised survivors for sharing their testimonies, and highlighted the pivotal role historian Catherine Corless played in uncovering the mass burial site at the former home in Tuam.
The Taoiseach's lengthy statement in the Dáil followed the publication of the final report of the mother and baby home's commission final report yesterday.
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Mr Martin said: "Reading the Commission’s findings and the report of the confidential committee the most striking thing is the shame felt by women who became pregnant outside of marriage and the stigma that was so cruelly attached to their children.
"In the earlier decades covered by the report, witness testimony describes how a dearth of sex education often left young women confused and unaware of how and why they had even become pregnant. Some of these pregnancies were as a result of rape or incest."
Apologising to victims, he said: "On behalf of the Government, the State and its citizens, I apologise for the profound generational wrong visited upon Irish mothers and their children who ended up in a Mother and Baby Home or a County Home.
"As the Commission says plainly - 'they should not have been there'.
"I apologise for the shame and stigma which they were subjected to and which, for some, remains a burden to this day."
He added that the report brings to light "significant failures of the State, the Churches and of society".
The Taoiseach pledged to respond to all recommendations made by the commission - including introducing 'information and tracing legislation as a priority' so survivors can have access to information about their birth.
Earlier, the Sisters of Bon Secours said they are willing to contribute to a redress scheme for survivors of Mother and Baby Homes.
The group, which ran a facility in Tuam, has also apologised for the unacceptable way children were buried there.
Yesterday's Commission of Investigation report recommended redress be provided to survivors of mother and baby homes, which could be either financial or in the form of services such as an ‘enhanced’ medical card.
The Taoiseach today pledged that card will be available to all former residents of the homes, while counselling is 'immediately available' for all former residents.