9000 baby deaths at church-run homes: Irish PM sorry for 'profound wrong'

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Jan 13, 2021, 11.06 PM(IST)

Tens of thousands of women, including rape victims, were sent to the mother and baby homes to give birth. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The 3,000-page report, which covered 18 so-called Mother and Baby Homes where young pregnant women were hidden from society for decades, is the latest in a series of government-commissioned papers that have laid bare some of the Catholic Church’s darkest chapters.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin on Wednesday formally apologised for the treatment of unmarried women and their babies in state and church-run homes after a report by an independent commission said that Thousands of children have died in these homes during the 20th century.

"About 9,000 children died in the institutions under investigation — approximately 15% of all the children who were in the institutions," said a final report of an inquiry into the mother-and-baby homes.

The 3,000-page report, which covered 18 so-called Mother and Baby Homes where young pregnant women were hidden from society for decades, is the latest in a series of government-commissioned papers that have laid bare some of the Catholic Church’s darkest chapters.

"'I was told by a nun: 'God doesn't want you... 'You're dirt'," reads one widely cited portion of evidence.

"In the personal testimonies of how many women ended up in these institutions, the priest, the doctor and the nun loom large," Martin said on Wednesday.

"The sense of oppression, even at this distance, is overwhelming."

Children died from "respiratory infections and gastroenteritis" at alarming rates, which were officially recorded at the time. 

They were sometimes buried in unmarked graves.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, the head of the Irish Catholic Church, also apologized to survivors of church-run homes.

"I accept that the Church was clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, judged and rejected," he said in a statement.

"For that, and for the long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted, I unreservedly apologize to the survivors and to all those who are personally impacted by the realities it uncovers."

According to the commission, there were 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children in the mother and baby homes as well as county homes with the majority of admissions taking place in the 1960s and early 1970s.

(With inputs from agencies)

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