The Survivor Community is not shocked by the latest news that hundreds of bodies of babies and children have been "discovered" at the site of the former Mother and Baby home at Tuam. This is something we have known for many years. What is shocking is that once again we have to learn of this news via the media. The communications skills of the Minister and the Commission of Inquiry leave a lot to be desired when it comes to informing the Survivor Community of developments.
Tuam must not be seen in isolation. It was the fifth biggest of the 9 so called "Mother and Baby Homes" and it is the tip of the iceberg for deaths which amount to at least 6,000 babies and children across the 9 homes". There are over 227 confirmed deaths in the notorious Bethany Home in Dublin and recent research has revealed the names of over 200 babies and children buried in the Angel's Plot at Castlepollard Mother and Baby home ranging from a few hours old to over 2 years. There were also at least 77 confirmed Stillbirths in Castlepollard above and beyond the 200 registered deaths. There will be hundreds of unregistered Stillbirths discovered in Tuam too above and beyond the 800 registered deaths. The worst is yet to come as details of the huge behemoths of Saint Patrick's, Bessboro and Sean Ross Abbey have yet to be revealed but it is likely that the total for these three "homes" alone will be well over 4,000 babies and children buried in shoeboxes and rags.
Our Community is divided about the issue of excavations and exhumations. Many are adamant that all the babies must be exhumed, identified and given proper burials. Others feel strongly that our former crib mates should be allowed to Rest In Peace. There are no easy answers and some survivors will be horrified no matter what happens. Mutual respect and understanding must guide our community.
The Government, Minister Zappone and the Inquiry must consider living survivors and their needs before any further excavations are pursued behind our backs. Our community is ageing and has been viciously cut in two by the current official policy of excluding many survivors from the Inquiry. Survivors need to be heard instead of ignored; consulted instead of insulted; treated with respect instead of learning the latest developments via the media.
May our crib mates in all the Mother and Baby homes and Holding Centers, Rest In Peace.
Chairperson: Coalition of Mother and Baby home Survivors (CMABS)
Paul Redmond was born in Castlepollard Mother and Baby home, transferred to Saint Patrick's Mother and Baby home in Dublin, and then adopted at 17 days old on mid winters day 1964. He has been an activist, campaigner and researcher in to Mother and Baby homes for several years and has founded 3 activist or support groups including Adoption Rights Now and the Castlepollard Mother and Baby home group.