CNN HOST Christiane Amanpour has quizzed Micheál Martin over his response to the recently published Mother and Baby Homes report.
The 2,800-page report identified an "appalling level of infant mortality" at the homes with as many as 9,000 babies dying across the 18 institutions investigated.
First established in the 19th century, they housed women and girls who became pregnant outside of marriage.
Some of the institutions investigated were operated by the Catholic Church.
In the wake of the report, the Taoiseach issued a State apology to the victims of the Mother and Baby Homes system.
Martin condemned "how this country responded to the particular needs of single women and their children at a time when they most needed support and protection."
The response drew criticism in some quarters including from the veteran CNN anchor.
While much of the interview was spent discussing Ireland’s response to Covid-19 and the installment of Joe Biden as US President, Amanpour appeared eager to grill Martin on the report.
Displaying the famous front page of the Irish Examiner the day after the report’s release, which featured the names of just some of the children who died in those mother and baby homes, the British-Iranian journalist took Martin to task on the issue.
On the subject of the report, Amanpour revisited many of the damning findings including the alarming death toll and the fact many of the homes were state-funded and remained open until 1998.
The wounds of Ireland's past were reopened when a shocking report outlined abuses in Mother and Baby homes that were run by the Church. PM @MichealMartinTD has issued an apology and tells me the report reflected "a perverse moral code and perverse attitude toward sexuality." pic.twitter.com/SSKzwahYj2
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) January 22, 2021
“You did issue a formal apology,” she began.
“You described it as a ‘shameful chapter’ but there are many people who don't believe you went far enough, and made it sort of a whole-of-society issue, rather than the Church. Just tell me where you stand on this?”
Martin responded: “This was a shameful chapter in Ireland's history, and the Church bears a very heavy responsibility – as does the State."
“The state did not protect its citizens. It did not protect the mothers and it did not protect the children who were born in these homes. The very fact that women were stigmatised in such a way was appalling and shocking and had its roots in what I would call a perverse moral code, a perverse attitude to sexuality that is impossible to comprehend and did enormous damage to people"
“Actions speak louder than words,” he continued.
“We have to now do everything we possibly can in present day society to make amends and to make sure that the mothers and children involved have full access to information.”