Mother and Baby Home survivor's harrowing experience shows why state apology is not enough

Mother and Baby Home survivor's harrowing experience shows why state apology is not enough

A MOTHER and Baby Home survivor has opened up about the torment and abuse he suffered and why a state apology will not be enough to address the damage done. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin is due to issue an apology this Wednesday following the publication of a report that will show 9,000 children died across 18 Mother and Baby Homes across Ireland. 

However, Francis Timmons believes this kind of response will ring hollow unless it is backed up by action to bring those responsible to justice. 

Francis detailed his own harrowing experience in an interview with the Irish Mirror. 

One of three children born to an unmarried mother, his elder sister died of malnutrition at St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in the 1960s before he was even born. She was just three. 


Francis was born in 1971 and spent the first few years of his life at Madonna House in Blackrock. 

It was an institution run by the Sisters of Charity and one where he ended up being used in at least two clinical drug trials conducted by GlaxoSmithKline as a toddler, with little regard for his welfare. 

Even as he got older and was fostered along with his brother, Francis went on to suffer abuse at the hands of his foster carers. 

Now a councillor in west Dublin, Francis was eventually able to reconnect with his mother but she was a broken woman, left traumatised at having her children taken away from her. 

It was a trauma that not only impacted her mental health but led to years of addiction. 

She died, with Francis by her side, in January 2014. 

To this day, he has no idea where his older sister was buried.  


More than 2,000 Irish children were also trafficked to the US over three decades (Image: Archive)

On the eve of the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission's report, Francis told the Irish Mirror of the scars left by his own experience. 

“I wouldn’t say we came through it unscarred because we didn’t, I drank an awful lot and did lots of things that I probably wouldn’t have done,” he said. 

He also finds the idea that the places he resided in were “homes” as offensively incorrect. 

“A home has connotations of somewhere where you feel secure, safe, loved, proper meals, proper play time,” he said. 

Francis also believes there is “probably more” than 57,000 survivors still left alive in Ireland. Survivors that deserve answers and some modicum of justice. 


In the meantime, he has teamed up with fellow survivor Terri Harrison to establish a listening service and helpline for those affected. 

Society of Survivors will be open on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on 0858069925 and 0858069926. 

You can read the Irish Mirror’s full interview with Francis here.