AN independent senator has called for a national voluntary collection to feature within the redress package for survivors of Ireland’s brutal mother and baby home regime.
Senator Rónán Mullen believes the people of Ireland “all have a connection to the story” of these institutions, where many thousands of unwed mothers were sent to have their babies between 1922 and 1998.
The reality of life for the women and children incarcerated in these homes, which operated under a “brutal and misogynistic culture”, were revealed last month when the long-awaited report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was released.
The document, at more than 2,800 pages long, confirms that around 56,000 women gave birth to 57,000 children in the homes investigated by the Commission in their 76 years of operation.
Of those 57,000 children, 9,000 died while under the care of those in charge of the homes-- approximately 15 per cent.
The report also features the first-hand testimonies of many survivors, revealing the brutality, cruelty and neglect faced on a daily basis.
Following the release of the report, Senator Mullen said it painted “a sad and sobering picture of how women and children were failed by State, and by wider society, including in institutions run by the religious orders, and by the Church in Ireland, which did much to mould, and was itself moulded by, Irish society”.
He went on to suggest a national collection could provide an opportunity for the public to give something back to the many women wronged by the State and the Catholic Church.
“We should perhaps consider, as we ponder the case for redress, and how it might be organised and who should contribute, whether it would be appropriate to have some kind of national voluntary contribution as part of a redress package to reflect the social and community dimension to this story, along with Church and State contributions,” he said.
“We are all connected with families who are in some way a part of this story,” he added.
Senator Mullen also questioned whether it would be possible for people in the country to “make peace with our past, with those who were wronged, with our forebears in our families, with the modern inheritors of State and Church bodies that were involved.”