We need to make sure this story does not fall out of the headlines and all of minds so that the survivors receive justice.
If you agree, I am asking you to email your TDs, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Children to let them know that there needs to be an inquest into the deaths.
If you need some help getting started, you’ll find a draft email template below
You can find out how to contact your TD here: whoismytd.com
Dear Deputy XXX
I and many other people are appalled at the contents of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report and the treatment of survivors both historically and in the past few months. It is essential that you ensure that the survivors get the justice owed to them. The Report contains 53 recommendations which should form the bare minimum of the government’s response.
As your constituent, I would like you to clarify how you are going to ensure the following occurs as soon as possible:
1. Redress: That a survivor-centred redress scheme is put in place, which encapsulates the scale and breadth of the wrong that was done by church and State. It needs to not only meet the financial needs of survivors, but also their health and social wellbeing which have all been compromised due to their past experience in a mother and baby home. At a minimum, it is imperative that survivors are given access to the HAAC (Health Amendment Act Card) which will provide them with an extensive range of medical services. It also needs to apply to the survivors of all homes and institutions, and regardless of how long they spent in these institutions. The Government must also learn from past mistakes when devising previous redress schemes, many of which have re-traumatised survivors while further eroding trust with State institutions.
2. Access to data: The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman needs to immediately establish proactive measures to grant survivors access to personal information about them, including state and religious order files. This system should be independently vetted by international data rights experts. Also, the Government need to expressly acknowledge that GDPR supersedes any Irish law in this matter.
3. Inquests: Under the Coroner’s Act (1962 (Revised Updated to 21 August 2020)), it is the duty of a coroner to hold an inquest where a body is found in their district where death may have occurred in a violent or unnatural manner or when a person dies in state custody or detention. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report records thousands of deaths which fit into this category, including cases of mass graves of children and infants. There is a legal obligation for inquests to be carried out for each of these deceased individuals, and the government needs to ensure the law is followed.
4. Mother and Baby Home sites: The Government and Local Authorities need to immediately secure all sites associated with these institutions to ensure that full forensic investigations can be carried out and the sites are preserved in accordance with wishes of survivors. This is especially urgent in the case of the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork where 923 children died but the burial place of only 64 children has been established. The Commission has found that some of the unaccounted-for 859 children are probably buried on the grounds. Unbelievably, there are planning applications for developments on this site, needless to say, they cannot be allowed to go ahead. The government can and should issue a compulsory purchase order for this site as it is a matter of national importance.
5. Commission for the Disappeared: The Government needs to establish a Commission for the Disappeared to help investigate and locate the people who were disappeared from the Mother and Baby Homes and from other state and religious institutions. The Mother and Baby Homes Commission report was advised not to help people find their disappeared relatives. This in itself is awful. The commission should have been set up to support survivors, not further traumatise them and further deny them justice. We need to right this wrong.
6. Research: The Mother and Baby Homes Commission was established after the work of local historian Catherine Corless revealed the hundreds of deaths of children at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. The government should direct the unspent money from the Commission’s allocated budget and additional resources to fund research by local historians, academics, and human rights experts into all relevant institutions. The Commission only investigated 18 Homes. There is a clear and moral obligation for the government to facilitate the investigation of the other Mother and Baby institutions and county homes, as well as industrial schools, institutions for people with disabilities, and psychiatric institutions.
Thank you for your engagement on this serious and urgent matter. I look forward to your response.