State and Church "bear heavy responsibility" of Mother and Baby Homes, says President Higgins 1 month ago

State and Church "bear heavy responsibility" of Mother and Baby Homes, says President Higgins

"In our times we should never forget the pain that was created."

The State and the Church "bear heavy responsibility" of the Mother and Baby Homes, President Michael D Higgins has said.

In a statement released today, the President said that the State must take "primary responsibility" for the treatment of the thousands of women and children who lived in the homes from 1922 to 1998.

He added that although the report is welcome, there is still much work left to do.

He said: "The Commission of Investigation's report reminds us of how far short Ireland fell of fulfilling the promise of our Republic, and of how, the violation of fundamental rights of our fellow citizens was condoned over an extended period of time. State and Church bear a heavy responsibility for this.

"As President of Ireland, I welcome the publication of the Commission's Report and the apologies offered, my thoughts must be, as they have been so often before, of the mothers and of the infants who died, with those children who survived and who continue to carry the trauma of their early lives, and beyond that the burden of being deprived of information about their birth parents; of all of those women, alive and dead, who have borne the scars of their experiences, the shame and secrecy imposed upon them, and the life-long burden for so many arising from trauma, bereavement or separation from their children."

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President Higgins went on to say that that the report follows others which detailed institutional abuse in Ireland and the culture of silence that promoted it.

He said that the State must bear the "primary responsibility" as it did not "safeguard the welfare of its most vulnerable citizens."

"It is important, too, to recognise, and with what consequences, how a newly independent State was captured by a judgemental, authoritarian version of Church/State relations that sought to be the sole and ultimate arbiter of morality," he said.

"Even as the State must acknowledge institutional failings and its culpability in allowing conditions to persist in these homes - conditions that contributed to unnecessarily high rates of infant mortality - so also must those religious, social forces, and professions who rejected a role for the State in the protection of mothers and babies be accountable for the absence of respect for citizens' rights that they allowed through their advocacy or collusion to prevail."

You can read the President's statement in full here.