Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis, speaking in Leinster House this week, called on support for the Sinn Féin motion to set up a truth commission which would establish the truth of what practices took place in Mother and Baby Homes and other institutions and called for other parties to support the bill.
Deputy Ellis said:
“The atmosphere and climate in these institutions was allowed due to this States failure. And let us remember who were in these institutions.; it was young women and children, young girls who, as Austin Clarke in his 1963 poem said, were left to ‘cook, sew, wash, dig, milk cows, clean stables and, twice a day, giving their babes the teat’.
“There have been many failures over the years in relation to how this State has dealt with the legacies of abdicating its responsibilities for the welfare of mothers and babies to religious organisations. The lack of overview and regulation, the failure of addressing concerns raised over the years as to what was happening in these homes and when it became more than apparent that there was serious abuses occurring and had occurred, the state stood frozen, silently wringing its hands and muttering platitudes while still doffing its cap to the religious who successfully evaded answering or taking responsibility for the actions of its members who carried out these abuses.
“At this moment, the State has to date failed to initiate a meaningful process that would help obtain the truth for survivors, nor has it provided a suitable forum that would allow the full story of these institutions and the system that underpinned them to be made public. Considering the long line of failure in regards to these institutions, we are introducing this Private Members Bill calling for a truth commission to be established to allow the state to break that cycle of failure and start the process of a truthful discourse of a shameful past.”