A commission of inquiry into the homes for single mothers scandal in Ireland has revealed 9,000 children deaths in these establishments that have been run for decades by Catholic care, according to a report released Tuesday.
Prime Minister Michael Martin announced that he would present “apologies” from the Irish state in the context of this case, which shed light on the “alarming” death rates in these institutions that lasted until 1998.
“It is difficult to imagine the scale of the tragedy and the pain behind this number of 9,000 children and infants,” said Irish Minister of Children Roderic O’Gorman.
Once run by nuns in Ireland, these homes receive girls and young women who have been abandoned by their families. Children born there were considered illegal and were often separated from their mothers and then put up for adoption, severing all ties with their biological families.
This committee was created to discover the cause of the high level of child deaths in these former institutions in Catholic Ireland, between 1922 and 1998.
The homes supervised by churches in Ireland housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women, and their children for most of the twentieth century.
Those institutions have come under intense public scrutiny since historian Katherine Corliss in 2014 tracked down the death certificates of nearly 800 children who died at the Bon Secours Baby and Mothers Home in Tuam, County Galway, but were unable to find a burial record of a single child.
Investigators later found a mass grave containing children’s remains in an underground sewage structure on the grounds of the house, which was under the supervision of Catholic nuns and closed in 1961.
The prime minister said the report describes a “dark and disgraceful chapter in modern Irish history” and sheds light on the “anti-women culture” that the country has known “for decades”.
He stressed “the serious and systematic discrimination against women, especially those who have fathered children outside of marriage.”
He added that these deaths constituted 15 percent of the total of 57,000 children born in these institutions during the period the commission investigated, adding, “The whole society was complicit.”
The investigation was opened in 2015, following research by historian Catherine Corliss. She said that nearly 800 children born in one of these centers were buried in a mass grave between 1925 and 1961.