Hundreds attend vigil to remember Tuam babies

Teddy bears and children’s shoes attached to Dáil railings to remember those who died in mother and baby homes

Some of those who attended a vigil in memory of babies who died at mother and baby homes across the State. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Some of those who attended a vigil in memory of babies who died at mother and baby homes across the State. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 20:46

Several hundred people attended a vigil in memory of babies who died at mother and baby homes across the State outside the Dáil tonight.

The vigil was organised by Justice for the Tuam Babies .

Those taking part in the vigil marched from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to the gates of the Dáil.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was among those who attended.

Teddy bears and children’s shoes were attached to the railings outside the Dáil to remember those who died in the homes.

The crowd heard testimony from people who experienced life in the homes and other institutions.

There was also music and poetry from artists such as Liam O’Maonlaí, Brian Kennedy, Don Baker and Karen Casey.

Justice for Tuam Babies spokesman Gary Daly said they “cautiously welcome” the announcement by Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan, of a special commission of investigation into the high mortality rates at mother and baby homes across the State.

“We stand in solidarity with the babies and mothers from Tuam and all mother and baby homes. We want to remember them and to show we care,” said Mr Daly.

“The inquiry must have full powers to compel the appearance of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence and these powers must be enforceable particularly against the religious orders which operated these homes on behalf of the State. The interdepartmental scoping exercise will report back by June 30th and the Government will draw up the terms of reference at that point and identify who is to conduct the inquiry,” said Mr Daly.

The Government investigation will examine the high mortality rates at these homes across several decades of the 20th century, the burial practices at the sites and also secret and illegal adoptions and vaccine trials on children.