Ex-Madonna House resident says hospital handover a ‘slap in the face’

Francis Timmons urges separation of church and State in healthcare and education

Francis Timmons (46), an independent councillor on South Dublin County Council, spent the first three years of his life in Madonna House in Blackrock run by the Sisters of Charity.

Francis Timmons (46), an independent councillor on South Dublin County Council, spent the first three years of his life in Madonna House in Blackrock run by the Sisters of Charity.

 

A former resident of a mother and baby home run by the Sisters of Charity has described proposals to hand over ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital to the order as “disgusting and a disgrace”.

Francis Timmons (46), an independent councillor on South Dublin County Council, spent the first three years of his life in Madonna House in Blackrock run by the Sisters of Charity. He was born in 1971 to a single mother before being fostered out.

Cllr Timmons said the news the Sisters of Charity will own the new hospital left him in despair.

“Someone please tell me this is just a nightmare and that I have woken up in 2017 in a modern Republic of Ireland where the grip of the church is a thing of the past,” he said.

He described Madonna House as a “dark and gloomy place, I don’t remember fun. I remember feeling sad and crying a lot. I remember a lot of people and the nuns seemed aloof and distant. I remember feelings of hunger and a deep sadness a lot.’’

He lived in Madonna House with another brother. The pair were separated early. “I thought for ages that he would be coming to live with us too but that never happened. I was sad but I was glad to be leaving Madonna House,” he said. A third brother was placed in a different mother and baby home.

Cllr Timmons said he still bore the scars of his upbringing and his long separations from his mother left him with bouts of depression and feeling useless.

Limited contact

“The limited contact we had as a family when we were children was disgraceful and I believe that we should have been encouraged to spend more time together. I believe my mother really believed that she would have her children back some day.

“I was a lot luckier than most as a young adult. I visited the family home in Ballyfermot several times and met my grandparents and my uncles. Many don’t or never got the chance to have these memories.”

Cllr Timmons said he regretted the fact that his mother died in January 2014, just two months before he was elected as a councillor.

“I was very lucky to be with my mam in her last hours, she felt judged and guilty. Many do not have any memories or pictures. I really believe we only have one mam and she was mine, my Mammy Mary.”

Cllr Timmons said the State’s actions had shown it had learned nothing from the mistakes of the past. “It’s disgusting and disgraceful and another huge slap in the face for survivors,” he stated.

“Can someone please separate the church and State in Ireland? There needs to be an immediate separation of church and State. There is no place for church involvement in our healthcare or education.

“If people still want to practise Catholicism then they are free to do so but the State and its elected officials are there to look after everyone. Never again should we allow the church to have such control.”