Sally Mulready welcomes mother and baby home inquiry
Campaigner and former resident warns investigation will bring back painful memories
Sally Mulready is a former resident of a mother and baby home on the Navan Road, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times
A former resident of a mother and baby home on the Navan Road, Dublin, she said an exercise to address the scope of the commission of investigation, announced this month, was important, but cautioned about its potential effects.
“I am pleased with the promptness of the action and the decision to do it,” she said. “But . . . this is deeply, deeply sensitive stuff. It’s going to open wounds. It’s going to bring back pain and hurt for lots and lots of women in particular and I think it needs to be handled really sensitively.”
Ms Mulready hopes to meet the recently appointed Minister during a forthcoming visit to Dublin to discuss the matter, but has expressed confidence in the approach to date.
“It looks to me as if it is going to be very comprehensive. I hope we hear the voices of the people who went through it.
“I hope we hear the voices of the women and people like myself who were the sons and daughters of those women, and I hope that we will be included in that inquiry in a significant way.”
Ms Mulready, a veteran campaigner for the Irish community in the UK and a member of the Council of State, which advises the President, has helped raise support for Irish emigrants who have fallen on hard times.
In an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio, she spoke about her past as a young child in the home before being separated from her mother Sheila and moved to a new institution at the age of four.
Later, she discovered one of her brothers, John, had died as a young child and his body was given to Trinity College for medical research without consent. Having tracked down his burial plot in Glasnevin cemetery, she found it marked by a “stick with a number on it”, no name or crucifix.
“I cannot imagine that happening to children or young babies who died in families living in maybe Blackrock or well- to-do-families, families with influence,” she reflected.
“Comfortable Ireland for me should be quite ashamed about never asking questions. We lost a generation of children as well and it’s another hidden Ireland which, hopefully, Minister Flanagan will unfold for us.”
However, rather than it being an exercise in “bashing nuns”, Ms Mulready said there was a context in understanding the legacy of such institutions: that Ireland itself had been intolerant of the underprivileged.