Family wants body exhumed


DEATH OF BABY GIRL:THE FAMILY of Marion Howe, a baby girl who died just four days after being admitted to Goldenbridge orphanage in the 1950s, have called for the exhumation of her body to resolve what they believe to be “unanswered” questions surrounding her death.

“The death of Marion has left a lot of unanswered questions, her death was very mysterious. We want a forensic examination of her body to ensure that the DNA does match up, and the exact cause of death,” Marion’s sister Geraldine Howe has said.

Marion Howe was 11 months old when she was taken into care by the Sisters of Mercy at the St Vincent’s Industrial School, Goldenbridge, on May 17th, 1955.

She was later referred to St Ultan’s Hospital by the orphanage doctor and died on May 21st, 1955. A postmortem two days later by the Dublin city coroner found she died of acute dysentery infection.

The child also had a burn on her leg, the cause of which could not be determined.

A High Court action against the Sisters of Mercy on behalf of Marion’s parents, Myles and Christina Howe, was settled for £20,000 in 1997.

The payment, made without any admission of liability, was made as recompense for any distress suffered arising from the death of their child.

“Marion’s injuries don’t add up. As a family we have seen no hospital records, no postmortem results, just a death certificate to say the cause of death was dysentery. Mystery still surrounds her death,” said Geraldine Howe.

The family were motivated to renew their calls for clarification on Marion’s death by the findings in the Ryan report.

The report concluded that: “The Sisters in charge during the relevant period [1880-1983] were harsh and unfeeling towards the children under their care. Humiliation and degradation were constant occurrences, both from the Sisters and from the lay staff.”

Ms Howe commented: “We were motivated by what has come out under the Ryan inquiry. My parents’ case was a test case that opened the floodgates up. As a family we don’t want compensation, we want answers.”

Attempts to contact the Sisters of Mercy were unsuccessful.