A “site of national conscience” to honour the residents of mother and baby homes, industrial and reform schools as well as the Magdalene laundries is to be opened in Dublin.
The National Centre for Research and Remembrance will be on the site of a former Magdalene laundry on Seán McDermott Street in the north inner city and will include a museum and exhibition space.
There will also be research centre and records repository related to institutional trauma which will form part of the National Archives. The site will also include social housing and local community facilities as well as an educational and early-learning facility.
“While physically situated in Dublin, the national centre will be accessible for all survivors, whether in other parts of Ireland or abroad,” the Government said.
“It will provide digital access to records and exhibits, as well as developing physical presences elsewhere to enable survivors to visit more easily. In this way, the centre will be a national institution which achieves both a global reach and strong connections to, and benefits for, the local community.”
The central repository will also include the personal testimonies of survivors, which the Government said would allow “the lived experiences of survivors to be formally accepted as part of the official record”.
“Over the past three decades, Ireland has had a difficult reckoning with its history of institutional abuse,” Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said. “This centre will provide a place of reflection and remembrance, while also ensuring that future generations can fully understand the appalling impact of those institutions.”
He said he believed the project would “make a significant contribution in our journey of recognising and learning from the failures of the past and acknowledging the hurt which continues to be felt by survivors and their families”.
‘Important step forward’
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald welcomed the proposals, describing them as “an important step forward in a long-fought battle by survivors and their advocates to secure an appropriate memorial to the women and children who endured horrific institutional abuse under the State’s watch”.
She said the project would have to “reflect the scale of the wrongdoing by the State and religious institutions, and the remembrance both owe to the tens of thousands of women and children who were abused, isolated and broken by their actions. Their stories will finally not only be told, they will be protected and preserved for future generations.”