Exclusion of some adopted people from redress scheme ‘shocking’

Minister urged to re-engage with groups representing survivors of mother and baby homes

  Rita Cahill  being comforted by friend Clodagh Ledwidge  outside the Dáil, where survivors of mother and baby homes gathered on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Rita Cahill being comforted by friend Clodagh Ledwidge outside the Dáil, where survivors of mother and baby homes gathered on Tuesday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The exclusion of adopted people who spent less than six months following birth in a mother and baby home from the Government’s redress scheme for survivors has been described as “shocking”.

At a rally outside Leinster House on Tuesday People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, who was himself adopted, called on the Government to abandon the provision and “re-engage with the survivors’ groups to come up with a proper scheme”.

The Government should also “demand and, if necessary, take the assets of religious organisations and bodies, or pharmaceutical companies, who were culpable in order to fund the redress scheme and to have accountability for the crimes committed by both Church and State”, he said.

It emerged last week that a redress scheme including all 58,000 survivors of Mother and Baby Homes would cost €1.6 billion and that civil servants had warned the Government the cost could “derail” attempts to support survivors most in need.

At the rally, organised by the Dublin 15 & 7 Action Against Gender Violence, Majella Connolly, who was adopted from St Patrick’s mother and baby home in Dublin when she was six weeks old, called on Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman to sit down with organisations representing survivors.

“I don’t have a legal birth certificate. I am 50 and I still have no birth certificate,” Ms Connelly said. “I share the same sort of certificate as my rescue dog – we both have an adopted cert. I want that baby born 50 years [ago] legally recognised.”

Ms Connelly said the religious organisations have profits and assets “that should be used to compensate everyone affected”.

Mr Boyd Barrett said the religious organisations have assets “that are multiples of that amount of money and they have never paid the just compensation. Why the Government continues to tiptoe around the obligations of those religious institutions to use their assets to fund a proper scheme of redress is hard to understand”.

‘Arbitrary time limit’

On the six-month limit, he said “the idea that it’s just about a certain time threshold – if you don’t reach that threshold you didn’t suffer trauma as a result of forced – at worst – separation is just shocking”.

It was the case that “every individual story is different. Some suffer absolutely terribly, but the idea that the trauma you suffer is limited to a time period – I don’t know how long I was in a mother and baby home precisely. I haven’t chased up all the records but certainly my biological mother doesn’t fully know”.

He said he was born in a mother and baby home in London and then sent back to Temple Hill in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

“It’s not quite clear to me how long I would have been there, but the point is the impact of separation of mother from child, child from mother, cannot be reduced to an arbitrary time limit. It impacts on people differently,” he said.

“For some there was lifelong trauma, for others there were slightly better outcomes but you can’t reduce them to a time limit. It’s about really understanding the human story that is involved in every single case.”