Galway council asked to apologise over Tuam mother and baby home

Independent TD Catherine Connolly says council should issue response to report

Framed baby dolls at a shrine in Tuam, Co Galway. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty

Framed baby dolls at a shrine in Tuam, Co Galway. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP via Getty

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

The role of Galway County Council and Catholic bishops in Galway and Tuam in the operation of the mother and baby home in Tuam was “shocking”, according to Independent TD Catherine Connolly.

The Galway TD has demanded a full apology from the council.

The report is to be discussed at today’s meeting of Galway County Council. Last week the issue had been listed as No 8 on the agenda, but the chairman of the council, James Charity, has since said that it will be the first item to be debated.

“What jumps out off the page is the role of the local authority and indeed the role of bishops in Galway, in Tuam – a powerful role,” Ms Connolly said. “The local authorities’ role is shocking, the psychiatrists’ role, medical officers’ role, all of them complicit in this cruelty.

“I think that has to be acknowledged. The county council have issued a statement acknowledging the report. I would hope that they would read the report. I hope the county manager and officials read it and come back and then give us a reaction,” she said.

“Without a doubt, the establishment, although it is not the same people now, but that establishment in its format, which was Galway county and city [councils], have to acknowledge the role they had.

“The county manager was all-powerful. He made a lot of powerful decisions. The bishops made a lot of powerful decisions, and the nuns were part of that.”

Council role

Despite the high number of deaths in Tuam, the Mother and Baby Homes Commission’s report said the home never featured in council debates, even though the institution was under its control and councillors held meetings in the children’s home.

It also found that Galway County Council determined that “unmarried mothers should be excluded from the Central Hospital in Galway because their presence deterred ‘respectable’ married women from giving birth in the hospital”.

The council also had a “clear policy that women who gave birth to a second or subsequent child should be sent to a Magdalene laundry”.

The Galway TD has also called on the Government to move quickly on legislation to allow for exhumation at the Tuam burial site and to act on recommendations that the Catholic Church should make its archives available.