Survivors of mother and baby homes say redress scheme ‘discriminates against’ some residents

Only those who spent over six months in mother and baby homes as infants eligible

The Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home in Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home in Roscrea, Co Tipperary. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Adoptee survivors of mother and baby homes say they are “devastated” and “up in arms”over the mother and baby homes redress scheme, saying it “discriminates against” any who spent less than six months as an infant in a home.

There is also concern about the length of time survivors must wait for redress.

The scheme, announced by Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman on Tuesday, will provide redress to those who were mothers in the homes and those who were babies at the time – but among the latter only those who spent six months or more in an institution will be eligible for redress.

Clodagh Malone (51), founder of Beyond Adoption, spent 10 weeks in St Patrick’s Guild mother and baby home in Dublin. She said the scheme was “supposed to be survivor-led”.

“Then to exclude children under six months. How can they say a mother can get a payment and her child can’t? We were in there at the same time. We were all going out for adoption at six, seven weeks. I was 10 weeks. The post-traumatic stress is the same. The trauma of not knowing who you are.

“How can you say innocent infants in these State- and Church-run institutions can be discriminated against based on time periods? I’m devastated.

“Some survivors were hoping to get that few quid to bury themselves. The community is up in arms about this. Certainly we are going to fight it.”

‘Not happy’

David Kinsella (63) was also in St Patrick’s Guild, from 1958 until 1962. He will be eligible for redress, but is “certainly not happy” at the exclusion of former infant residents.

“Adoptees I know, that would have been in institutions three days or three weeks, can fall into addiction. The detrimental effect goes beyond the walls of the institution. Redress should apply whether you were in there three days, three weeks or three years. There should be no barrier.”

Rosie Rodgers (63), who was born in Castlepollard mother and baby home, Co Westmeath and also spent time in Tuam, Co Galway and Sean Ross Abbey, Co Tipperary, said she agreed with the “huge disappointment” among adoptee groups.

“Anything after six months and you are acknowledged. Anything less and your pain doesn’t count. Everybody who spent a day in those institutions, it has left its mark. There is no inclusiveness in this redress.”

A number of survivors of Protestant institutions welcomed the announcement of the scheme, though would await more detail before commenting on its merits. Colm Begley and Andrew Yates spent more than a year in the Bethany mother and child home on Orwell Road, Dublin in the 1960s.

‘Sexual abuse’

“After Bethany, we were sent to the Westbank orphanage in Bray and later Greystones, where most children were denied adoption. Westbank residents suffered physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse, yet the institution was never included in the residential institutions redress scheme,” they said in a statement. “We want the Minister to state that former Westbank residents will be compensated, whether or not they were in the Bethany Home.”

There is concern at the length of time survivors will have to wait for redress, in contrast to a similar scheme in Northern Ireland where interim payments will be made immediately.

Kevin Winters, solicitor with KRW Law representing a number of survivors, said the scheme “failed survivors”, as no payments are likely until 2023. Many survivors, particularly mothers, are ageing.

“The proposals are restricted in terms of criteria and implementation. For many survivors this will be too little too late,” said Mr Winters.