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Mother and Baby home survivor: 'We’ve had to wait too long for report'

Sheila O’Byrne was sent to St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on Dublin’s Navan Road when she was just 19.

Sheila O'Byrne

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

A Mother and Baby home survivor has said she is "delighted" the findings of a report into the decades of abuse of women and children faced in the institutions are being published today.

The document, which is 3,000 pages long, will be distributed to survivors before it is made publically available.

It follows a five-year investigation by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation into the lives of women and children in 18 homes from 1922 to 1998.

Sheila O'Byrne

Speaking to, Sheila O’Byrne, who was sent to St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on Dublin’s Navan Road when she was just 19, said today was a long time coming.

“I’m delighted that the report is coming out today,” she said.

“Because we’ve had a very long wait, too long. Many of the survivors, the mothers, they're very old.”

Sheila, who is a member of the group 'First Mothers and Survivors Unite', was placed in a Mother and Baby Home in 1976 after falling pregnant.

She hasn’t seen her son since he was a little baby after he was taken from her arms by the nuns.

“I have to put my hands up to the people who adopted my son,” she added.

“They gave him a good life and a good education.

“But today’s report is very, very important. It’s coming out with the truth, uncovering all the hidden secrets.”

Sheila, who has been fighting for justice for survivors of the Homes all her life, said the report will come too late for some of the mothers and their children.

“We have lost a lot of survivors in the last year,” she said.

“They will never hear an apology or get justice.”

More than 56,000 mothers and 57,000 children went through Ireland’s mother and baby homes and county homes.

It is understood that up to 9,000 children died in 18 institutions between 1922 and the closure of the last such home in 1998.

Living conditions in the institutions and mortality among mothers and babies were among the issues examined in the report, as well as post-mortem practices, vaccine trials conducted on children, illegal adoption and social attitudes.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin is set to make a formal State apology to survivors of the mother and baby homes in the Dail on Wednesday.

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