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Report into religious-run mother and baby homes to be published

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

Hotel bedsheets with the names of hundreds of dead children draped on the gates of a mass burial site at Tuam, Co Galway (PA)

Cate McCurry

An extensive report into decades of abuse of women and children at the hands of religious-run mother and baby homes in Ireland is to be published today.

The findings of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation will be laid bare more than five years after it was set up, and following several delays.

Survivors of the mother and baby homes will read about the shocking number of children and babies who died in the institutions.

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.

The commission was set up to investigate 14 mother and baby homes and four State-operated county homes.

The long-awaited report will run to 4,000 pages, including 1,000 pages of personal testimonies.

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

They housed women and young girls who were pregnant outside of marriage.

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

The commission was established by the Government in 2015 following claims that the bodies of up to 800 babies and children were disposed of at an unmarked grave at a mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

It came following extensive research carried out by local historian Catherine Corless.

She documented the deaths of 796 babies and children while the Bon Secours home was in operation.

Tuam, like many other homes, took in unmarried pregnant women who were usually brought there by family members.

People gather to protest at the site of the former Tuam home, where a mass grave of around 800 babies was uncovered (Niall Carson/PA)

The mothers were then separated from their children, who were housed elsewhere in the home and raised by nuns until they were adopted without the mothers’ knowledge or consent.

The Tuam home was run by members of the Bon Secours religious order of nuns.

Following Ms Corless’ work, there were widespread calls for an investigation into the mother and baby homes.

The commission examined many different issues, including how the women and children entered the homes, their living conditions and how they were treated, forced labour, physical and emotional abuse as well as forced adoptions.

The Government has also faced criticism over its mishandling of the report last year.

There was a huge backlash from survivors, campaigners and opposition parties after the Government passed controversial legislation that would allow a database created by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission to be sealed for 30 years.

There was widespread confusion over the legislation and whether survivors would get proper access to their records.

The Cabinet is to approve the commission’s final report today, and it will then be made available for survivors to read.

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