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Missing children Survivor (90) of Tuam mother and baby home says Bafta film should be shown in schools

The Missing Children, a feature length documentary, was nominated for a Bafta last week

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Christina Tully

Christina Tully

Christina Tully

A 90-year-old survivor of Ireland's mother and baby homes has said a Bafta nominated film about the story of the Tuam babies should be shown in primary schools around the country.

Christina 'Chrissie' Tully from Loughrea, Co Galway had two babies out of wedlock as a teenager and as a result she was locked up at the controversial Tuam home.

The religious run institution run by the Bon Secours order, and overseen by Galway County Council, is the subject of a Bafta nomination for Specialist Factual documentary, which includes the story of Chrissie's son Patrick and his adoption.

The Missing Children, a feature length documentary, which aired on RTE, ITV and Sundance, was nominated for a Bafta last week.

Breaking her silence recently, heartbroken Chrissie revealed the remains of her son Michael who died at birth in 13 December 1949 are missing, and believed to be buried in the septic tank in Tuam and no burial records can be found anywhere on the child.

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Patrick Naughton

Patrick Naughton

Patrick Naughton

Chrissie's son Patrick Naughton appears in the film and he highlighted how he has never been able to retrieve any record that shows his mother signed him over for adoption.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Chrissie said she is backing the film to win the Bafta and said it would be an honour for her son Michael and all the babies who are buried in mass graves all over Ireland, including 796 in a septic tank in Tuam.

Chrissie said: "The film is nominated in England for a Bafta award and I want to see my son walking the red carpet for me.

"It should be shown in schools everywhere around Ireland it should be part of their history books.

"Never again should this ever happen.

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"The film has my son Patrick in it. I am very proud that he told his story because it wasn't easy for any of us, opening all this up, no it was tough.

"I never ever ever spoke about it before.

"I have stayed quiet about what happened to me and others for all those years.

"There was always that small mind, people talking and the shame of it all.

"The gardai came to arrest me over being pregnant, can you imagine it? I mean, coming to the house to get you and bring you to the barracks because you're having a baby as a teenager and you're not married.

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A mother hugs her child after leaving flowers at the shrine which stands on a mass burial site formerly part of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

A mother hugs her child after leaving flowers at the shrine which stands on a mass burial site formerly part of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

A mother hugs her child after leaving flowers at the shrine which stands on a mass burial site formerly part of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

"Well they brought me to the barracks to see a judge, as true as God is my witness, and the judge, whose dead now, told me 'if you don't tell me who is the father I'll have to put you in jail'.

"I told him to put me in jail so.

"I went to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and he died after that.

"I always believe he died because of me. That would have eventually weighed on his mind, saying something like that to a young girl. The power they all had.

When my son Michael was born the doctors just took him away and said he died.

"I never laid eyes on him, I wasn't able to bring him home. I don't know where he is to this day.

"But I never sleep at night without praying for him. What time do I have left now to find him?

"Then this story came out about the Tuam grave. And all this talk of legislation to open a grave full of dead babies, nonsense, a load of bull. Legislation to take innocent babies out of a pipe.

"May god forgive them. They should all be in jail for what they did."

Chrissie fell pregnant again with her son Christopher who was adopted a six weeks and given the name Patrick Naughton but paperwork states the boy was adopted at six months.

But Chrissie is clear in her memory of his removal from her.

"My son Christopher was taken off me when he was six weeks old and adopted as Patrick. It was not six months, no way. I am glad he had a good life, but I never wanted him adopted.

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Tributes left at the site of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Tributes left at the site of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Tributes left at the site of the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway. Photo: Steve Humphreys

" I was going to get a job, get myself settled in a flat with him and rear him myself but he was taken without any say given to me and I had no choice at all.

"I was heartbroken. I never spoke about these things now. I had to hide it all but everyone knew.

"My mother wouldn't write to me or send me anything when I was in Tuam in case people saw her posting something from the Post Office.

"I don't care any more now. I just want it all out there. I look at them in the Dail, and I think shame on you, the people running this country and not a single person has contacted me.

"I went mad when Patrick told me he was going to be in the film, but then we all talked and I understood, it's not my shame.

"And I went to visit the grave in Tuam and it made me so sad walking around there wondering is my Michael there. We have written to everyone, but no one knows where my child is.

"I hope the film wins for my baby Michael who is a missing baby, and for my Patrick and for all the babies and the people who care about this sad time in Ireland it's a horrible time that we have to face up to and how we threw away all those babies and all those poor people who had to leave and run away because of shame. I am speaking for them".

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Journalist Alison O'Reilly

Journalist Alison O'Reilly

Journalist Alison O'Reilly

Alison O'Reilly the journalist who broke the story of the Tuam babies burial scandal and worked on The Missing Children said the families of the children who died in Tuam are "delighted" with the nomination.

She said: "It was a very hard film to make over many years and during the pandemic too.

"A nomination like this on a world stage yet again brings home the message that the 796 babies are still lying in a septic tank in Tuam despite that story being exposed in 2014.

"We work so hard to keep this story in the public domain so that its not brushed under the carpet.

"A nomination like this keeps the focus on getting those babies out of that tank, and finding the 9,000 babies lying in mass graves all over the country".

The Bafta Awards ceremony will be on Sunday 8th May.

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