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Record sealed TD Niall Collins should retract 'hurtful' comments, says Mother and Baby Home survivor


Sheila O'Byrne

Sheila O'Byrne

Sheila O'Byrne

A Mother and Baby Home survivor has described a Fianna Fail TD’s claims that some people are “exploiting” controversy as "hurtful."

Limerick representative Niall Collins made the comments in an email to a constituent who had questioned him about his support for a Bill which could see the sealing of the Mother and Baby Home records

In the email, Mr Collins said there was "a repulsive online campaign where some very nasty people are exploiting this situation and the vulnerabilities of some.”

He subsequently claimed the online campaign is being pushed by "politically orchestrated" groups.

However, speaking to the Sunday World, campaigner 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 she found these comments hurtful.

"There is no political agenda from us,” she told The Sunday World.

“How dare he [say this], when they didn’t give us any consent and put this sneaky Bill together without consulting us.

“That is our testimonies they are sealing.

“That is our data; our property.

“They don’t own that information, we own that, me and every other mother or child from the Mother and Baby Homes.

“This is our history and our legacy and they want to take it from us and to say we are taking advantage of the situation is outrageous and hurtful to all the mothers."

Sheila, who is a member of the group 'First Mothers and Survivors Unite', was sent to St Patrick’s 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.

She says that the TD needs to seriously think about what he is saying.

When asked by the Sunday World to react to Shelia's comments, Deputy Collins insisted he had not been talking about campaigners or survivor's groups.

"You will see I said 'some.'

"I didn’t mention the person referred to in your email [Sheila O'Byrne]. Neither did I mention any campaign group you will clearly see."

In a response to the Irish Examiner today, Deputy Collins defended his comments saying, he believes, the online campaign is being "politically orchestrated."

"I've never in my life been subjected to such an online hate campaign.

"I've been called a scumbag, a bastard, people have said: 'I hope you die. I hope you get Covid - watch your back'.

"I really think that people who are directing this abuse at public reps should inform themselves and should consider what they're saying.

"It's unprecedented and it's being politically orchestrated for political purposes, look at who is pushing this."

But Sheila, who has been fighting for justice for survivors of the Homes all her her life, rejected this explanation and called on Deputy Collins to retract his statement.

“We are going to go legal with this Bill now.

“How can they give out about any online campaigns when the politicians went against us like this?

“So, it’s okay for them to do things to us, after all the atrocities we suffered, all the things that happened to us?

“How dare he, he needs to take those comments back.”

Online Editors