At the silent #WalkWithPeter march from the Garden of Remembrance to the civic plaza on O’Connell Street opposite the GPO.
From top – Peter Mulryan (pic 1 and pic 3); Sheila O’Byrne, who spent time in the St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home on the Navan Road in Dublin (pic 4); Matilda Kelly, aged 9 ,from Ballinasloe, Co Galway (pic 5) and the boxes carried during the procession laid out outside the GPO (above).
After the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network members and their supporters arrived at the civic plaza, a number of speakers spoke – including Kevin Higgins, who assists the network, Peter Mulryan, and Peter’s daughter Trina Mulryan.
Mr Higgins said the group doesn’t want “any more tea and biscuits” or any more “obfuscation” in relation to identifying the remains found in Tuam.
“[The Government] has set its face against a full-scale, forensic examination of all of the remains. It has set it’s face against an inquest into the cause of death of each individual child and the reason for that is simple.
“It’s not actually money. They simply do not want the truth to emerge because from those bones will emerge, from those remains, the evidence, even now, of maltreatment, neglect and, in some cases, worse.”
He said it would take a “war of attrition” for the State to carry out inquests into the death of each child buried in Tuam and he called on anyone who hasn’t supported the network’s campaign to consider doing so now.
Peter Mulryan told those present that the network will not stop campaigning until the final child’s remains are taken out of the ground at the Tuam site and identified via DNA analysis.
He finished his address to the crowd, saying: “Give them back to us. Now.”
More than six years ago, in 2012, Catherine Corless published some research on the ‘Home’ and in spring 2014, four years ago – gave details to Alison O’Reilly of the Daily Mail [Irish Mail on Sunday].
They carried the story on the front page and the world began to ask ‘how could this happen in a staunchly Catholic country at a Home run by Catholic nuns while in receipt of State funds with the oversight of the local authority.
Those of us who are survivors and families – and connected to the ‘Home’ remember where we were when that news broke. We did not know then that it would take more than four years to have the site preserved as a crime scene.
In March of 2017, it was confirmed by Minister Zappone that the tiny human remains discovered dated from the time of the ‘Home’ 1925 to 1961. In other words, the children’s remains like us, were ‘Home Babies’.
Again, we waited patiently for some 18 months for the site to be declared a crime scene – with the appropriate Department of Justice in charge of full and total excavation and recovery of the remains that may include my own sister, Marian Bridget. To date that has not happened.
The children never had a funeral. They were the lost, forgotten babies and children of Tuam until 2014.
The infant mortality rate was five times than that of the population outside. One hundred and twenty six died within the first month of life.
Death certificates were not signed by a medical practitioner but rather a domestic at the home, burials were outside the norm, custom or law. Without coffins. Without a word, a prayer or a gesture of sympathy in a land that is renowned for its funeral services where communities seek comfort in the untimely death of a young person.
Compared to other Mother and Baby Homes, the death rate of babies at the Tuam home was almost double at a time. Some died within the first moments of birth.
Among the eldest record is that of Kathleen Cloran who was nine and a half years when she died in 1932. On one day, April 30th 1926, four deaths were recorded of measles outbreak which took 25 children from age two months to eight years.
Tuam Home was a workhouse for the poor and then it became a Mother and Baby Home. After having her second child, ten years after my birth, my mother Delia, was taken to the Magdalene Laundry. She never got out alive. She too is buried in a mass grave.
Women with child outside marriage were outcasts, their children, like me, regarded as ‘the children of sin’. With no one to speak for any of us, no words of comfort for children as they lay dying, today we walk in respect and reverence to give the children and the six missing mothers, the funeral they never had.
We demand truth, we demand justice and we demand that our Government change the way they have operated.
We do not know where the fragments of remains that were taken from the chamber are now stored, those belong to our families.
It is not good enough that for 18 months we do not know where they are. It is not good enough that the Taoiseach Varadkar delays a meeting with us – and that former Taoiseach Enda Kenny despite living nearby, never visited the site.
It is not good enough that the Coroner has not replied to us and that the Attorney General continues to ignore our requests to do their job.
We thank those who walk with us today. We are united in a shared grief. We are united in one voice, all survivors of Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland, all family members attached to other groups. We walk for our siblings, for our aunt or uncle, for our cousins, for our family.
We walk for our communities. And we walk in a funeral procession to show Government that if they do not act according to the law of the land, according to human rights protocols that we will continue until the last remaining child in the ground at Tuam is taken out of there.
All 796 children are equal – they are Irish citizens. It is past time that we change the record. Our babies, our children, our families. Give them back to us. Now.
Peter’s daughter Trina said:
My name is Trina Mulryan.
My father is Peter Mulryan who, like many others here today, started the first years of his life treated worse than an animal in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Also like many other survivors of the home, he was then fostered out to an even worse place where he spent his childhood and teenage years.
My Grandmother is Bridget Mulryan who had her child, my father, taken from her while in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and who was incarcerated 10 years later after becoming pregnant again.
Her second pregnancy out of wedlock was such a “crime” that she was incarcerated for the 35 remaining years of her life in a Magdalen Laundry in Galway City to work as a slave in the horrible conditions we are all too well aware of.
Bridget’s second child, my Aunt Marian Bridget, supposedly died 10 months after birth while in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. Her death cert was signed by another incarcerated mother who was used by the nuns to sign such documents.
The death was not certified by a doctor. The nuns not wanting their signature on the documents makes it very possible the documents were falsified so that the nuns could sell the babies which is human trafficking. We know this happened elsewhere at the time.
My Aunt Marian Bridget is suspected, according to Catherine Corless’s research, to be currently lying in a sewage tank in Tuam. We do not, however, know this for sure. Because of the strong possibility she was trafficked out of the country, sold by the nuns, – she may very well be alive today.
We, as a nation, rightfully still search for Northern Ireland’s disappeared who went missing not long after the time of the last Tuam baby was dumped in the sewage tank but it has nearly been five years since the story of the Tuam Babies broke in the national and international news and the local coroner has still not sealed the site for investigation.
The Attorney General has also not assigned a different coroner to investigate the site due to the local Coroner’s failure to act. Instead the Tuam Babies “issue” was given to Katherine Zappone to deal with despite her office not having the legal powers to direct a full investigation of the site. You can probably see why the families of the Tuam Babies might see this as a delaying tactic.
My father is now 74 years old. He has been through cancer in the last few years. He wants to know what happened to his sister before he dies. There are also others here today who also need to know about their family members.
My father has been forced to go to the High Court many times and has spent thousands of euro in legal fees to try and get information from the Statutory Agency Tusla. After many journeys from Ballinasloe to the High Court over a number of years, an agreement was registered with the High Court whereby Tusla would provide the records they have on his sister before October 2017.
Tusla did not uphold their side of the agreement and gave neither records nor assistance. My father has to now go back to the grueling process of the legal system because Tusla, the Statutory Agency, lied. What way is this to treat an elderly man just trying to find out what happened to his sister? Has his life not been hard enough as it is?
We welcomed Leo Vardkar’s speech to the Pope where he spoke of the importance of actions instead of words in relation to the wrongs of the state and the church in our dark history.
Unfortunately though, my father has only had words from the State in relation to his sister.
Katherine Zappone told us in Tuam a few months ago of the legal difficulties she has to overcome to do a full forensic excavation and DNA testing of the Tuam Babies but the law is already in place to do this its just she does not have the legal power to direct it to happen.
I ask the government to take action now and direct the Attorney General (through the Minister for Justice if necessary) to appoint a coroner to investigate the site fully as such a coroner already has the legal power to investigate the site.
I understand of course maybe the government just want to delay this the same way as the Catholic Church have delayed and continues to delay using the tactic of “words” without any action but I hope this is not the case.
Peter Mulryan, of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network (third right), at a march through Tuam, Co Galway during the papal visit
At the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Dublin 1.
Members and supporters of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network will gather to remember the 796 children who resided in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.
The State issued 796 death certificates for these children but burial records exist only for two, while there are also no burial records for six single mothers who are recorded as having died at the home.
The network, led by survivor Peter Mulryan, will hold a bagpiper-led funeral cortege to honour the children and mothers who were never accorded the same – and they ask that anyone who wishes to take part bring a white shoe box with them to represent a small coffin.
The network originally notified An Garda Siochana, in writing on Tuesday, that they planned to walk from the Garden of Remembrance, down to O’Connell, Street, over O’Connell Bridge, down D’Olier Street, around College Green, up Nassau Street and up Kildare Street to Leinster House.
However, a garda from Store Street Garda Station told the network on Thursday that they could not walk this route.
Instead the network was offered an alternative route which would see the group turn left up Eden Quay – at the top of O’Connell Street – down Custom House Quay before eventually going up Westland Row and ending up at Merrion Square.
However, this route adds about two miles onto the march and those taking part – many in their 70s – would find this difficult.
Kevin Higgins, who assists the network, contacted Department of Justice on Thursday and pointed out the age and infirmity of some of the survivors of the Tuam home and suggested that a short period of traffic management by An Garda Siochana would allow the survivors and their supporters to take the shorter, desired route.
Mr Higgins also pointed out to the Department of Justice that it is responsible for the coroners’ service but that neither the local coroner in Tuam, Galway, or the Attorney General has convened an inquest into the death of a single child at the Tuam home.
He also reminded the department that Dublin city centre was effectively closed down to accommodate Pope Francis in August.
Mr Higgins was told by the department, on Thursday, that the matter would be referred to the appropriate Garda Division and that the department would revert to him.
At close of business yesterday, at 5pm, Mr Higgins received an email from the Department of Justice saying it had nothing to do with the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and he could not interfere.
As a result, the network has decided to walk from the Garden of Remembrance to the civic plaza in front of the GPO on O’Connell Street where a number of speakers will address supporters.
Previously: Walk With Peter