From top: Outside the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, county Galway; Mairead Enright
Further to the publication by 25 academics of an alternative executive summary to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation final report…
…one of its authors, Mairead Enright writes:
‘The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes concluded that primary responsibility for the treatment of unmarried women and girls and their children lay with their own families and with their children’s fathers. Our approach required us to reassert the primacy, in law, of State responsibility for addressing human rights abuses.
Here are just three examples of differences between the commission’s reasoning and ours.
The commission suggests that children who did not spend long in an institution are unlikely to have been abused. By contrast we recognise forced separation from a parent as a harm in itself. We also highlight the particular vulnerability of young children, who may suffer greatly even from brief periods of institutionalisation because they are completely dependent on adults and unable even to attempt escape.
The commission dismisses claims related to maltreatment in childbirth by referring to the presence of trained medical staff in the institutions. We recognise that the experience of giving birth in an institution may be inhuman and degrading where one is totally under the control of the institution’s staff, subject to regular punishment and emotional abuse and perhaps very young and separated from all other support structures.
The commission insists that “forced” adoption was not a serious issue in the institutions. We unpack its narrow use of the word “force”, taking seriously the many social and emotional pressures that made resistance to adoption almost impossible for unmarried Irish women, well into the 20th century.’
Alternative Executive Summary here.