A WOMAN whose mother was born in Stranorlar County Home says the financial redress scheme adds further insult to women and children survivors not deemed eligible.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, was speaking to the Donegal News after Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman revealed details of the €800 million redress scheme which will benefit 34,000 survivors – the largest in the history of the State in terms of beneficiaries.
Minister O’Gorman said it “represents a significant milestone in the State’s acknowledgement of its past failures and needless suffering experienced by so many of its citizens”.
In addition, people who spent more than six months in one of the institutions will be eligible to receive an enhanced medical card under the redress scheme. A national memorial and records centre has also been announced. But, the woman said the redress scheme does not go far enough and will leave many behind. The woman’s grandmother was taken from her home by gardaí and put into the mother and baby home when she was five months pregnant with her mother.
At the age of 29, the grandmother discovered she was pregnant. She had been in a relationship with an Irish soldier based in a local camp one mile from where she lived. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he was forced to move away and the couple never saw one another again.
The woman’s mother was born in July 1944. Her grandmother was not permitted to have any pain relief during labour. She also had her womb removed following the birth of her daughter at the behest of the nuns, and was put to work in the laundry room of the unit. She spent more than four years in the unit with her baby.
“I was taken back by the news, the redress scheme is not good enough. Again, there is more insult to women and children who have spent time in these places,” said the woman.
She said it was not good enough the scheme excludes women and children who spent less than six months in mother and baby institutions.
“There is nothing for those who endured such harsh abuse, and all the redress in the world could not make up for what the Church, State and society made them carry afterwards. The shame, and where are the churches in this? After all, the laundry business was very lucrative for them and then the amounts of money they got to sell the babies, they still sit in very large homes.”
The woman’s mother passed away at the age of 50. In her own life, the woman said she was bullied at school and had a derogatory name labelled to her. She said she believes that in the case where the parent has passed away there should be provision for their family to receive the redress.
“The government have made yet another mess with this, it could take another year or two before anyone can get redress. I think that in the situation where a parent has passed away then their family should be able to get that (redress).”
A Commission of Investigation report, published in January of this year, found there was an “appalling level of infant mortality” in the homes over a 76-year period.
Overcrowded and in a very poor condition, Stranorlar County Home, formerly the local workhouse, admitted 1,646 unmarried mothers between 1922 and 1964.
A total of 1,777 children were admitted there or born there during the same period. The report found there were 339 infant deaths in Stranorlar County Home.