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The Real-Life Philomena
Northern Ireland parties apologize for decades of child abuse in institutions
In Northern Ireland, just about all political parties in parliament have apologized for the mistreatment of young people in religious institutions. Previously, an investigation had found that children were widely abused and mistreated in a number of religious institutions between 1922 and 1995.
Jos De Greef
Fri 11 Mar 17:47
It was a subdued and emotional session of Stormont, the parliament of the British region of Northern Ireland. Eighty victims of the abuse were present to hear that they are now finally being believed and that the political parties are apologizing. These came from the major parties: the Protestant DUP and UUP, the Catholic Sinn Fein, the Social Democratic SDLP and the Liberal Alliance.
Representatives of four Catholic religious monastic orders involved, the Anglican Church of Ireland and the British charity Barnardo’s were also present at the hearing and expressed their regret for the suffering caused to the victims.
Today’s hearing follows a 2017 investigative report. That had shown that children and teenagers in the institutions in question suffered systematic and widespread abuse in homes in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.
These young people were victims of sexual abuse, among other things, and were also often neglected, beaten or suffered emotionally from very severe discipline or lack of care. The report blamed the religious for this, but also staff members and sometimes even other young people who were allowed to go about their business with impunity. In the institutions “a climate of fear” prevailed. Government inspections ignored the abuse in most cases.
13 jan. 2021
19 mrt. 2018
Our reporters returned to Ireland, where the remains of 800 children who died at the Tuam Mother and Baby home in County Galway were found in a mass grave. Our team met with survivors of the home, who told them of their pain and of rebuilding their stolen childhoods.
Imagine a world where you were separated by force from your mother, simply because you were born out of wedlock. A world where you were called a bastard and she a whore. A world where you were thrown into a facility run by nuns, where food was scarce and where you didn’t know what Christmas was. A world where “home” was synonymous with hell.
In the town of Tuam, Western Ireland, that world was a reality for tens of thousands of mothers and their babies, born between the 1920s and the 1960s.
In 2014, Catherine Corless, an amateur historian, revealed the result of her research: nearly 800 babies were denied proper burials and their bodies were located in the chambers of a sewage system, on the property of the former Mother and Baby home.
The investigation is still under way and its findings are due to be revealed in 2019. But many in Tuam blame the state and the Bon Secours Sisters, who ran the home at the time.
FRANCE 24’s Aurore Cloe Dupuis and Julie Dungelhoeff met with survivors of the home, who demand justice for those whom they call the forgotten Angels of Tuam.
►► Ireland’s missing babies cast light on dark history
3 Head of Ireland’s Catholic Church apologises to survivors of mother and baby homes – BBC News
13 jan. 2021