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Ireland considers inquiry into children's mass grave at ex-church home

Investigation Begins For Mass Baby Grave In Ireland

(Reuters) - Ireland is considering an inquiry into what the government called a "deeply disturbing" discovery of an unmarked graveyard at a former home run by the Roman Catholic Church where almost 800 children died between 1925 and 1961.

Ireland's once powerful Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of scandals over the abuse and neglect of children, and the government is concerned that research carried out by a local historian in county Galway has revealed another dark chapter.

The graveyard was discovered in the former grounds of one of Ireland's "mother-and-baby homes" run by the Bon Secours order of nuns. Researcher Catherine Corless said the bodies were buried in a sewage tank on the grounds.

Corless said public records show that 796 children died at there before its closure just over 50 years ago. She told national broadcaster RTE that some of the dead were as young as three-months-old.

Children's Minister Charlie Flanagan said on Wednesday that consideration was being given to the best means of addressing the "harrowing details" emerging on burial arrangements for children at the institutions that housed unmarried pregnant women.

"Many of the revelations are deeply disturbing and a shocking reminder of a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been," Flanagan said in a statement, adding that a report would be delivered to government by the end of June.

The Catholic Church ran many of Ireland's social services in the 20th century, including mother-and-baby homes where tens of thousands of unwed pregnant women, including rape victims, were sent to give birth.

Unmarried mothers and their children were seen as a stain on Ireland's image as a devout, Catholic nation. They were also a problem for some of the fathers, particularly powerful figures such as priests and wealthy, married men.

Like the Magdalene Laundries, where single women and girls were sent because they threatened Ireland's moral fibre, the mother-and-baby homes were run by nuns but received state funding. They acted as adoption agencies and in that capacity were overseen by the state.

TIPPING POINT

The treatment of women at mother-and-baby homes has come under scrutiny following the release last year of the Oscar-nominated movie "Philomena", the true story of an Irish woman whose son was sold as a toddler by nuns to a U.S. couple.

The Adoption Rights Alliance, which campaigns for greater access to adoption records in Ireland, particularly for those born in Catholic-run institutions, said there could be mass graves in other homes.

"This has got to be a national inquiry, it's got to take in all of the mother and baby homes, all of which have mapped children's graveyards on site," the group's co-founder Susan Lohan told RTE.

"We're looking at the very big mother-and-baby homes we know about but there are also smaller ones."

In a synopsis of the research published on her Facebook page, Corless said some mothers who gave birth in the Western Ireland home told her of long unattended labours, mostly without help from a sister or midwife, and that they were examined only once by a doctor when first admitted.

The Bon Secours order which ran the home was not available for immediate comment. Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin was quoted by the Irish Examiner newspaper as saying that work was needed to get an accurate picture of what happened at the homes.

Opposition parties and government members of parliament said an immediate inquiry was required.

"How can we show in Ireland that we have matured as a society if we cannot call out these horrific acts of the past for what they were? They were wilful and deliberate neglect of children, who were the most vulnerable of all," junior minister for education Ciaran Cannon told Reuters

"They were deserving of love and nurturing, but they received the exact opposite. They were shunned by society at the time. The only way we can address that injustice is to tell their story, to determine the truth."

Join the discussion

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cathyfb June 06 2014 at 1:23 PM

I have no time for the Catholic church. They are a bunch of hypocrites. They want no birth control and then when people can't take care of all the children or have them out of wedlock, they are ignored or treated like garbage by the church.

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8 replies
loveeurope2 June 06 2014 at 2:23 PM

The atrocities committed in the name of the Catholic church are horrific. Murderers and pedophiles go free and all in the name of God. One day there will be judgment day and if we cannot get to them in this life hopefully some higher power will. Where was God in all of this?

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12 replies
pamelama50 June 06 2014 at 3:22 PM

Ah yes, the Roman Catholic Church doesn't believe in birth control or abortions. However, once a fetus is brought to term and enters the world as a "baby" he/she is treated horribly--especially if the mother conceived the baby while unwed and/or raped. The Roman Catholic Church is a rich plethora of hypocrites, pedophiles, and mean-spirited, holier-than-thou clergy. Other religions are not immune, but the Roman Catholic Church seems to hold the record for the most corruption. Martin Luther was wise to get the heck away from them!!

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3 replies
gserlin June 06 2014 at 1:30 PM

Very disturbing. Another reason why abortion should be legal and available to every woman seeking that relief.

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23 replies
b.shagnasty June 06 2014 at 2:50 PM

Power and control; That's all religion is.
Interpreted by, and administered by men to suit their own power and control desires.

(....not to be confused with faith.)

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2 replies
amazing grace b.shagnasty June 06 2014 at 4:55 PM

I am a Catholic who believes in God, not man, NO MAN, INCLUDING PRIEST, POPES, WHOEVER!! I live by faith but also I am a person who has lived a full life, IN THIS WORLD, & know that men are NOT TO BE TRUSTED!! & in the Catholic church nuns have been used by men in the robes to carry out their dirty deeds against other WOMEN!!!

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7 replies
hattie54 b.shagnasty June 07 2014 at 12:32 AM

Same thing can be said for that certain group that wants to take over the world.

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1 reply
djeaninew1066 hattie54 June 07 2014 at 2:01 AM

They are far worse. To them, women are nothing but property with no souls.

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janieturnage June 06 2014 at 3:53 PM

Show me one person who is not appalled at this. I remember a time in the past at a nunnery in a city near us there was a scandalous rumor that illegitimate babies were born to some of the nuns there and so as not to be caught, the babies were destroyed and buried there. This was revealed by some workers who were hired to do some construction and repairs to the place and who found the skeletons of newborn babies. At that time, the Catholic Church was a very powerful organization and almost as fast as the word got out it was quickly suppressed. But I see that this report today was on a much larger scale and hopefully they will not be able to quiet this one down.

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2 replies
kmcc895370 janieturnage June 07 2014 at 7:01 AM

Would that be Pittsburgh, by any chance? Years ago my father talked with some other construction workers who spoke of that exact same thing they discovered. It was almost word for word as you discribed it.

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karen janieturnage June 07 2014 at 7:23 AM

Don't bet on it. How many pedophile priests are in prison?

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brns772 June 06 2014 at 2:04 PM

This is indeed a very sad story. Yes, investigate by all means, but don't expect to get anything at the end of it. The history of the Human Being can be very cruel. It really doesn't matter who perpetuated this travesty, because other groups were probably doing the same.

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2 replies
faithrada brns772 June 07 2014 at 12:13 AM

Lat time I checked two wrongs did not make a right.

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djeaninew1066 brns772 June 07 2014 at 2:03 AM

Perhaps, but none are more hypocritical than the Catholics.

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1 reply
Patrick djeaninew1066 June 07 2014 at 5:48 AM

I can think of a group that's far more hypocritical, and is defined by double standards that are exposed constantly. They're called "liberals".

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lamsantosantos June 06 2014 at 2:16 PM

Its very sad,human beings were treated this way.This place and others like it were more like asylums and run by lunatics!

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2 replies
English not Span lamsantosantos June 06 2014 at 5:00 PM

I suspect the lunatic would be more merciful

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alphaome4 lamsantosantos June 06 2014 at 8:52 PM

No less inhumane than for them to be out on the streets, alone.

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2 replies
lbriggs864 alphaome4 June 06 2014 at 11:15 PM

Therein lies the problem. A woman conceives out of wedlock, and society villifies her while doing NOTHING to the man who was an equal, if not greater partner, in what took place. If society is going to put a scarlet letter on the unwed mother, then unwed fathers should have to wear one, too.

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faithrada alphaome4 June 07 2014 at 12:12 AM

Except they have the nerve to set themselves up as spokesmen for God. ..the ONLY "TRUE" Spokesmen for God mind you. It's the hypocracy here that turns the stomach. They are in fact the very ones Jesus warned against. It is all quite insane.

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crowland503 June 06 2014 at 3:36 PM

The Church can be hazardous to your health!

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2 replies
icampcod247 crowland503 June 06 2014 at 7:32 PM

So can drinking & smoking both are the top 5 killers in America, both are also considered religions!

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faithrada crowland503 June 07 2014 at 12:16 AM

Quite literally

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Mike June 06 2014 at 6:25 PM

The Irish Catholic Church has always run the US Catholic Church. 'nuff said.

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