In a statement following the publication of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, the Sisters of Bon Secours – which ran the Tuam home from 1925 to 1961 – said: “We failed to respect the inherent dignity of the women and children who came to the home.”
Local historian and campaigner Catherine Corless, who first uncovered evidence of an unmarked mass graveyard at Tuam, said the apology from Bon Secours was “exactly what I’ve been looking for”.
“I’m very happy with that. It really means an awful lot to us,” she said.
Ms Corless told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne that she hoped the order would follow up on this expression of remorse with an agreement to exhume bodies and to allow DNA testing of remains.
The historian and campaigner also called on other orders to “follow suit” to admit that what they did was wrong.
“This means a great deal. People wanted them to say they’re sorry, to own up to what happened.”
It comes amid renewed criticism from survivors about the report, with claims from some about inaccuracies and omissions.
A woman who was born in the Bessborough mother and baby home has said that there were “10 glaring inaccuracies” in her testimony which was included in the report published on Tuesday.
Noelle Brown told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne that one major inaccuracy in the report was that it said she was raised by her birth parents, which was not the case.
Earlier, Ms Corless said many mother and baby home survivors were “very hurt” by Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s comments on Tuesday.
Ms Corless told Newstalk Breakfast that a broader apology was needed, highlighting the role of the Church and State in the institutions rather than putting so much weight on the role of society in general.
She said: “He specifically pointed out society in general, and the parents and grandparents of these survivors. They were very, very hurt over that. They all have their own stories. They gave their own stories, like how it was impossible for their mothers to stay in the village because of the Church and the attitudes they created at the time.”
Mother and baby homes: Bessborough survivor cites…
Mother and baby homes produced high levels of infant mortality, misogyny and stigmatisation of some of society’s most vulnerable, the independent report published on Tuesday said.
Many of the homes were run by Catholic nuns.
The commission of investigation report found “appalling” levels of death among the very youngest, more than one in 10 of children present.
Mr Martin plans to deliver a public apology on behalf of the State in the Dáil later on Wednesday.
Sinn Féin to introduce legislation to ban accent discrimination at work
Sinn Féin TDs Chris Andrews and Violet-Anne Wynne will introduce the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021 which will amend The Employment Equality Act 1998-2015 and The Equal status Act 2000-2018.
The Bill will ensure employers can not discriminate against a job applicant or current employee because of their accent or the socio-economic status of the area they come from.
Speaking today, Mr Andrews said: “This is an important opportunity to protect people in the workplace against class and accent based discrimination.
“Sadly, this kind of discrimination is all too common in our society. One of my constituents recently had the upsetting experience of applying for a job in Dublin and finding out his accent had been mocked by during the application process due to being from an inner city area.”
He said it is clearly “discriminatory and unacceptable” yet there was no legal protection against this discrimination. He said it is time to close this loophole in our legislation and outlaw such prejudice.
He added “No-one should be mocked or discriminated against because of their accent or perceived social class. I am calling on TDs from all parties to back Sinn Féin’s bill.”
Meanwhile, Ms Wynne said it is appalling that accent discrimination still occurs in our society and in the workplace.
She said “It should go without saying that no one should be judged or treated as being lesser because of their accent or stereotypes about their background.
“Our legislation is an important opportunity to change the current laws and protect people from class-based discrimination in the workplace. It is unacceptable that in 2021, this can still occur with no protections in place for workers who are subjected to it.”
Explorer from Ireland fundraises for homelessness with travel photos
Vincent Butler is behind the Sixty Photographs for Simon collection, an initiative to raise money for homeless charity the Simon Community.
The collection of photographs were taken from the explorer’s worldwide travels when he worked as a lecturer aboard the expedition cruise ship, the National Geographic Explorer, and as an expedition leader with Across the Divide.
Twenty-five countries are represented in a broad geographical sweep in the collection of pictures, from the Arctic to the Sahara, to the Antarctic.
The book was originally published in 2018 and is now being sent to more than 400 nursing homes across the country, and also to schools following a recent fundraising initiative to support the Simon Community.
In the lead up to Christmas, Mr Butler launched a fundraising initiative for the charity, whereby every €10 donation received would result in a copy of the book being sent to a nursing home or a school.
He raised over €12,000 which will see every nursing home in the country receiving the collection of photographs.
More than 800 primary and secondary schools will also be gifted one.
The initiative is supported by An Post’s freepost service for parcels being delivered into nursing homes.
Mr Butler said: “My travels provided me with an opportunity to explore some of the most diverse locations in the world and to capture different geographies, wildlife, natural history and heritage.
“My camera was my companion to capture these very special experiences and the book picks out the finest pictures and most memorable of these.
“I hope it gives people in our nursing homes and schools an insight into the different countries and cultures I was very fortunate to get to know and provokes discussion, curiosity and enjoyment.
“Those who contributed were supporting not just the Simon Community but also expressing solidarity with people in our nursing homes during these difficult times.
“I am delighted to report that the Irish tradition of ‘meitheal’, the coming together of a group of people to help others, is very much alive in our wonderful country.
“When I broached the idea for the fundraiser a close cohort of 18 friends came onboard and joined me. Together we raised €12,357 and every book we are sending has supported the Simon Community.”
Anyone wishing to donate can visit vincentbutlerheritage.ie where people can donate on Vincent’s Simon Community page.
Mother who went stealing with teen son given final chance
The Dublin woman, who is in her late 30s, and the co-accused, her 17-year-old son, had pleaded guilty six months ago to theft of razors worth €800 from a Boots shop.
Her son was also caught on another date with a stolen phone. He claimed it belonged to a friend, but as he was questioned by a suspicious garda, the phone began ranging. The officer answered to hear the voice of the phone’s real owner on the other end of the line, the Dublin Children’s Court was told.
The court heard mother and son entered the Boots store on October 9th, 2019 and went to the razor blades section. They concealed razors in bags and in their clothes and left, making no attempt to pay. They were identified from CCTV evidence.
The mother had one prior conviction for a not wearing a seat belt. Her solicitor had said her client cared for another child with mental health problems. She was a dedicated mother who until recently had difficulty getting a permanent residence, the solicitor said.
Her family had moved a number of times in recent years, but they hope to remain at their current address in Dublin for a longer period.
She was apologetic, the solicitor said, pleading for leniency.
The woman was told she had to stay out of trouble and bring a sum of cash to court. However, when the case resumed, Judge Colin Daly was told the woman did not have any money and needed more time.
Defence solicitor Ruth Walsh explained that her client’s family had recent bereavements which resulted in her having to use her money to help cover funeral costs.
Judge Daly adjourned the case for finalisation in April.
Brown Thomas jacket
Her son, and co-defendant, was sentenced to 12 months’ supervised probation last year. He had also pleaded guilty to the same charge, and 15 other offences committed over a 12-month period.
Armed robber left behind by his accomplices jailed…
He had no prior criminal convictions.
He was caught with the stolen phone worth €1,000 at Parnell Street on June 11 in 2019.
During a public order offence he was heavily intoxicated and called gardaí “f***ing scumbags”.
The teen stole €280 worth of sunglasses and a €825 jacket from Brown Thomas in Dublin. He was also found with a stolen bicycle.