February 29, 2024
News Opinion

KATHLEEN FUNCHION: It’s time to finally right the wrong done to Mother and Baby Homes survivors

Today is set to be a historic day as the report into the Mother and Baby Homes is finally published.

The existence of Mother and Baby Homes casts a dark shadow in our country’s history. Too often, women, girls and their children were cast off by a society which decided to exclude and shame them instead of helping them.

For decades, we have neglected to fully acknowledge this painful chapter. Survivors and their families have bravely spoken up to insist that what happened doesn’t continue to be swept under the carpet.

Through their bravery and their advocacy, their stories are now finally being told. I want to pay tribute to survivors and families for their courageous pursuit of the truth and who have so bravely shone a light on this shameful chapter in our country’s history.

We have a duty to listen to them with respect and ensure we do right be them.

I have no doubt that the contents in today’s report will likely be very harrowing and upsetting reading. But we owe it to survivors to make sure we don’t look away. Their voices have been ignored for too long and they now must be at the very heart of what happens next.

The Government must ensure that they take decisive action to support survivors now. Survivors deserve more than just nice words or tea and sympathy.

We cannot allow the substantial and ongoing concern for victims around accessing their birth certificates to remain as one of their biggest challenges. Survivors have told me first-hand they face unnecessary obstacles, distressing delays and outright obstruction in the pursuit of what should be a human right for any adopted person.

Not alone have they been subjected to the cruellest treatment at the hands of church and state as young children, as adults they have been subjected to the indignity of having to justify themselves to a bureaucratic system that it some cases seems designed to break them. It is cruel and it must end now.

I have consistently called on the Minister to ensure that dedicated, tailored services providing emotional wellbeing supports are in place to meet survivors’ immediate needs. This must include health services, social support and other related services. I am very concerned that survivors will be channelled into already over-subscribed HSE services. This is simply not good enough.

Many survivors are suffering significant financial hardship, and this is causing difficulties accessing housing. Victims and survivors need access to dedicated case workers, welfare support, talking therapies, complementary therapies and other services.

We owe it to survivors to listen to their needs and ensure they get the support they are entitled to. Sympathy and kind words are not enough. They have been let down by government and by society for far too long and it is time to right this wrong.

*Kathleen Funchion is Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children and TD for Carlow-Kilkenny

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