Taoiseach apologises on behalf of “the Government, the State and its citizens” to victims of Mother and Baby Homes

“The State failed you, the mothers and children in these homes.”

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has made a State apology to the survivors of the Mother and Baby Homes in the Dáil.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, following the publication of the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission on Tuesday, Martin said: “It is a duty of a republic to be wiling to hold itself to account; to be willing to accept hard truths and to accept parts of its history which are deeply uncomfortable.”

He apologised on behalf of “the Government, the State and its citizens” for the “profound and generational wrong” that was done to these women and children, and said that “the State failed” them.

“To confront the dark and shameful reality, which is detailed in this report, we must acknowledge it as a part of our national history,” he said.

“And for the women and children who were treated so cruelly, we must do what we can to show our deep remorse, understanding and support.”

The apology comes the day after the Commission of Investigation found that approximately 56,000 women and 57,000 children were admitted to the Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland between 1922 and 1998. 9,000 children, or 15% of residents, died in the 18 institutions under investigation.

Martin said that the findings in this report have given Ireland a “moment for us as a society to recognise a profound failure of empathy, understanding and basic humanity over a lengthy period”.

The report referred to the findings as an “appalling level of death”.

Leo Varadkar also issued an apology, saying: “I want to offer my own apology to the children who were hidden away, treated as a commodity, or as second-class citizens and to the mothers who for whom there was no other option but to give up their child.”

The report, which has been five years in the making, details the lives of women and children who lived at 14 mother and baby homes and four county homes during this period.