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Doll hanging from the gates of Ireland's government buildings in protest of the mass grave discovered in Tuam. Photo by: Photocall

Irish government slow to act over mother and baby home investigation

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Doll hanging from the gates of Ireland's government buildings in protest of the mass grave discovered in Tuam. Photo by: Photocall

The Irish government has changed its Minister for Children twice in two months.

It has also delayed publishing its terms of reference for an investigation into the alarming practices of Catholic-run mother and baby homes in the state until it returns from its summer recess in September.

If there’s a crisis, the government is acting as if they are unaware of it.

In fact, they have been dawdling so ostentatiously that they have been strongly criticized by a UN human rights panel – for a remarkable third time – for failing to conduct a prompt investigation into widespread allegations of abuse.

In June the country – and the world – were appalled by a startling series of allegations of abuse, mistreatment and neglect of women and children at state-funded Catholic mother and baby homes as well as the now notorious Magdalene laundries.

In May an unmarked grave was revealed in Tuam, County Galway where the bodies of up to 800 children could be buried. Lists of unusually high mortality rates – that far surpassed even those of children born into slum conditions – were published in the same month.

In July new claims alleging widespread forced adoptions that occurred for decades and often resulted in significant cash donations from the adopting parents hit the headlines.

Impatient over the slowness of the official response some campaigners in Ireland are gathering evidence of the alleged abuses themselves, which they say proves that Catholic nuns disposed of the bodies of babies born out of wedlock.

With the help of an archaeologist, they're currently trying to determine whether thousands of babies could be buried in unmarked graves.

Meanwhile in a preliminary report published this month by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs it has been revealed that “between the years 1940-1965, 474 unclaimed infant remains were transferred to Anatomy Departments in Ireland.”

“Mother and Baby Homes were amongst the institutions from where such remains were transferred,” the report said.

The investigation also revealed that at least 123 children from mother and baby homes were used for testing trial vaccines manufactured by Wellcome Laboratories – which is now known as Glaxo Wellcome.

The report could find no evidence that the researchers obtained consent, or if they did, from whom.

Crisis? What crisis?

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