The Irish government has confirmed that the remains of almost 500 “unclaimed” infants were used for medical examinations and nearly 2,000 were put up for adoption in the United States.
A document released by the government also shows that the remains of 474 babies were sent to medical schools between 1940 and 1965, without the consent of their families.
The report also shows that of the nearly 2,000 children sent to the United States for adoption there are few or no records of parental consent. Many were apparently sold to wealthy Catholic families.
It was also announced that Judge Yvonne Murphy, the author of a report into the practice of symphysiotomy (medically breaking the pelvis during birth), will chair the official commission of inquiry into the mother and baby homes in Ireland.
The planned investigation came about after Galway historian Catherine Corless brought to light the alleged 796 children buried in a mass grave outside the Catholic-run, Bon Secours home, in Tuam.
Minister for Children, James Reilly said the inquiry could take some time to finalize. The terms of reference will not be known until the fall at the earliest.
The former Minister for Health, Reilly, said, “It is a very complex issue to deal with.
"There is concern about how the terms of reference are set in these commissions, because they very much influence the duration of the commission's work, and the costs that are sometimes associated with it."
He also said the government intends to review and reform arrangements for people wishing to access adoption information. Reilly said the government recognizes this is a “pressing concern for many individuals.”
The full report is available online here.
With relation to the those children put up for adoption in the United States the report states:
According to the former Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan the commission will investigate the high death rates in the state's ten Catholic-run homes, forced adoptions and involuntary drugs tests. Dublin's Protestant-run Bethany Home will also be included.
Survivors groups have urged the inclusion of the Magdalene Laundries and a wider focus on children born out of wedlock.
After the release of the report the Coalition of Mother and Baby home Survivors (CMABS) announced their disappointment with the appointment of Judge Yvonne Murphy over an international judge. They said the interdepartmental report, while reasonably comprehensive, had some glaring omissions.
Paul Redmond, a spokesman for the group said “The fact that only registered births are used to calculate figures in the nine M&B homes instead of the numbers of expectant mothers also seriously misrepresents and downplays the numbers involved. Additionally, the issue of illegal adoptions has not been mentioned.”
Derek Leinster, Chairperson of the Bethany Survivors Group, added on the omission of the Protestant West Bank Home from the report, “The abuse this group suffered has never been investigated and if this report has its way, it never will."