Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Catholic Ireland Where Nuns Sold Dead Babies

Bessborough Mother and Baby Home, Cork.
Highest infant mortality rate of any religious-run institution.
Pat Flanagan column: Selling 1,000 dead babies shows how much Catholic Church hated children - Pat Flanagan - Irish Mirror Online

The fifth interim report of the Irish Government's Commission Of Investigation On Mother And Baby Homes, published a few days ago, has added yet more horror to the catalogue of horrors that the homes became under the Catholic Church's supervision.

The homes were run by Catholic nuns and became almost autonomous, being accountable to no-one but themselves. They served as homes for pregnant unmarried women and mothers and became virtual places of punishment with both the women and their babies treated as sub-human and worthless by the nuns, who saw them as sinners and the products of sin. When they died, and they died very often, they were not even accorded respect as human beings.

Mistreated and malnourished, infant mortality was much higher than in the outside community. In one home the infant mortality rate was 68%! Deaths registered with the HSE by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart total 470 infants and 10 women between 1937 and 1953. However, the sisters lied to State inspectors, admitting to only 353 deaths. Even so, the inspectors ignored the fact that 20% of these deaths were recorded as from 'marasmus' (severe malnutrition). Children were being starved to death by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

The report also detailed how one porter made a bit on the side by selling dead babies and children for ten shillings (65c) a time. The Commission has found that almost 1,000 dead babies and children were sold to Dublin Medical Schools between 1920 and 1977. The report says:

The Combined Anatomical Register of the Dublin Medical Schools records that all but 18 of the children received as anatomical subjects were “illegitimate” children. Children used as anatomical subjects in the Dublin Medical Schools were aged between 10 minutes and 15 years at the time of death.

The scandal came to light due to the persistence of an amateur local historian, Catherine Corless, who discovered that the record of deaths did not match the record of burials for the Tuam Mother and Babies home. Subsequent investigation discovered unmarked mass graves and the bodies of babies and children dumped in a disused septic tank.

The report also reveals there is evidence of similar unceremonious disposal of dead babies at the Sean Ross home in Tipperary.

The commission also reported that they had been unable to discover the vast majority of the 900 children who died at the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork.

Pat Finnegan, a former caretaker at the Bessborough home related how dead babies would be passed out of a window at about midnight, to be buried in an unmarked and unrecorded grave in an area now marked on a map of the site as "Children's Burial Ground". He reported that this went on for years and years.

There are now demands that the Bessborough site be declared a crime scene and that a proper geophysical examination of the site be carried out. Earlier this month, Cork City Council halted demolition and development work at the site.








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