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Reacting to the Taoiseach’s apology to survivors of Mother and Baby Homes today, Social Democrats TD for Cork South-West, Holly Cairns, commented:

“This apology is long overdue and comes after decades of silence, decades of shame, decades of misogynistic control and abuse perpetrated and facilitated by State and church authorities.

“Ireland’s history of using shame and fear to control women and their bodies is truly horrifying in its scale and impact.

The ‘we’ narrative around this report needs to be addressed. Yes, society played a part, but this abuse was clearly facilitated and carried out by a powerful State and religious orders who tolerated no opposition.

“The report paints a bleak picture of a country that virtually outlawed sex outside marriage. This was public policy. There was no sex education, a ban on contraception, no access to abortion and virtual immunity for rapists.

“Pregnancies were inevitable – and when they happened, the girls and women were left with nowhere else to go.

“The shame used to control and incarcerate women and children for the crime of getting pregnant was endemic in our society and it was misplaced.

“It is time we directed this shame where it belongs: shame on the people who committed these horrendous crimes; shame on the religious orders who oversaw it; and shame on successive governments for facilitating and condoning it.

“If we are to genuinely respond to this report, we must ensure survivors are given redress, that justice is vigorously pursued and that the people and organisations who committed these crimes are pursued and prosecuted.

“Shame on us all if we settle for anything less.”

January 13, 2021

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