'The state failed you' - Taoiseach apologises to survivors of mother and baby homes

The Taoiseach has apologised for the "profound generational wrong" to survivors of homes for unmarried mothers and their children.Micheal Martin said the mothers and children were failed by the State. Speaking in the Dail, the Taoiseach said: "I apologise for the shame and stigma which they were subjected to and which, for some, remains a burden to this day. "In apologising, I want to emphasise that each of you were in an institution because of the wrongs of others. "Each of you is blameless, each of you did nothing wrong and has nothing to be ashamed of. "Each of you deserved so much better. "The lack of respect for your fundamental dignity and rights as mothers and children who spent time in these institutions is humbly acknowledged and deeply regretted. "The Irish State, as the main funding authority for the majority of these institutions, had the ultimate ability to exert control over these institutions, in addition to its duty of care to protect citizens with a robust regulatory and inspection regime. "This authority was not exerted and the State's duty of care was not upheld. "The State failed you, the mothers and children in these homes." Mr Martin said it is the duty of a republic to be willing to hold itself to account.The institutions for those who fell pregnant out of wedlock produced high levels of infant mortality, misogyny and stigmatisation of some of society's most vulnerable, an independent report said.

Many mother and baby homes were run by Catholic nuns.

The Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes found "appalling" levels of death amongst the very youngest, more than one in 10 of children present.

Micheál Martin delivered the public acknowledgement on behalf of the State in the Dáil on Wednesday.

On Tuesday he said the scandal over many decades was a dark chapter in the country's history.

He added that the Republic had displayed a "warped" attitude to sexuality and intimacy in the past.

Some of the institutions were owned and run by the local health authorities - the county homes, Pelletstown, Tuam and Kilrush.

Others were owned and run by religious orders, for example the three homes run by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Bessborough, Sean Ross and Castlepollard (the Sacred Heart homes).

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has apologised to survivors.

Some of the homes were in very poor physical condition.

Many of the women did suffer emotional abuse and were often subject to denigration and derogatory remarks, the commission of investigation's report said.

Almost 9,000 children died, approximately 15% of all youngsters who were in the institutions, the investigation found.

Major causes included respiratory infections and gastroenteritis.

The proportion of women admitted to such homes in Ireland was probably the highest in the world in the 20th century, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes said.

There were about 56,000 unmarried mothers and 57,000 children in the 18 mother and baby homes and county homes investigated.

There are now renewed calls for an inquiry into Mother and Baby homes in Northern Ireland following the publication of the report.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International said: “Northern Ireland must now follow the Republic of Ireland and instigate a full-scale inquiry into the appalling tragic scandal of Mother and Baby Homes here.

“These distressing findings echo the serious concerns we have long held about how women and babies were treated in near-identical institutions in Northern Ireland."More reading: Mother and baby home victims call for Northern Ireland public inquirySara O'Kane reports: