Thursday, 28 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Mother and Baby homes commission to extend investigation time

According to a report by Orla Ryan for yesterday's Journal the Mother and Baby home commission has 'been granted an extension frame for the publication of two of the three reports it's preparing...All reports are due to be completed by Feb.2018 now.'
If this is the case, will the investigation finally be more inclusive?
Will all the Mother and Baby homes, nursing homes and adoption agencies be investigated?

Are extra resources going to fund this extension? If so, where is the money coming from? 

We are told by Katherine Zappone that, "The extension is to accommodate the large numbers of witnesses coming forward and that all new information discovered is accurately recorded to give full understanding of the social history involved."

Can we believe that or is it some sort of delay tactic? We already know that the vaccine inquiry came to an abrupt end in 2002...

Whatever the actual reason, the extension is bound to cause a stir amongst ageing survivors from the homes. All we can do is watch things unfold and see what the interim report says in August.‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Tuam Spirt Babies - Donegal Yarnbomb

Just received this beautiful hand made 'keepsake' from Caroline Kuyper from Donegal Yarnbomb. It says on the label "May we never forget, may we continue to put our energies towards a kinder, more just and loving world." This white piece: Mother and Baby Hearts soft blanket of care, feather of babies spirits, jagged wound of grief. 5 shades of white. Thank you Caroline for taking the time and effort to contribute to our project. SadieXx  ‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬ There's still plenty of time if you want to get involved too, just watch the video here

Monday, 25 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Little Kite

Little Kite

Inspired by the keepsake that arrived in the post the other day, our 12 year old daughter decided to make one of her own. It's called 'Little Kite' to represent some of the older children from the 'Bon Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam. ‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬ There's still plenty of time if you want to get involved too, just watch the video here

Friday, 22 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - A Broken Heart

A Broken Heart

The first of the 'keepsakes' arrived in the post yesterday, 'A Broken Heart' came from a woman in Donegal and it speaks volumes. Even before the package was opened, there was a powerful feeling from it. So much has been poured into this little, white square of knitting and the impact of it brings up questions about this this lady and her experience but also about her connection to this project. We've never met and her name's not familiar, yet here was a hand written letter and a hand knitted item which took time, effort and thought to put together. It shifted something in me which is exactly what art should do.
'A Broken Heart' pulls at the heart strings and leaves us wondering. 
In response, I've decided to share everything that comes in from now on, so we can all access that experience and have an online archive of the work. We'll all glean a lot from this part of the process and it'd be good to recognise the unique qualities of the individual within the group. I've spoken to a few people who are in the midst of their pieces and it's so interesting to hear how they are encapsulating their thoughts which vary immensely. 
Really looking forward to seeing what evolves. .‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬ Sadie

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies – Keepsakes

Just received this beautiful little keepsake and a hand written letter in the post, just now, from a lady in Donegal. It's called 'Broken Heart. 'Thank you for taking the time and for being the very first contributor. It's deeply touching.‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

If you want to get involved there's plenty of time, just watch the video to find out how.


Tuam Spirit Babies - Atonement

Women and children were imprisoned in Ireland for the crimes of illegitamacy or poverty. They were brutally punished; often enduring heavy physical labour and held against their will for years upon end. Many were physically and sexually abused and the fundamental rights we accept readily as human beings were snatched from them. These were crimes against humanity. The Church and State were complicit in these acts and until they fully recognise this sordid past with an all inclusive judicial inquiry and an unreserved apology accompanied by generous monetary compensation, this cycle of apartheid (apartness) will continue to rear it’s ugly head.

The clearest evidence to date that the State hasn't acknowledged its past gross failings is in its treatment of Asylum seekers. The Direct Provision system is the current day equivalent of the 'homes' and therefore a legacy of them and represents a continuity of their injustice and horror. 

In order for the State to atone, it must end Direct Provision and tackle the housing crisis in order that children no longer are hauled up in inappropriate accommodation and exposed to unnecessary dangers.‪ #‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - In Tuam

We'll be in Tuam on Saturday 13th August to start phase two of the Tuam Spirit Babies project. Please come and say hello.‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Tuam Spirit Babies - The Journal on inquiry terms.

From yesterday's Journal 19th July 2016 - Author Aoife Barry

Mother and baby home survivors say their community is "torn in half" over inquiry terms

They are seeking the remit of the commission to be widened and will hold a protest against it today.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

MOTHER AND BABY home survivors are to protest against the government’s commission of inquiry into the homes today.
The survivors are all part of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors (CMABS), and they will be lodging a formal complaint with the government over the fact some homes are not included in the inquiry.
The group will hold a short protest outside the Dáil before meeting at the commission of inquiry’s headquarters on Baggot St, where they will hand in the official complaint. They are expected to hold a picket outside the building.
They are also appealing for a legal team to take on their case pro bono so that they can undertake a judicial review of the inquiry.
They say that Northern Ireland’s comparable historical abuse inquiry is making Ireland “look ridiculous”.
“Deeply unhappy”
Paul Redmond of Adoption Rights Now and Castlepollard mother and baby home told that the CMABS members are “deeply unhappy” with the inquiry.
He said that their biggest problem is that the inquiry “has the power to recommend to the government that it can expand its own terms of reference” and they are unhappy that certain survivor groups are not included in the scope of the inquiry.
He said that this included illegal adoptees. “We are looking for the terms of reference to be extended to cover all issues related to the treatment of single mothers and children in the country,” said Redmond.
The terms of reference can be read here.
He said that anyone who was not born in one of the inquiry’s named institutions “is completely excluded” because of the length of time that has elapsed since their cases.
CMABS had a full formal meeting with all the commissioners on the inquiry in January. “We put our case across to them – there’s no doubt we made our case,” said Redmond.
However he said that CMABS has not had a “definitive” answer on the issue.
It is understood that the commission cannot change its terms of reference – only the government can do this. However, it can make recommendations on changes to the terms.
The commission is not commenting on today’s protest.
Seeking justice
CMABS said that “survivors are dying without seeing justice and are profoundly wounded and injured” by the situation.
It’s expected that 30 – 40 people from across Ireland will attend today’s protest.
Asked if he had a message for the inquiry, Redmond said:
“Stop exclusion… stop tearing our community in half. The survivor community has been through enough; we deserve to be all treated equally and we deserve to be included.”
The commission is due to send a report on the inquiry to government next month.
Redmond said that if the commission doesn’t seek to extend the terms of reference, CMABS will be seeking a meeting with the Taoiseach.
The members of CMABS are Adoption Rights Now; The Bethany Home Survivors; Beyond Adoption Ireland; Adopted Illegally Ireland and the Castlepollard Mother and Baby Home group, in equal partnership with the Adoption Coalition Worldwide.
CMABS says it has offered the inquiry a low cost and speedy method to include all survivors. It is demanding an immediate acknowledgment, apology and redress from this government “while there is still time”.
CMABS is an umbrella group that came together in late 2013 to jointly submit a complaint to the UN Committee Against Torture.
The members of the commission of investigation are Professor Mary E Daly, Judge Yvonne Murphy and Dr William Duncan. The full list of homes being investigated can be found here.
By Aoife Barry - for The Journal

Monday, 18 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Missing mothers cont..

I always made the assumption that women interned at the Mother and Baby homes were young and unmarried but after pondering the age range of the five missing mothers from yesterday's post (24-42 years) I'm left with more questions. 
Bon Secours Mother and Baby home Tuam 

What kinds of backgrounds were these women from?
Were they unmarried?
Did they have other children?
What were the circumstances surrounding their eventual internment at the 'home'?
Did money exchange hands?
How long were they in the 'home' for?
Who signed them in and why?
Was this a common practice?
Were they returnees?
Are any of the babies still alive?(Patricia Hickey and Mary Bridget Joyce don't have death certs. in that case, what happened to them? Where are they?)

Questions were asked in the early 1990's when nuns who owned the vast Hyde Park Convent in Dublin wanted to sell the land where there's now a car park. It was the unmarked 'burial site' (a blank field) for former magdalene laundry workers. The nuns employed a grave digger Barney Curran(based in Kildare) BBC Our World 2014 Ireland's Hidden Bodies Hidden Secrets to dig up the remains of 133 bodies of women (it was done in secret.) The nuns stated there were 133 bodies beneath the soil, when in fact, 22 other bodies were also discovered. Barney observed that many of the bodies exhumed had plaster casts on their arms, legs, ankles.

Why did they have broken limbs?
Was this something experienced by women in other institutions or just typical to the Hyde Park Convent? 
Are there death records for these women?
How and when did they die?
What did they do with the bones once they were dug up?
Were these women acknowledged in a memorial?
Why was this done in secret?
Why was there such a casual reference to the exact numbers of women buried there by the nuns?
Is there are a correlation between the treatment of the women at the laundries and the women at the Mother and Baby Homes?

Some women went from orphanages to laundries and often to mother and baby homes and spent a lifetime interred behind walls. 

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Missing Mothers

We know from Catherine Corless's findings that five mothers died during their stay at the Tuam Mother and Baby home but their remains cannot be accounted for.dailymail

Mary Hickey died on June 3rd 1961 on the day she gave birth to her baby she was 36 years old. No burial record. Her baby died too.

Mary Joyce died on August 25th 1948 of whooping cough and cardiac failure. There is no 
burial record and she had a baby named Mary.

Bridget O'Reilly, 32 years, died from measles on May 20th 1947. No burial record.

Annie Roughneen, 42 years, died on August 13 1941 from TB. No burial record for her and her baby died only a few weeks before that.

Margaret Henry died of cardiac failure aged 24 years on April 4th 1940, her baby died a few weeks previous to her death. No burial record.

Where are there?

Is it possible that they, like some of the children are buried at the site too?

We also know from the findings from the 'Prime Time' programme 'Anatomy of a Scandal' that large numbers of baby cadavers were sent to medical schools to be dissected (without the mothers prior knowledge or consent.)

Is it a possibility that the mothers remains were sent there too? 
It was a common practice during the workhouse era.

We also know that human organs are traded on the black market now. 
Is it a possibility that this happened to some of the mothers?

We don't know. 

But what we do know is that places like Bolivia used to sell cadavers on the black market. I wrote a thesis back in 1993 focusing on Taboos in art and it observed artists who crossed the line of human decency and directly exploited either themselves or others in their unethical art.
I came across one particular artist named Joel Peter Witkin (I'm deliberately not going to include a link here) who had originally been a war photographer and during his time in this position witnessed and recorded some horrific scenes. It was something he never really got over but instead became obsessed with. All his work featured cadavers which he rearranged and photographed, until they looked like Carravagio 'still life's.' He imported the bodies from Bolivia and he was actually allowed to exhibit the resulting images in art galleries where they were sold. Totally unethical and outrageous, yet somehow was allowed to happen.     

Could this have happened to some of the mothers from the home?
The findings from the homes (nationwide) so far have been of the most sordid and dark kind. If the babies were traded and seen as a commodity then why not the mothers?  Anything's possible. 

These are not allegations but questions.
The vaccine inquiry was halted by the Supreme Court in 2002. Why was that?

Can we really trust the judicial inquiry's procedures and will all of the findings actually be revealed?

We don't know. 
In the mean time, there are questions over the remains of those women, as Catherine Corless has suggested, a dig at the site will yield the best results..‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - The evidence

There are four eyewitness reports from Mary Moriarty, Julia Devaney, Frannie Hopkins and Barry Sweeney stating there are the remains of numerous babies and children buried at the site at Tuam. What we don't know is how many are buried there? What condition their bones are in? and if any adults are along side them? Please follow the link for more info..‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Podcast by Philip Boucher Hayes for Drive time 04/06/14

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Injustices

I had a client last week and the word injustice came up for him during the treatment. Interestingly, he felt it was something he didn't want anymore. He was sick of feeling preoccupied with injustices, he didn't like the feeling of having an issue weigh heavily upon him and wanted to get rid of it. Sometimes this is exactly what we need to do for self preservation and sanity. However, going to the root of why a particular issue resonates with us can also be productive and healing.

We are bombarded with injustices daily. We can't tackle everything, so increasing our own vitality and doing as much as we can on a personal level is as valid a contribution as any. However, there are times when we have to step out of our comfort zone, follow our gut instincts and go the extra mile to see what it is that attracts us to a particular issue and why we feel the need to do something about it.

Over the past two years, the Tuam Babies scandal has crept into my subconscious and I've found it virtually impossible to shake, as I've mentioned before my meditations and dreams often involve the happenings of the home and I wake up in the mornings needing to exorcise an aspect of it into writing/drawing or some thing. This is curious. I don't know where it's taking me. I've connected to the general public and I am wholly reliant on them as to whether this project 'Tuam Spirit Babies' is viable or not. Maybe the writing I am doing is enough. Who knows? This place of not knowing and allowing things to unfold is out of my comfort zone. I feel vulnerable (only a smidgen of what those in the homes experienced) and I'm left asking questions such as:

What is it within this story that I need to heal about myself? 
I know very little about the Irish side of my family, maybe there is some ancestral link. 
Who knows?

What are the injustices within this story?

Who were the victims? 
When are we the victims?

Who were the perpetrators? 
When are we the perpetrators?

Why this story? 

Why now?

Who is lying beneath the soil at the home site?
How many?

What could we tell from their bones if they were exhumed?

The mistreatment of women and children is something that has happened and is happening all over the world and to this day in Ireland. 
The timing of this story is a factor; so much had come out about the cruelty experienced in the industrial schools and magdalene laundries and it was the sheer numbers and the proximity of Tuam to where I am based that resonated, that, and perhaps a case of 'NIMBY' that has also got under my skin.

When we start asking these kind of questions, we still see the injustice but it has a z`Many terrible things happened at the Mother and Baby home in Tuam and indeed in all the other 'homes' nationwide. Many people were involved at many different levels, it's very complex. But, it was an injustice. It's easy to apportion blame but what are we doing about it?

This all happened in the past. Children died a long time ago but the repercussions of it are enormous. Survivors must feel so damaged, lacking in confidence and the aspect of 'not knowing' must be torturous. The injustice is keeping them in this place of turmoil if we do nothing about it. 

In the meantime, life goes on. The sun is shining today. It's the summer holidays and no doubt, children living on the estate will continue to play on the playground (a probable burial site) just as they always do.

Where's the injustice in that?.‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Why a criminal investigation is needed

There are a a number of mitigating aspects to suggest that the Bon Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co.Galway is a crime scene.

In June, the Irish Examiner revealed that senior HSE officials expressed concern that up to 1,000 children may have been “trafficked” to the US from the Tuam Home in “a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State”. The revelations were contained in an internal note of a teleconference in October 2012 with Phil Garland and then head of the Medical Intelligence Unit, Davida De La Harpe.

An allegation

Prime Time investigates award winning programme 'Anatomy of a scandal' aired June 9th 2014 

 ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ was an investigation into medical research and vaccine trials carried out on children and babies in Mother & Baby homes and other institutions until 1973.  During the making of the programme we uncovered a number of previously unknown trials.  However we also stumbled across the truly shocking story of ‘illegimate’ babies who didn’t survive.
Sally Mulready was one of four siblings born in Mother and Baby homes around 1950. Her Mother was a  waitress and home help, called Sheila Deasy.   When she became pregnant, it was to a former workhouse called St Pat’s on Dublin’s Navan Road that she was sent.  St Pat’s was a former workhouse, with high rates of child mortality, in common with other Mother and Baby homes at the time.
In 1947 Sally’s brother John died in St Pat’s.  He was two months’ old.  The record of his death tells us that he died of ‘inanition’ or ‘failure to thrive’.  His records also note  that he was not buried for three years.  Initially dismissed as a clerical error, it soon became apparent that he was not alone.  The cemetery logbook recorded a series of entries, with John Deasy among them, as ‘AS’.    This turned out to stand for ‘Anatomical Study’.    John’s baby body had been used for medical research by anatomy students at Trinity.  There is no record that the consent of his mother was sought or given.
During the making of ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ we discovered that the bodies of four hundred and sixty ‘illegimate’ infants had been sent to anatomy laboratories between 1940 and 1965.  The practise may have been a macabre echo of the workhouse practise of sending unclaimed cadavers to Medical Schools, where they were in short supply, highly valued.   The difference of course was that these bodies had, for the most part, living mothers.   The Daughters of Charity which ran St Pat’s said they had no knowledge of this practise. Yet its continuation until so recently tells us something of the value placed on women and children in these institutions. RTE news
Apart from the fact that women were often held against their will in the 'homes' for indefinite periods of time carrying out unpaid duties (is this not slavery?) 
Several children died of marasmus (a severe form of malnutrition) 
and so the list goes on...and so did the inhumane treatment of women and children (crimes against humanity)

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Catherine Corless (genealogist and historian) who discovered the truth about the missing bodies of 796 babies and small children, a judicial inquiry into some of the homes (details below) has been ignited. However, is this sufficient?

What is a criminal investigation?
Criminal investigation is an applied science that involves the study of facts, used to identify, locate and prove the guilt of an accused criminal. A complete criminal investigation can include searchinginterviewsinterrogations, evidence collection and preservation and various methods of investigation.[1] Modern-day criminal investigations commonly employ many modern scientific techniques known collectively as forensic science.
Criminal investigation is an ancient science that may have roots as far back as c. 1700 BCE in the writings of the Code of Hammurabi. In the code it is suggested that both the accuser and accused had the right to present evidence they collected.[2] In the modern era criminal investigations are most often done by government police forcesPrivate investigators are also commonly hired to complete or assist in criminal investigations.

It is beyond comprehension how you can examine 14 Mother and Baby Homes while excluding adoption agencies like St Patrick’s Guild – particularly considering what it has admitted in terms of illegal birth registrations
 The Mother and Baby Homes Commission has yet to decide whether to ask for an extension of its remit to examine other institutions.
It comes as adoption groups have reiterated calls for a number of adoption agencies as well as a range of State and private maternity homes to be included in the investigation.
Under its terms of reference, the Mother and Baby Homes Commission will investigate how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 14 State-linked religious institutions.
The three-year inquiry — which has a €23.5m budget — will examine mother and baby homes, county homes, vaccine trials on children, and illegal adoptions where babies were trafficked abroad.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, the Commission said it “not yet made any decision about recommending any extension of its terms of reference”.
St Patrick’s Guild has been commonly cited by campaigners as a glaring omission from the inquiry. The agency holds 13,500 adoption files — one-quarter of all adoption files in the country.
Last year, the Irish Examiner revealed that the agency was excluded from the scope of the inquiry despite the Government being told in June 2013 by an Adoption Authority (AAI) delegation that the agency was aware of “several hundred” illegal birth registrations.
A note of a meeting between two nuns from the agency and representatives of the Child and Family Agency, Tusla, on February 3 last year also revealed that  St Patrick’s Guild’s records contained “some illegal registrations” and that “full details are available on the majority of cases”.
The AAI also named St Rita’s private nursing home – also excluded from the inquiry – as a “huge source of illegal registrations”.
Claire McGettrick of the Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) said she expected the Commission to add to the current “short list” if institutions it is examining.
“The legislation makes an express provision for the Commission to add to the initial list and it has resourced the Commission very well with a team of historians led by Prof. Mary Daly, President of the Royal Irish  Academy.”
“Historians realise there were many institutions and agencies involved in the Mother and Baby home sector in Ireland – JFMR and ARA have given a list to the Commission of some 170 institutions, agencies and individuals which our organisations and academic historians are also investigating,” she said.
Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes (CMABS) said it was a “national disgrace” that so many people were being excluded from the inquiry when so little effort is required to include everyone.
“If the Inquiry ‘sampled’ as little as four or five further institutions and a home birth, then all survivors would be included. The sample would include a holding centre such as Temple Hill, a public Maternity Hospital such as Holles Street, a so-called orphanage such as Westbank or Saint Philomena’s, a private nursing home such as St Rita’s and a home birth where the baby was forcibly removed by a social worker or a member of the religious acting on behalf of an adoption agency which would be investigated,” he said.
Kathy McMahon of the Irish First Mothers group said the Commission needed to adopt a “fully inclusive model”.
“Otherwise, we are on track to cherry-pick the truth so as to exclude the majority of women from consideration,” she said. conallofatharta
criminal investigation is the best course of action, it would yield better results. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Spirit of Baby

Over the past year, I've met socially and through the course of my work, many women who have lost a baby, either in pregnancy/post pregnancy; recently or in the distant past. It's something I hear about an awful lot and some of the stories have been both heart wrenching to hear and devastating to the life of the teller. It's clear, that some women have the ability to pick themselves up from their experience and are able to bounce back with resilience and emerge, somehow stronger, whilst others suffer tremendously, often to going to their graves still carrying the hurt.
The obvious theme is the sense of loss but also the feeling of disconnect from their babies and more often than not, themselves.

Now just take a moment, if you will, to imagine a mother with a perfectly healthy baby, then see it wrenched from her without her consent, not knowing if it will be vaccinated, traded, adopted or in death, dissected by medical students; all without her prior permission or knowledge. It's too sordid and horrific for most of us to even visualise, let alone comprehend, yet this was a reality for many women only a few decades ago here in Ireland. I have yet to meet someone who has had this experience but a few have shared their stories by email. Whilst any kind of natural death is awful and desperately sad, it has a sense of conclusion, the mother (and father) have the chance to bury their baby in a dignified manner if it has gone to full term or recognise fully (if they choose to) any loss before term but imagine the living hell for any woman and sometimes girls who were interred Mother and Baby homes, sometimes for life, not ever knowing what happened to her beloved infant. The torment must be unbearable.
One of the illustrations I did for a baby memorial 
Since last October, I have delivered several workshops on the theme of 'Spirit Babies' mostly to women who have had a loss of their own but some have come along because they have felt the connection to the title or tuned in on some empathetic level, either for healing from their own birth experience or needing to recognise some aspect of it within themselves. Each time the location has been different and the perspective changed along with it. The last workshop concentrated on the 'Spirit of Baby' which I have discovered, much like baby itself, is constantly evolving. It certainly isn't a benign thing either, it's not the cute, cuddly, sleeping baby image, it's far more complex and sophisticated than that and later on in this blog, I will bring your attention to some of the personal encounters I've had. For the time being, however, here's an A-Z of what I believe 'Spirit of Baby' to be at this point in time. It's bound change and I'm sure you'll have a few more aspects of your own to add too..‪#‎Tuamspiritbabies‬

For Baboró 2011
A - Anarchistic

B - Beguiling

C - Curious

D - Dangerous

E - Enormous

F - Fearless

G - Giving 

Unknown illustrator
H - Helpless

I - intelligent

J - Joyful

K - Knowing

L - Loving

M - Marvellous

N - Non - judgmental

O - Open

P - Persistent

Q - Quick

For Baboró 2011

R - Real

S - Stimulating

T - Tremendous

U -  Unstoppable

V - Vast

W - Wilful

X - xXxX

Y - Young

Z - Zany