Truth forum to hear tales of mother and baby homes

By Justine Mccarthy
Sunday Times
February 7, 2021

Lives lost were honoured on St Brigid’s Day last week by Herstory Light Show

Varadkar backs ‘less clinical’ look at abuse in church and state institutions

Leo Varadkar, the tanaiste, wants to establish a public truth forum to hear the stories of women and children who survived abusive church and state institutions, and of those who ran them.

“I very much respect the painstaking work done by the commission on mother and baby homes and previous bodies like the Ryan Commission,” said the Fine Gael leader.

“They spent years listening to testimony and examining documentary evidence to try to establish the truth of what happened, to a legal or academic standard. That’s important for the state, for society and for historical accuracy — but for many survivors it can be cold and clinical, including the fact it’s been done behind closed doors.”

A forum on truth, gender and transformation was proposed by Katherine Zappone when she was minister for children and youth affairs in the previous government. Varadkar, taoiseach at the time, supported the idea and a memo was being prepared for cabinet when last year’s general election was called.

Zappone envisaged the forum as a state-funded but independent body, whose report would start a process of national reconciliation.


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