Mother and baby home campaigners have said as many as 180 institutions that dealt with unmarried mothers and children need to be examined by the commission.
It comes as the Irish Examiner revealed two death registers listing almost 800 names of infants who died in Bessborough and Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby homes were handed over to the HSE in 2011 by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Last week, the Mother and Baby Homes Commission confirmed “significant quantities” of infant remains were found at the Tuam site.
The Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) said hundreds of agencies dealt with unmarried women and their children, not simply 14 mother and baby homes.
“We are aware of over 180 institutions, agencies and individuals who were involved with Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children. Little is known of the conditions and practices — including burial practices and grave locations— of these institutions, most of which are not on the commission’s terms of reference,” said a statement.
Responding to the fact the HSE, and now Tusla, is in possession of the details of hundreds of infant deaths that occurred in Bessborough and Sean Ross Abbey, Susan Lohan of ARA said it was clear the agencies had “neither the will or wit” to understand the importance of the records.
“They must immediately publish a detailed schedule of all the records, particularly those adoption related they possess, and to make efforts to inform the people whose lives are documented within those archives,” she said.
The Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors said the inquiry should not examine just individual institutions but focus on the wider question of how women and children were treated.
“It is deeply unfair and hurtful to our community that so many of our fellow survivors have been omitted from the inquiry. The real issue here is Ireland’s treatment of single mothers and their babies, not what happened to some of them behind the high walls of the mother and baby homes. There cannot be a hierarchy of survivors, we are all equal and we need immediate full inclusion for all survivors,” said a statement.
Meanwhile, gardaí have been in contact with the coroner in north Galway in relation to the Tuam discovery. A senior officer is also in contact with Garda HQ, which is tracking the situation.
Garda sources said the course of events will be determined once the coroner forms an opinion on whether or not the children died of natural causes and if there needs to be an exhumation for that purpose and/or to try and identify the remains. The coroner has not yet offered any public comment on the situation.
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