A public representative who was born in a mother and baby home won unanimous support from her colleagues to call on the government to buy the home rather than see it fall into the hands of private developers.
The Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary have announced they are selling a significant proportion of the former mother and baby home at Bessborough at Mahon, Cork and are to relinquish their involvement in the family centre there which cares for vulnerable families and children.
Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley got full backing from colleagues at a county council meeting when she asked the local authority write to Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, asking her to purchase Bessborough House and use it for something that would benefit the vulnerable in society.
In July 2014 Cllr Linehan Foley publicly disclosed for the first time that she was born at the home. She made the emotional statement at a meeting of the county council.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” the Independent councillor told colleagues about the aftermath of her birth at Bessborough in 1966.
At a recent meeting, she reiterated her connection with the building. Cllr Linehan Foley said she was lucky to be adopted by a very loving family and later managed to track down her birth mother.
Some type of memorial garden should be made there for the babies born there who never went home. It should also be in memory of the mothers.
"I want the minister to go into talks with the Order about selling it. I want it dealt with sensitively," Cllr Linehan-Foley said.
She agreed with Cllr Danielle Twomey who said the building should be brought into State ownership. Cllr Liam Quaide commended Cllr Linehan-Foley.
"Bessborough House is crowded with memories that we should honour and commemorate. The site contains burial grounds that have not been fully examined. A total of 470 infants, that we know of, died in Bessborough House between 1934 and 1953," he said.
"Essential therapeutic and social services for families as well as other community supports are currently provided on the site, and over 100 people are employed there. It would be a terrible loss to the state if these services were brought to a halt or if the history of Bessborough was not preserved."
Cllr Quaide pointed out that the State had purchased the Magdalene Laundry site on Sean McDermott Street in Dublin and plans are underway there to turn the building into 'a multipurpose site of conscience'.
"I believe the same should happen for Bessborough House," he said.
Cllr Noel Collins said the building should be taken over by the State "and be converted to accommodate the homeless".
Cllr Linehan-Foley agreed but added it could also be used to house women who'd been victims of domestic abuse.