Mother and baby home survivors have criticised the Commission of Investigation's final report as incomplete, a cop-out, and worse.
They also say it has not brought the closure or solace they wanted
For the Tuam Survivors Network, with 41 elderly members born in the middle of the last century, the release of the report at a time when they are isolated due to Covid-19 adds to the sense that their voices are not front and centre – a hope for so many for so long.
Volunteer with the group, Breeda Murphy, said: "I wish I could say it is a sense of relief but it's not, it's overwhelming in the darkness that we hoped would lift. Maybe Covid impacts on that."
She said members had lit candles for those who had died and that it would take months to unpick what is in the report and how best to move on.
The first reaction to the Mother and Baby Homes report from the Coalition of Survivors is: "Cop out“.— aoife moore. (@aoifegracemoore) January 12, 2021
"What occurred was but an aspect of the newly established State which was profoundly anti women both in its laws and culture and out of which emerged the Mother and Baby Homes." pic.twitter.com/DEAIwt0c4V
"The Taoiseach has said this, that we did this to ourselves, but in reality we didn't because the Church and the State, it was run by men, there was no semblance of understanding or compassion," she said.
Speaking on RTÉ radio, Tuam-based historian Catherine Corless, who did so much to bring the scandal of that institution to light, said the initial response from survivors to the report and an associated webinar has been one of disappointment and that it appears the report "skimmed over" the issue of illegal adoptions.
"We need to know what happened [with] all the deaths," she said, adding she wanted to know if the full report would delve into who was responsible for discarding the bodies of babies and toddlers in a sewage area in Tuam.
Ms Corless also said an apology from the religious orders at local level and the Church – including possibly from the Vatican – was required, as many survivors are upset at the idea that it was a matter of a failure of society.
A state apology following the Mother and Baby Home report is just not good enough. We need justice for the thousands of victims and survivors.— Brid Smith TD (@bridsmithTD) January 12, 2021
We need a full criminal investigation now and the assets of these institutions sequestered for the benefit of the survivors. pic.twitter.com/X0sOMlhKcS
The Coalition of Mother And Baby Home Survivors, an umbrella group consisting of the Bethany Home Survivors, the Castlepollard Mother & Baby home group and others, said it has "mixed feelings" over what it termed a "truly shocking" but "incomplete report".
The group said there was "strong evidence of physical and emotional abuse" and that "women were made to scrub floors and stairs and treated as slave labour and were also treated appallingly while in childbirth by denial of doctors, medical equipment and painkilling drugs".
However, the group said the report ignores the larger issue of the forced separation of single mothers and their babies and that any suggestion that what occurred was due to societal failures is a "cop out". It said the Government needs to honour commitments such as providing enhanced medical cards to survivors and funds for memorials for children who died.
Group member Paul Jude Redmond of the Catlepollard Mother and Baby home group said: "The Taoiseach has let it be known that he intends to issue an apology on behalf of the State but they will be hollow words without concrete action to back them up. Illegally adopted people must have their basic human rights vindicated by the State immediately."
Derek Leinster, of the Bethany homes Survivors group '98, said:
The Irish First Mothers group castigated the report, saying its shortcomings include not finding that mothers were coerced into giving up their children and not making recommendations on significant redress for the mothers affected.
"The official inquiry into mother and baby homes has absolved both the Church and State of any systemic responsibility for what it admits is the effective incarceration of pregnant mothers," it said.