Bessborough Mother and Baby Home survivor says a redress scheme is essential

Bessborough Mother and Baby Home survivor says a redress scheme is essential

Terry Healy and her husband, retired Comdt Peter Riordan (Irish Army).

Bessborough mother and baby home survivor, Terry Healy, has hit out against claims in the Mother and Baby Homes report that there was “no evidence” to suggest the Catholic Church forcibly adopted out children.

In an interview with Clem Ryan on Kfm Radio, Terry discussed the personal letter she shared with the Irish Examiner in 2018 and her disagreement on the recent investigation into Ireland’s mother and baby homes, saying the claims that nuns and priests were not involved in forced adoptions was not true: “The Catholic Church ran Ireland at the time, that’s the way it was.” 

Terry, who was 26 years old when she became pregnant in 1977, spent seven months in the mother and baby home. Unlike many others, she was able to keep her baby.

In response to Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s apology, Terry thought he was sincere but the Catholic Church must also take responsibility and apologise for their actions:

I thought Micheál Martin did a sincere apology … but it doesn’t mean anything to me because this is now. It was then and the people back then that caused the problems.

Terry argues that a proper redress scheme is needed whereby the State, Catholic Church and religious orders take responsibility and apologise to the victims: “I would love to see the Catholic Church come out and say something and the nuns will have to become part of the redress scheme. They just will.” 

In 2018, Terry wrote that she “fought like a lioness” to keep her son, Justin, from being forcibly adopted to a family in the United States.

Fortunately for Terry, the nun the mothers nicknamed “Batman” because she would “swoop in like a bat” and take newborns from their mothers was not there the night Terry went into labour, so she was brought to St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork to deliver her baby.

Terry was determined she would not let her child be adopted and battled in Bessborough to keep Justin: “When the priest in Dublin phoned me in Bessborough to congratulate me on the birth of my son and to organise the adoption, I told him to fuck off and leave us alone.” 

Unlike many other women, Terry left the mother and baby home with her child who she raised at her family home in Dublin.

“I have many stories to tell, but I was shaped by Bessborough. I’m happily married to my soulmate, whom I met many years later and he is from Cork.” 

Terry now has nine stepchildren, two of which have special needs which she currently helps care for, and of course her “best friend” — “the son I always wanted, my amazing, wonderful, beautiful son Justin.”

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