The chair of Meath County Council, Fianna Fáils, David Gilroy, has just read a lengthy statement of apology over the Mother and Baby home scandal into the record.

 

The statement, which can be seen below, specifically offers an unreserved apology to the children, mothers, and relatives of all who endured pain and suffering while resident at the Dunboyne Mother and Baby home

 

Statement in full;  As Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council and on behalf of the elected members, I wish to
apologise unreservedly to the girls, young women and their babies, the survivors and those
now deceased and their relatives for the pain and suffering caused while resident at the
Dunboyne Mother and Baby Home.
An Taoiseach Michéal Martin T.D. issued a formal apology on behalf of the State to former
residents of the Mother and Baby Home and County Homes institutions, following the
publication of the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby
Homes, (on January 12th).
The Government now intends to give detailed consideration to the Report over the coming
months with a view to developing a comprehensive Government Action Plan to address
eight specific themes to include:
• A survivor-centred approach;
• Apology;
• Access to Personal Information;
• Archiving and Databases;
• Education and Research;
• Memorialisation;
• Restorative Recognition;
• Dignified Burial.
In 1954, Meath County Council partnered with five neighbouring local authorities (Louth,
Longford, Monaghan, Cavan and Westmeath) to establish the Mother and Baby Home in
Dunboyne, which operated from 1955 until it closed in 1991. Due to the location of the
home, Meath County Council was the lead authority in the setting up of this institution and
this is set out in some detail in the published report.
The establishment of the home, known as Ard Mhuire, was the only new institution
established in the State for unmarried mothers in response to a Department of Health
circular issued to each city and county manager and each public assistance authority in
1952. The circular was quite specific about the role of such institutions.
UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL:
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1ST, 2021 AT 2.00PM
Meath County Council played a central role in the acquisition of the house and the
negotiation with the Good Shepherd Sisters for the establishment and running of a mother
and baby home in Dunboyne. This is outlined in the Report, which also sets out how the
Council was involved in the maintenance of the home, its financial arrangements and many
of the decision-making functions at Ard Mhuire, in the early years before the establishment
of the Heath Boards in 1970, when the North-Eastern Health Board took over from Meath
County Council as the relevant health authority.
The Report outlines that a total of 3,156 mothers were resident in Dunboyne over the
period. It was not intended that there would be any births there, but eight babies are
recorded as being born there and 1,148 of the children born to Dunboyne resident mothers
spent time there.
Many of the inspections carried out by the Department of Health while the facility was
operational and a number of the testimonies from former residents point to a home that
was well kept, it was clean and the residents were well looked after physically. However,
there were also concerns, and complaints outlined in the Report, about the adoption
process.
Meath County Council acknowledges its role in the establishment and operation of the
Dunboyne Mother and Baby Home. The Council apologies to the residents, their children,
their families and the relatives of those who resided in the Dunboyne Home and who
suffered or were mis-treated while resident there, when the home was under the control of
the Council from 1955 to 1970.
The Council also recognises that it had an association with the Castlepollard Mother and
Baby Home in Westmeath, which operated from 1935 to 1971. Meath County Council met
the cost of accommodating girls and women from Meath at the Castlepollard Home. The
Council notes that one of its Councillors wrote to the Department of Local Government in
1945 asking that it set up a Commission of Inquiry into conditions in Castlepollard but that
this ultimately did not result in any significant change. Again, the Council wishes to
apologise to the survivors and the families of those who were resident in Castlepollard.
In September 2016, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes
contacted Meath County Council in relation to records concerning the Mother and Baby
Home in Dunboyne. Given the period under consideration by the Commission, historical
records in relation to the administration of Meath County Council are archived in the County
Library and the Commission was given access to all available material.
Meath County Council will actively participate with Government in furthering the
development of the Government Action Plan as it relates to local government and as it
relates to county Meath.
Meath County Council commits to supporting local measures that form part of the suite of
follow-up actions, for example, in relation to memorialisation and access to archives and
records.
As Cathaoirleach, and with the agreement of the elected Council, I will write to the
Government requesting that it brings forward, without delay, the legislation required to
enable survivors to access their records and personal information, which will be an
important step in addressing the concerns expressed by the residents in Dunboyne about
the adoption process.
While the Council’s apology cannot undo the past, it is acknowledgement of our deep regret
that the girls and young women were failed by the State and a recognition that the Council
was part of that failure.