It was 18 years ago that Padraig O’Morain wrote in The Irish Times about “Eileen,” whose baby was taken from her in a mother and baby home for adoption in the U.S.
Mother and baby homes were where young women who had conceived out of wedlock were sent to have their babies. They usually spent up to three years, more in some instances, working at the home after which the child was put up for adoption.
The publication in May 1996 of “Eileen’s” story in The Irish Times followed an announcement the previous month by then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dick Spring that files on the adoption of Irish babies in the U.S. had been found. It was said this offered hope that birth mothers and adopted children taken from them could meet again.
Very little has happened where the issue is concerned since then.
Even the deeply moving story of Philomena Lee, as recounted in the film Philomena last year, did not stir the national conscience to action. Even the Tuam story did not take fire immediately, when it broke two weeks ago.
Then it may well be the case that the Irish public is punch drunk with revelations of shocking abuses of children from the past. Since 2005 there have been four statutory reports into abuses of children in church-run institutions and parishes, as well as the 2013 report on the abuse of women in Magdalene laundries.