LONDON – The Irish government is poised to make a formal apology for abuses in church-run homes for unmarried women and their babies, where thousands of infants died and were sometimes buried in mass graves.
The final report of an inquiry into the mother-and-baby homes is to be published Tuesday. Prime Minister Micheal Martin is expected to apologize on behalf of the Irish state later in the week.
The Sunday Independent newspaper, which disclosed leaked details of the report, said it found that 9,000 children died in 18 different homes during the 20th century. One in seven of all children born in the homes died, far above Ireland's nationwide infant mortality rate.
Church-run homes in Ireland housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women and their babies for most of the 20th century. The institutions have been subject to intense public scrutiny since historian Catherine Corless in 2014 tracked down death certificates for nearly 800 children who died at the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway — but could only find a burial record for one child.
Investigators later found a mass grave containing the remains of babies and young children in an underground sewage structure on the grounds of the home, which was run by an order of Catholic nuns and closed in 1961.
The last of Ireland's mother-and-baby homes did not shut down until the late 1990s.
The inquiry is part of a process of reckoning in overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Ireland to come to terms with a history of abuses in church-run institutions, including the shunning and shaming of unwed mothers, many of whom were pressured into giving up their babies for adoption.