Sunday, 12 March 2017

Commission of Investigation Announcement on Tuam Mother and Baby Home: Statements - Maureen O'Sullivan TD

Here is the extract of Maureen O'Sullivan's statement at the Dail debate on Tuam

Commission of Investigation Announcement on Tuam Mother and Baby Home: Statements 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate

 Vol. 942 No. 2 Unrevised 11 o’clock

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan: 

We meet so many people, individuals and groups in our political lives, and there will always be some who will make a significant impact on us.

For me, some of those people are the women I met from the Magdalen laundries and from the Association of Mixed Race Irish. I met the latter group several times over the years and with them I met the then Minister, Senator James Reilly.

For me, it was the additional burdens, heartbreak and pain for those in these institutions who were of mixed race. I know Rosemary Adaser has been speaking in the media about her experiences, which are very similar to the others from the group whom I met.

The commission of investigation is specifically examining if any group was systematically treated differently on any grounds, including race. The association is satisfied that this has been included. However, this has to be included in the terms of reference drawn up for any investigation involving children or institutions. There is also a need for suitably-qualified people to assist in investigations into race.

The Association of Mixed Race Irish has wanted to see the interim report to examine if its members' issues are being adequately addressed. Their admission files to mother and baby homes listed their colour under the section "Defects". Regrettably, the Ryan report did not deal directly with race. The group also wants to know the numbers of mixed-race infants who passed through all of the mother and baby homes, particularly St. Patrick's mother and baby home on the Navan Road. All these questions have to be answered and all these issues addressed.

This means the terms of reference have to be wide and flexible enough, particularly with sensitive handling from trained professionals. I know some people will want to speak in public, but others will want to do so in private. Both have to be respected.

Following requests from survivors who objected to the word "home" being used as they find it offensive, we had a discussion with the Minister. I know from that exchange that she was aware of the emotional impact of using that word to describe an institution of horror. 

Under the Equality Act, any investigation with children in institutions has to include race. If there is a need for a criminal investigation, then it should happen. Will the terms of reference do? What is necessary to get to the truth to get justice for everybody involved? At times when we feel that is the worst we can hear, something else emerges much worse. One of members of the Association of Mixed Race Irish has stated:

 The Dublin health authority’s mother and baby home made many references to my colour in reports for no obvious reason other than to note or highlight racial bias. For example, two psychiatrists’ reports in 1967 referred to me as "dark-skinned" in the first one and "coloured" in the second. The question is: what relevance did this have in a medical report? The admissions ledger at the industrial school had "coloured" in one of the columns and also in the heading "admissions reform". [That did not apply to children, say, with red hair or white skin.] The last point the person made was "I don't know how I survived this place" and then "After spending four years at St. Patrick's home, I was sent to an industrial school." 

The members of the association are remarkable people in the context of what they have come through and the way in which they have survived. We owe an awful lot to them to get to the truth.

Hunger for the Truth - Catherine Coreless receives standing ovation

RTE Late Late Show

Tuam Babies Historian Catherine Corless speaks about her shocking discovery | The Late Late Show

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Dail Debate in 1934 - Illegitimate child proof of mother's shame - family pays foster carer to keep this hidden

This extract of a Dail debate on treatment of unmarried mothers in 1934 Ireland: 

In Committee on Finance. - Registration of Maternity Homes Bill, 1934—Second Stage.
Wednesday, 7 February 1934
Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 50 No. 7

First Page  Previous Page Page   of 39  Next Page  Last Page
Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health (Dr. Ward): Information on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward Zoom on Dr. Francis Constantine Ward The Bill is intended to give effect to a recommendation made by the Commission on the Relief of the Sick and Destitute Poor including the Insane Poor. It will be remembered that in paragraphs 266, 267 and 268 of their Report of August, 1927, the Commission wrote:—

“266. It would seem from the evidence given before us that in the City of Dublin there are a number of poor class maternity homes from which children are placed out to nurse.

“We are of opinion that all private maternity homes should be licensed annually by the local authority and that no licence be granted unless the home is properly and suitably [1214] equipped for the purpose, and that it was in charge of a respectable person trained in maternity care and nursing.

“267. From the Registrar-General's Report for 1924, it appears that one in every three illegitimate children born alive in 1924 died within one year of its birth, and that the mortality amongst these children is about five times as great as in other cases.
“268. It is high for many reasons, but there is one to which we wish specially to refer. The illegitimate child being proof of the mother's shame is, in most cases, sought to be hidden at all costs. What frequently happens is that the mother, or the mother's family, at the time the mother leaves the hospital or home, make arrangements with someone to take the child, either paying a lump sum down or undertaking to pay something from time to time.

“These arrangements are often made or connived at by those who carry on the poorer class of maternity homes, and the results to the child can be read in the mortality rates.
“If a lump sum is paid or if the periodical payment lapse, the child becomes an encumbrance on the foster mother, who has no interest in keeping it alive.”

At present there is no means of obtaining information as to the where abouts of the homes referred to by the Commission. Neither is there any power of inspecting them except that provided for the purposes of the Midwives (Ireland) Act, 1918, by Section 17 thereof. This section relates chiefly to the supervision of midwives. It is quite insufficient to insure the suitable and efficient management of the maternity home.

Rosemary Adaser - Press Coverage of mixed race story on The the Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy

Here is the recent online press coverage following Rosemary's appearance on the Late Late Show this Friday:

EVOKE.IE - Outrage by the audience at the Late Late Show over the treatment in Mother and Baby homes

Click here

THE IRISH EXAMINER - There has to be an end to this

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Friday, 3 March 2017

Rosemary Adaser on the Late Late Show

The courageous and open Rosemary Adaser has just finished her talk with Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show this evening. The audience were mesmerized at hearing her stories of abuse in the institutions as a mixed race child.

She paid tribute to Catherine Corless who kept battling on, "scraping at the scab" until people believed her story about the remains of about 800 babies buried in a septic tank in Tuam next to a Mother and Baby Home run by the Bon Secour Nuns.

She went on to talk about how she was treated in St Joseph's Industrial school run by the Sisters of Charity in Kilkenny and the sexual abuse experienced there and the degradation meted out to her as if she were a "Savage".

Her foster parent, Brian Rothery,  joined the conversation later and spoke about the nuns dropping off this little mixed race girl with Afro hair  in the street outside Wynn's Hotel in Dublin Abbey Street at the age of 17 after having given birth to a baby. She looked as though she was "suffering from malnutrition" he said so it took some good cooking by his wife to get her back to good health but the trauma and psychological damage would remain.

Overall Ryan Tubridy was very sympathetic and allowed Rosemary the space to voice her experiences unchallenged. This is a breath of fresh air as normally people listen to her stories with incredulity. Brian Rothery, a novelist, also stressed that Rosemary has been consistent with her story over the years and stressed that these have been corroborated.

The story of mixed race babies being abandoned in Ireland with little chance of adoption is a story to be told and believed.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which is investigating the Tuam baby case, is also investigating how mixed race babies were treated in these institutions.

The work that AMRI (Association of Mixed Race Irish) do is about raising awarness of mixed race issues and advocating on behalf of Ireland's mixed race community.

Watch RTE here:

Here is the Guardian Video:

Monday, 5 December 2016

Irish or Immigrant – the mixed race Irish experience

I am prompted to write this blog because it occurs to me that as a community, mixed race Irish, do not in fact exist in Ireland.  Click on the last census (the Goverment official defination of Irish citizenry) and you will find us listed as the ‘Other’  Other African, Other Indian, Other Chinese etc. there is no mention of a community in existance since before the formation of the Irish Free State of 1922: Mixed Race Irish.

I have been posting to the Mixed Race Irish Face Book Page for some 3 years now and I have posted many examples of the mixed race experience from Ireland, America to Japan.  Common to all these experiences is the sense of otherness from family, from community and from the country of birth. So what are we?  Are we to live our lives by the perceptions of other non mixed race? This perception of ‘other’ has caused no end of grief for us.  We are collectively called mongrels, mutts, half-breed, breed, half-caste, coconut, darkie, savage, coloured to name but a few of the dehumanising terms applied to us.  By and large we have held our heads in shame and tried to emulate the ‘better’ whites around us, within our families and communities.  Any misdemeanour on our part at school, in the workplace and socially was sure to be rectified by calling us a variety of names designed to keep us in our place because we too understood that we were half savage; indeed sometimes we thanked the racist abuser for putting us on the right path in knowing our place – this was the way to safety and decency but not self-respect.

We have relied upon clinging to our friends to protect us from the worst effects of racism and loneliness caused by our beautiful duel heritage, we have refused to meet the eye of an unexpectedly similar brown hued person walking towards us, she/he too surrounded by their protectors. We did not meet their eyes because we feared; afraid to acknowledge ourselves in the eyes of another person who looked like us and so we continued to live in a prison created by others - maintained by our lived experiences.

We felt sorrow for our mothers who loved our fathers and vowed not to cause them further anguish even when some of our mothers denied our humanity. We understood that theirs was a hard lot indeed loving us in the teeth of social ostracism. Some of our mothers and yes, it was usually our mothers, vowed to teach us pride in our duel heritage even when they themselves believed in the futility of this belief.  Some of our mothers denied us in every respect and placed us in industrial schools to be 'cared' for by a collective barbaric racism; the strong survived however, too many of us cracked never to recover and in a desperate act of rebellion declared our broken spirits to the world by suicide or a softer option: endure a slow death within the ‘safety’ of the outpatient department of the local psychiatric hospital; there the dysfunction of our colour is ‘understood’, labelled and treated; there we could recover our sense of place at the bottom of the pile of Irish society.

And every space we occupy the beauty of our hue, face, dignity and strength is open to attack by any come lately, from the youngest snot nosed child to the auld geezer in the street; no where do we feel safe in the public space.  Even today, in the centenary of the 1916 rebellion of Ireland, a revered event, I am distressed to hear of the damaging experiences of racism on 30 somethings in Ireland, on our children in schools whose claims of racism at school are  dismissed as a bit of banter by school teachers and local authorities. The mothers of our mixed race community despair having no-one to turn to for support. We are not recognised as a minority ethnic community in Irish society so we remain a hidden  screeching aberation to the norm.  There is no legislation in place to provide a remedy for the psychological hurts experienced by our beloved children.

BUT, we are the means of our own salvation. It is time to halt our destruction and that of our children and the next generation of mixed race Irish children. We have been in Ireland since the beginning of the formation of the Irish Free State in 1922. Our modern community are in their eighties and yet, we simply do not exist as a community with a historical record of human rights violations, not in Irish non- governmental organisations (NGOs), not within Irish Government circles or schools or academic literature are we ever  mentioned not even as a footnote.

To many Irish people diversity means peoples from Eastern Europe or American Irish – this must change because they are not the engendered species – it is us; Irish people of colour.
As Ireland opens its’ country to a global community, we the older generation of Irish white and mixed race have a duty to come together and fight for the human dignity of our children, for the legacy that is ours by birth – Irish and proud not immigrant!

Rosemary C Adaser BA (Hons.) MSc/Dip
Founder and CEO
The Association of Mixed Race Irish
Rosemary C Adaser BA (Hons.) MSc/Dip
Founder and CEO
Assoc. of Mixed Race Irish (AMRI)