Irish actor and Hollywood star Liam Neeson marked the Pope’s visit to Ireland by issuing a statement calling on the Church to acknowledge its mistakes and to help ease the pain caused to hundreds of families.
Neeson is currently working on ideas for a film about the scandal of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, involving infants dumped in a septic tank by nuns in the grounds.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered for silent vigil in Tuam in Galway to coincide with the Pope saying Mass in Dublin. They want the bodies of hundreds of babies who were dumped by the Sisters of Bon Secours, to be exhumed so they can have proper burial.
It’s thought up to 800 bodies could have been dumped between 1925 and the 1960s.
Neeson told the Mail on Sunday that every effort must be made to identify the remains of children.
“DNA technology is now available to identify all these bones, belonging to possibly over 790 babies and children, still lying in the ground in Tuam.
“The Irish government, aided by the Catholic Church and especially the nuns’ order, the Congregation of the Sisters of Bon Secours, must not shirk the responsibility of giving these souls the dignity and respect of identification.
“They had a right to exist. They were not “the devil’s issue”, as some people and establishments referred to them. A wrong is still a wrong and a crime is still a crime no matter how many years have passed. A proposed bronze plaque isn’t going to absolve those responsible for this horror.”
One of the protesters at the vigil was Annette McKay. Her sister went missing from the home when just a baby. Her mother, Maggie O’Connor, from Galway was sent to the home when she was 17. She became pregnant after being raped. Her baby daughter died in the home in 1943 from natural causes.
Ms McKay, who is now 64, did not know her sister had even existed until recently. She told the Irish Independent: “People are shouting to have this place dug up, it’s an obscenity.
“We could never imagine there would be a septic tank with almost 800 children in it, never in your wildest nightmares.
“I don’t know a country that would put 796 babies in a disused sewage tank.
“I look at the Pope coming to Ireland and then I hear people talking about the last Pope’s visit here in 1979 and how they loved him and the Catholic Church but time and time again I hear about abuse and scandal.
“We are telling the church you must change.
“The Pope and the rest of them should have come here and listened to what the Catholic Church did to 796 children.
“Those babies aren’t hidden, they are in that septic tank and they need to be given back to their families”
The Irish government is currently considering options for the site and is expected to produce a statement within the next few months.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling
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