Commission of Investigation Report
Sean Ross mother & baby home opened in 1931 and closed its doors in 1969. During that time almost 6,500 woman were admitted and around 6,079 children were born or admitted to the home.
It was owned and run by the congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The public assistance/health authorities paid for the vast majority of the mothers and their children while they were living in Sean Ross, there were also a small number of private patients.
But this story began with the Bon Secours mother and baby home, also known as St Mary’s mother and baby home or THE HOME!
It was run by the Bon Secours Sister’s a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church who also ran a number of other homes/Institutions not only in Ireland but around the globe, they were places where unwed mothers were sent to give birth to their children.
In 2012 concerns were raised that up to 1000 children had been sent from the home and were illegally adopted and shipped to the States as well as other locations.
While also in 2012 local historian Catherine Coreless had published an article documenting the history of the home, and around a year later Catherine had uncovered the names of children who died in the home.
An inspection report which had been uncovered by another individual, noted the cause of death of these children, the most common of which being congenital disease, Infectious disease and malnutrition.
It was later noted by Catherine that almost 800 children who had died at the home had been buried in unmarked and unregistered site there.
The home was later investigated by the commission of investigation and excavations had been carried out between 2016 and 2017 (Ordered by the commission) The results of which had found a significant quantity of human remains aged between around 35 foetal weeks to three years old.
Naturally the commission were shocked to say the least and said that they would continue their investigation into who was responsible for disposing of human remains in such a horrific manner.
Going back to, Sean Ross mother and baby home, like many others have now concluded that many children and some mothers from the home are also buried in the grounds of the Abbey.
While for the last few years I have been visiting SR for the yearly commemorations my first visit will be forever etched on my mind and will continue to hold a place in my heart.
Although I don’t have a connection (At least not that I know of) to SR other than my supporting the survivors in their fight for justice, I hold dear that so many have gone through so much pain not only in discovering they had been adopted by families oversea’s and taken from their mothers and birth home, but to know now that so many have siblings who may be buried within the grounds with no marked grave must be heartbreaking.
The bond that the survivors have with each other is unbreakable, because they all share that same pain, they are all connected one way or another.
Every day those children (Now adults) have a painstaking quest for the truth, and still after all these years they are being given the run around.
With more lies and excuses and still the Church and State continue to protect each other, Sure the State have in some part tried to help, the Church have at one point said they are sorry for what happened back then, but is that enough?
I have highlighted some of what I have read in the report from the commission of investigation, some of which just doesn’t sit right with me, the way various reports are worded and the figures just don’t add up.
There are two areas in the report that bother me most, the cause of death and the vaccination report.
SR comes under chapter 19 of the commission of investigation report and I have picked this chapter because SR is where I attend the commemorations each year, I would have liked to have read and commented on the whole report but due to it being around 2000 pages long it would be a task in which I would need to spend week’s possibly months to get through.
I have included links below for the purpose of others who wish to read and or support the survivors of such institutions, I will welcome anyone, survivor or supporter to get in touch if you would like to talk about this subject in a podcast or via zoom.
If there are any mothers of children born in mother and baby homes or other institutions who may wish to talk privately on the matter who may not have been able to talk until now then get in touch with the admins of the support group on Facebook: WE AE STILL HERE.
Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can be assured that your name and anything you wish to discuss will remain private and WILL NOT under any circumstances be passed on to any other individual or party.
Admins: Teresa Collins & Michael Donovan
Belinda Conniss Official – Moderator
(Highlighted below are various parts of the report that not only offend me as a supporter but also I’m sure as well as the survivors, the general public)
- 19.15 In July 1931, Bishop Fogarty visited Sean Ross, which was reportedly ‘In full working order’ and ready for the reception of single woman and their infants. Mrs Crofts visited county homes in Tipperary and surrounding counties to encourage health authorities to send ‘First offender’ unmarried mothers who applied for public assistance to Sean Ross.
I think it’s safe to say I was appalled by the way in which woman were stigmatised, ‘First Offender’ I mean really? A term which would in normal circumstances be given to an individual who had committed a crime that would warrant to a prison sentence.
- 19.17 In May 1931, the DLGPH wrote to the Offaly Board of Health suggesting that the 26 unmarried mothers living in Tullamore County home should be transferred to Sean Ross, in support of the suggestion, the chairman of the board said that the 26 woman in question were ‘Mere girls’ and first time mothers and that every effort should be made to teach them how to become ‘self-supporting’ While the Offaly councillors did not oppose the suggestion in principle, some raised concerns regarding the cost of hiring staff to take on the work performed by these woman in the county home.
Not the woman or the mother’s so yet another label ‘These woman’ like they were dirt on the bottom of their shoes? I know that as a supporter some may say I shouldn’t let the wording or other matters contained within the report bother me as it doesn’t effect me? But this is something that should bother everyone, especially woman.
- 19.19 Bishop Fogarty said that the system in operation in Sean Ross was, ‘Admirable’ and led to ‘Merciful results’ Where many woman were placed in situations and were ‘Permanently reclaimed’ He also included a description of what he described as the three classes of woman who were admitted to Sean Ross.
- The feeble or weak minded sort (and a great many of them are such) who will never be able to take care of themselves and are easy victims to the wicked. For these I can only see one form of protection, namely, collect them into the institutions under the care of the Nuns. As long as they remain in the institutions, they are quiet, happy and inoffensive, and for the most part they are willing to shelter in such institutions.
- The second class of these offenders are girls who are naturally decent but who have fallen through accident or environment. Girls of that class are dealt with by the Nuns at Sean Ross, who get them in a good many cases, as I have said, safe occupation outside and they nearly all remain right. Many of them get married.
- The third class is that of woman of a wild and vicious nature, who are a harmful influence wherever they prevail. They are neither amenable to religion outside, nor will they consent to abide permanently in religious institutions. Some of them are taken as patients into houses under the care of the Good Shepherd Nuns and remain there.
The very tone in which the woman were described was absolutely shocking, ‘Permanently reclaimed’ Like they were a herd of sheep being reclaimed by the local farmer. While I understand that way back in time science wasn’t so far advanced and therefore many individuals may have been thought of as mentally ill, but to describe the woman the way they did is nothing short of ignorance.
I don’t like ‘These’ ‘Collect them’ ‘Offenders’ ‘Wild and vicious nature’ What did they expect the woman to be like? Of course they would SEEM wild and vicious, so would I had I been forcibly taken from my home because I fell pregnant. What I have also noticed throughout the report is that there is no mention of the poor girls/woman who fell pregnant due to sexual abuse or rape. Something that the church plain blank refused to acknowledge.
In 19.29 section of the report, it is stated that one woman who was diagnosed with venereal disease was shipped from one hospital to another because the physician refused to treat her, in the end she was being treated at home by the local dispensary officer and subsequently died a few days later.
As far back as I know those who work in the medical profession do so because they care about people, they have a desire to treat people, make them well and they sign a document to that fact, to have those who refused to treat not only this lady but most likely many others, had failed their duty in the medical profession. Had they examined the woman they would have realised that she did not have venereal disease it was actually sepsis and her life may well have been saved.
- 19.33 In September 1935, Bishop Fogarty blessed the foundation stone of the new Chapel of St Michael the Archangel at Sean Ross. The Nenagh Guardian reported that ‘Roscrea was jubilant’ as the bishop led a local troop of boy scouts and ‘hundreds of townspeople’ through the streets of the town and on to Sean Ross. The ceremony, described as ‘very impressive’ was reportedly witnessed by a ‘very large gathering’ which included ‘inmates’ from the ‘rescue’ house for the young woman, who were dressed in ‘brown garb’ One year later another crowd attended a high mass at Sean Ross to mark the opening of St Michael’s Chapel although Bishop Fogarty’s sermon was almost exclusively focused on the Spanish Civil War. He did refer to the work undertaken at Sean Ross: Pity for the unhappy Magdalenes of society has created here at Sean Ross a shelter for unmarried mothers and their children, often the victims of misfortune, under the care of the Virgin Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary. It is a charity of infinite mercy and value. I am grateful to the good Nuns for undertaking, at the request of the Government, this work, so arduous in nature, I admire their heroism and self-sacrifice.
While not all woman who lived in such institutions were forcibly taken there, nor badly treated, very many woman were treated badly so it is a shock to me when I read the above comments regarding the ‘Heroism and Self-Sacrifice of those Nuns, I mean, Really!
A charity of ‘Infinite mercy and value? It beggars belief that those values they held so dear included the often mental and physical abuse not to mention the treatment of some woman before, during and after the birth of their children, including the removal of some children who were illegally adopted to families many miles away from the biological mother.
- 19.59 The Kildare board told the department that they had instructed their superintendent assistance officer to suggest suitable homes for children maintained by them in Sean Ross.
Maintained, like the children were objects or a piece of machinery. Why not just say homes for the children to be looked after or take care of?
- 19.69 Mr Humphrey’s said that the British Ministry of Health had recommended that infants and children aged under three years should be accommodated separately from older children and that each infant should have between 30-50 Sq foot living space. The ministry had also recommended that large numbers of infants should not be housed in the same building owing to the risk of infectious disease and that dormitories should not contain more than six to eight cots. Sean Ross did not accord with this as, at the time of the visit, the three large dormitories has 40. 24 and 20 cots respectfully.
That’s a total of 84 cots over three dorms, I was shocked that the amount of space that was given to each infant was between 30-50 Sq feet which amounts to between just under 2 foot to 5 foot. Is it any wonder that illness was passed from one to another and so quickly?
There are 97 pages to get through alone on chapter 19 which includes references to so much wrong doing including (My words) Slave labour, treatment of the mothers and so much more besides.
I will include a link at the end for anyone who wishes to read for themselves the harsh reality of your religiously run institutions.
Be warned that the information contained is quite harrowing to read, now I will now touch on some of the vaccination report which contains a further 58 pages of reading.
The commissions terms of reference requires it to establish the extent of compliance with relevant regulatory and ethical standards of the time of systemic vaccine trials found to have been conducted on children in one or more of the institutions being investigated by the commission during the relevant period.
GlaxoSmithKline provided the commission with extensive documentation about vaccine and clinical trials conducted in children’s residential institutions in Ireland in the period 1930 to 1973. (43 Years of vaccine and clinical trials) You just couldn’t make it up!
These trials all involved either the Wellcome Foundation or Glaxo laboratories, these companies are today part of the same pharmaceutical corporations – GlaxoSmithKline, but were separate commercial entities when the trials described were being conducted.
The archives of both companies, although now merged, evolved separately. The Wellcome Foundation retained extensive documentation while Glaxo Laboratories’s available documentation was quite sparse.
I am at present and for the last number of months researching into the pharmaceutical companies involved in the vaccine and clinical trials, something which I have to do for the purpose of my forthcoming book ‘The Dark Side of the White Collar’
Here I will describe some of the material I have read so far from the commission of investigation report, again like the first part of this written podcast, there is way too much to comment on everything here. And again, please feel free to read for yourself the full report of which I will post a link at the end.
Anyone who wishes to speak privately to the admins of WE ARE STILL HERE on Facebook please feel free to get in touch, and, if there are those who were connected to any of the institutions who wish to form a group discussion, please get in touch and I will arrange a group zoom call.
- 34.7 Researchers undertaking clinical trials were obliged to get a Research Licence from the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. (The Department of Health from 1947) A Research Licence granted the holder ministerial approval to import therapeutic substances covered by the Therapeutic Substance Act for the purpose of scientific research.
The terms and constraints of a Research Licence was clearly defined. Firstly, the licence applied to licence only. Secondly, scientific research could only be undertaken at the address stated on the licence. If the licence holder wanted to conduct clinical research in a location other than that stated on the licence, the holder was obliged to get the authorisation of the minister to do so.
- 34.10 Ethical Standards: Ethical standards relating to clinical trials in human research subjects and especially the clinical issue of consent, applicable during the period 1922-1998 were set out in the Nuremberg Code (1947) Report of the Medical Research Council (U.K) 1962 and the Declaration of Helsinki (1964). The main points being as follows.
The Nuremberg Code: (1947)
Drawn up by American Judges sitting in judgement of the Nazi doctors accused of conducting murderous and tortuous human experiments in the Nazi concentration camps. It states: The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have the capacity to give consent.
Should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching or other ulterior form of consent or coercion, and should have knowledge and comprehension of the subject matter involved.
Clinical Research, the report of the Medical Research Council 1962/63:
In its report for 1962/63 the British Medical Research Council (MRC) Published a series of recommendations aimed at clinicians engaged in clinical research and the MRC subsequently published a statement on ‘Responsibility in investigations on human subjects in the (British Medical Journal).
The principle recommendation echoed that the Nuremberg Code in relation to the obtaining of consent – that it is both considerate and prudent to obtain a patient’s agreement before using a novel procedure. The second MRC recommendation was that the clinical researchers must ensure that; It is clearly within the competence of a parent or guardian of a child to give permission for procedures intended to benefit the child when he or she is not old or intelligent enough to be able himself to give consent.
The reality sadly is that for most, no consent was sought for the vaccine or clinical trial performed on a lot of these children. Neither was there any consent to the dissection of the children who passed away.
Declaration of Helsinki (1964)
This States: The nature, the purpose and the risks of clinical research must be explained to the subject by the doctor. Clinical research on a human being cannot be undertaken without his free consent after he has been informed, if he is LEGALLY incompetent, the consent of a legal guardian should be procured.
The subject of clinical research should be in such mental, physical and legal state as to be able to exercise fully his power of choice.
Consent should, as a rule, be obtained in writing. However, the responsibility for clinical research always remains with the research worker, it never falls on the subject even after the consent is obtained.
Various vaccines had been administered to hundreds of children which include:
- Anti-Diphtheria Vaccine 1930, 142 children in two unidentified orphanages, 436 children aged between eight months and 14 years. 1934-36 250 children in an unidentified residential institution for boys, and to 2,541 children among the general population. Cork
- Again in 24 children varying in age between seven months and 17 years, resident in Dublin Union. 1935, 46 children aged four to 15 years resident in St Vincent industrial school and various others. 39,267 in Dublin schools (Before it became commercially available) Dublin – 370 children in three residential institutions, Tipperary
- Quadrivax Vaccine 1960/61 58 infants & children resident in a number of institutions including Bessborough
- Oral Pollo Vaccine 1963, undertaken in the general community, County Wexford
And the list goes on, Measles, Rubella, Tetanus and Pertussis, and so on.
While we all understand that the named vaccines had to be given at a time of widespread disease and rightly so, there still remains the issue of some vaccines and clinical trials that 1. A lot of vaccines were trialled in many infant and children without fully knowing the side effects (If any) 2. Without the consent of the parent and without fully explaining the why’s and what for’s this is documented in the report.
I found what you are about to read next rather disturbing, I think most will come to the same conclusion I did after reading it.
- 34.37 An examination of the institutional records of the Dublin Union and Pelletstown failed to identify 24 children involved in Dr Hanley’s initial APT trial. However, it is more than likely that the children selected for inclusion were ‘illegitimate’ and unaccompanied children as most children resident there at the time were categorised as such.
Children living in the institutions were routinely used as research subjects in vaccine trials in the United Kingdom, the United States, and several other jurisdictions at this time.
I personally found this to be rather disturbing, to me it is pretty much stating that illegitimate children were used for the purpose of the trials, remember a lot of these vaccines were (TRIALS).
There was widespread deaths not only in Ireland but around the globe of children born in these institutions, only by reading the report will you understand the scale of deaths and how so many seemed to die from the same conditions, some of which had nothing to do with diseases that at the time was spreading like wildfire.
I have a list a mile long of some of the children who died in these places, causes of death Convulsions perhaps only a day old? In the same institution, and so many in the same year and over a period of years, Pneumonia at hours after birth, again so many of them and in the same year, and institution? Tell me that is normal?
So to cut a long story short, the investigations continue with many of the mothers and or siblings wanting exhumations, because it has now come to light that many more than first thought have been buried in the grounds of the homes, some don’t want the grounds dug up. What would you do? I do understand that for many they don’t want to disturb what lays beneath, however, there has been a crime committed by the Church & State on a very large scale, crimes committed against woman because they fell pregnant out of wedlock and for that they suffered not only the harshest of punishment, but had their children taken, illegally sold to families overseas.
Some of the woman were told their babies died, It is now time for the Church to not only admit to their sins but to do the right thing and give the children and some mothers a marked and registered burial.
They have committed the most evil crimes against humanity and should be punished accordingly.