Northern Ireland news

Mother and baby survivor fears report just the tip of the iceberg

The former Marianvale mother and baby home in Newry. File picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

A mother and baby home survivor has said she "felt sick" to learn that a 12-year-old girl was among those sent to an institution.

The Co Tyrone woman, whose 19-year-old mother was sent to a mother and baby home in Newry in the early 1960s, said she fears yesterday's report is just the tip of the iceberg.

"How come that was never investigated - a girl of 12? What justice was there for her?" she said.

Elizabeth Brennan, not her real name, was born in 1962 while her mother was in Marianvale home.

She was later moved between Sisters of Nazareth homes in Derry and Co Donegal.

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Plans were made to sell her to an American couple until her grandfather found her and paid money for her to be returned to her family.

Ms Brennan said the report confirmed what she already knew - that many children including herself were moved across the border to be adopted.

But she said she feared that illegal adoptions were more widespread than the available records would suggest.

"There is no record of her (my mother) signing everything," she said. "If there had have been they would have given it to me."

Ms Brennan said a full statutory inquiry is needed and urged more victims to come forward and tell their stories.

"At least I now know that what I was told was the truth," she said.

"No one should ever have been sent to a home. Nobody had the right to take a woman's child off her. It's appalling.

"Hopefully a lot of people will see that they don't have to carry shame any more. The truth now is out and people will see how young mothers and children were treated."

Margaret McGuckin, from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, also called for a statutory inquiry.

She said much more research is needed into the fate of children sent to baby homes.

"We need everything open and transparent," she said.

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