An East Cork Councillor who was born in the Bessborough Mother and Baby home in Mahon has asked that its sale be dealt with sensitively.
Cllr Mary Linehan Foley told Monday’s full Council that while she was “one of the lucky ones” she could associate with many women who gave birth in Bessborough and never knew what happened to their children.
The Youghal based Cllr said she would like to see the Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, engage with the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary to safeguard the sale of the building.
She said she would also like to see a Memorial erected on the site “to remember the countless babies who were born and that never came home, and to remember the women who are still suffering to this day.”
Sinn Fein Cllr Danielle Twomey said “the building should be brought into State ownership and anybody who was there or resident there, their memory also needs to be respected.”
Green Party Cllr Liam Quaide said “it is a site of extraordinary sensitivity, a place of great suffering for so many mothers and children where vital human bonds were painfully severed by religious oppression.”
“Bessborough House is crowded with memories that we should honour and commemorate. The site has burial grounds that have not been fully examined. A total of 470 infants that we know of died in Bessborough House between 1934 and 1953.”
Fine Gael Cllr Susan McCarthy said the State should atone for the mistakes of the past “we have to recognise the mistakes we made in the past and we have to atone for those” she said.
Fianna Fail Cllr Seamus McGrath said “Bessborough, and other sites across the country, represent a very dark chapter in our history and we need to face up to that continually.”
“Cllr Linehan Foley is being very reasonable in her ask seeking sensitivity, I would be asking the State to take it into their control and provide a fitting memory for those who did suffer and to provide a proper atonement for what did go on.”
A precedent has already been set with the State already purchasing the Magdalen Laundry in Sean McDermott Street in Dublin. There is a plan to turn the site into a multipurpose site of conscious.
Cllr Linehan Foley said she would agree with amending her Motion to have Minister Zappone intervene in the sale of the Bessborough.
“Once it would be used for something that’s doing good for the likes of women or men that need it, it would sit right with me” she said.