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9,000 infants died at Mother & Baby Homes since 1922; Commission report will be submitted to cabinet today

DUBLIN: The government is investigating the leak of the final report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission. Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he will investigate how the sensitive details in the final report were leaked. The minister said he was deeply dissatisfied with the incident and would take further action after consulting other cabinet members.

The Commission of Investigation reports that 9,000 infants have died at Mother & Baby Homes since 1922. It is learned that the cabinet will propose to form an inter-departmental group to address the issue of survivors, mothers and children from Mother and Baby Homes.

Minister O’Gorman was in touch with Martin Fraser, the secretary general of the Department of An Taoiseach, requesting an investigation into the leak. Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin apologized in the Dáil.

Minister Roderic O’Gorman will present the final report of the Commission of Investigation to the Cabinet this morning.

This follows a five-year investigation into the lives of women and children in 18 institutions between 1922 and 1998.

The 3,000-page report will be distributed to survivors of Mother and Baby Homes before they are made available to the public.

The current report is the culmination of the Commission’s findings on the atrocities committed in 14 Mother & Baby Homes and four government – owned county homes over a 76 – year period.

On Tuesday, the cabinet is expected to discuss the report and the immediate steps to be taken. This includes things like the Adoption and Tracing Bill, which allows adopted children access to information about their mothers.

The Taoiseach said he found its contents shocking and difficult to read. The experience faced by mothers and infants in those circumstances was “extraordinarily sad and cruel,” he said.

In a letter sent to survivors of the homes, Mr. O’Gorman said he wanted the survivors to hear about the main conclusions of the commission’s report, and the Government plans.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald described the leak as “grossly irresponsible” and unacceptable. Ms. McDonald said an apology and acknowledgement by the State of its failings was “absolutely central and long overdue”.

Jennifer Whitmore, a spokeswoman for children and youth affairs, said the leak was a clear violation of the process for publishing the report outlined by Mr O’Gorman in December.

Although there have already been indications of mass burials of children, including thousands of newborns who have reached orphanages owned by churches, evidence of this has only been available for a few years.

The mass grave was found in a Catholic orphanage in Tuam, near Galway. DNA tests were performed on the physical remains of 800 children. The media reported that about 6,000 children had died in the ensuing investigation. The commission report now estimates the number at 9,000.

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