Ireland’s Mother and Baby Scandal

Outsider Films for Al Jazeera.

Editor: Charlie Hawryliw

Director: Callum Macrae

Content warning: Some viewers may find this film distressing

Six years ago, a local historian from County Galway in the Republic of Ireland, discovered that hundreds of babies and young children had died in a home for unmarried pregnant women, run by Roman Catholic nuns in her hometown of Tuam. Further research revealed that many of the babies had died of malnutrition and other forms of neglect. Angry survivors and relatives called for an investigation and concerned families began to ask questions about other homes run by the Church in Ireland and how many other babies had died in equally mysterious circumstances.

In 2015 the government announced it was setting up an official Commission of Investigation. The body was required to provide answers by 2018, but two years since its official publication date, the full report has still not been published. In its absence, the suspicion, frustration and anger of relatives have escalated, the once shameful secret of a single small rural town is developing into a national scandal which goes to the heart of the close relationship between successive Irish governments and the Catholic Church.

In two episodes edited by Charlie Hawryliw, Al Jazeera correspondent Laurence Lee investigates deeply disturbing allegations that both the Irish state and its religious orders were responsible for a systematic decades-long regime of institutional neglect and exploitation involving the death of thousands of children.

Both episodes are currently available on Al Jazeera as part of their People and Power series.