Teresa Collins: 'It is not what we wanted. It asks more questions than it answers'
Harrowing, was how one Tipperary survivor of the Sean Ross Mother and Baby Home in Roscrea described the Commission of Investigation into the Mother and Baby Homes Report issued last week.
Teresa Collins from Portroe outside Nenagh, a member of the Sean Ross Commemorative Committee, said the report was “cold and inconclusive”.
“It is not what we wanted. It asks more questions than it answers,” she said. “It is a lame report.”
Among those questions that need to be answered is where are the bodies of all the 1,090 babies that died there.
There were discrepancies around the number in the report and the numbers they had been given, she said.
The same applied to the number of women who died in the home.
There were also questions to be answered around the 65 children who were used in vaccine trials at Sean Ross and questions on how many died during those trials as their bodies would have been taken to Dublin.
She said the report did everything except place the blame on those who made the mistakes.
“They blame society in general in the report, but the State and the Church were colluding together,” she said.
She said that closure would only come when the State, the Church and the authorities came out and said: “Yes we did it.”
“We could accept the report if they came out and were honest. The report holds society and the families accountable but doesn’t hold them accountable,” she said.
Ms Collins said that the nuns who ran the home, the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, “sold children” and made money out of them.
Some children were sold on what was called the “black market” mostly to the United States, and this came to light as early as 1951 when the US embassy in Dublin got involved.
“About 500 children were flown from Shannon Airport to the US in the first nine months of 1951. There were high profile people involved. The US income exceeded the income of all other places and the paperwork was destroyed when it came to light,” she said.
Ms Collins said that the children had been taken from their mothers and they had not given consent for them to be adopted.
Her own grandmother who came to take her and her mother out of Sean Ross had to pay the nuns £100 to get them home.
“The Church just came and took my mother over to Roscrea,” she said.
Teresa, who was born in Sean Ross in 1963 and spent six months there, did meet her father in later life just shortly before he passed away.
“We got on like a house on fire. He didn’t know what went on at all. He had left for England where he married and had two children,” she said.
She called on the authorities to follow the money trail at Sean Ross and other homes.
“I’m sure they (the homes) must have money accounts. They took cash, they issued no receipts. When I went to the Commission and told them about the £100 they looked for a receipt but I had none,” she said. “The Commission hasn’t seen these. There are no records of where the 12 shillings they got for the mothers went.”
She said: “When they could get money, the got money, and when they couldn’t they worked them to hell. I am sure they must have wished they were dead.”
What happened in the past at Sean Ross can’t be left in the past, she said, as it was part of our history.
And despite the trauma herself and her family suffered at the hands of the religious, she said: “I believe in God, but I don’t go near nuns and I don’t go near priests. God didn’t ask them to do that.”