According to the report, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters which was set up to investigate what happened in 14 mother and baby homes and four county homes from 1922 to 1998, announced the 9,000 deaths as part of the final findings of its near six-year inquiry. According to the same report, around 56,000 people from girls as young as 12 to women in their 40s were sent to the 18 institutions investigated, where some 57,000 children were born.
One in seven of those children (15%) did not survive long enough to leave the homes, yet no alarm was raised by the State over the high mortality rates, even though it was "known to local and national authorities" and was "recorded in official publications," the report found.
Survivor Philomena Lee, who spent years searching for the son she was forced to give up for adoption said
in a statement that she had "waited decades for this moment; the moment when Ireland reveals how tens of thousands of unmarried mothers, such as I, and the tens of thousands of our beloved children, such as my dear son Anthony, were torn asunder, simply because we were unwed at the moment our children were born."
During her time at the Sean Ross Abbey mother and baby home, Lee said that she was "deprived" of her liberty, independence and autonomy, and was "subject to the tyranny of the nuns," who told mothers daily that they were to atone for their sins by "working for our keep and surrendering our children to the nuns for forced adoption."
Lee, whose story was told in an Oscar-nominated movie starring Judi Dench, added that she was "taunted" by the nuns during a difficult labor, who she says told her that the "pain was a punishment for my promiscuity."
Susan Lohan, a co-founder of the Adoption Rights Alliance and a member of a dedicated survivors group appointed to advise the Government, told media that the institutions were a "form of social engineering," and that the "State and Church worked in concert to ensure that women, unmarried mothers and girls who were deemed to be a threat to the moral tone of the country" were "incarcerated behind these very high walls to ensure that they would not impact or offend public morality."
In a statement released by Archbishop Eamon Martin, he said: "I accept that the Church was clearly part of that culture in which people were frequently stigmatized, judged and rejected." He apologized to survivors and those impacted for the "long-lasting hurt and emotional distress that has resulted."