O’Neill – Women and girls ‘treated shamefully’ in homes

Women and girls were treated in a “shameful” fashion in mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland, the deputy first minister said.

Michelle O’Neill said it was a “milestone” day with publication of a working group’s review.

She said the testimony of the women and girls leapt out of the pages of the report.

“Today represents a milestone, the first stage in a journey.

“We have a long way to go in terms of supporting survivors.

“What the report highlights in essence is that women were shamefully treated for many years in mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries.”

As a mother herself, she said, it was heartbreaking.

“It is harrowing, it is a terrible indictment on clergy, the church and the State that this is a practice that happened over many decades.”

She said survivors should be at the heart of the future investigation.

She noted that some women were worked to the bone right up until giving birth and were cut off from society.

They were told they should be ashamed “because of what others had done to them”.

She added: “That is unacceptable.”

She said it was an emotional and long-awaited day but added more needed to be done.

The Sinn Fein vice-president said she was open to the idea of a public inquiry if that was what was required, but it was up to survivors to come forward with what needed to happen.