Conrad Bryan, victim and activist, Ireland, 2021

This weekend’s symposium, in Berne Switzerland, on historical child abuse in several European states is an important initiative. As a survivor of Irish institutions I am pleased to be able to attend and contribute to a Council of Europe motion designed to protect the rights of children against abuse across Europe.

In Ireland this year, we saw the completion of a 6 year Commission of Investigation into abuses at Mother and Baby Homes institutions covering the period 1922 to 1998. These were places where most unmarried mothers were compelled to stay with their “illegitimate” babies due to the stigma of having a baby outside wedlock. Most of the babies were put up for adoption, resulting in terrible and unjust separation of mother and child. Many adoptions were fraudulent and forced.

There was an additional stigma for children, like I was, who were not only “illegitimate” babies but also the children of black African fathers. Many of us were left within these institutions, and not put up for adoption, and then passed on to other institutions, after the mother and baby homes, where child abuses were endemic. I provided testimony and evidence to the Commission of Investigation seeking answers and justice for my 18 years detention in these institutions. As the government stated after the publication of the Commission’s report in January 2021 that “there was aa unjust belief” we were unsuitable for a family life because of our racial backgrounds. I am still waiting for justice from the State and the Catholic Church.

Copyright Simone Padovani

victim of abuse justice initiative