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Mother and baby homes protesters' angry message to Higgins

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Majella Connolly joins protesters outside Áras an Uachtaráin

Majella Connolly joins protesters outside Áras an Uachtaráin

PA

Majella Connolly joins protesters outside Áras an Uachtaráin

Dozens of protesters said it is not up to survivors of mother and baby homes to challenge a new bill after President Michael D Higgins signed it into law on Sunday night.

The Mother and Baby Homes Bill was signed into law despite protests and controversy, with survivors claiming it will seal an archive for 30 years.

Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman has maintained this will not be the case and in an unprecedented move, Mr Higgins issued a statement after signing the bill into law saying it could be challenged in the courts.

However, at a demonstration outside the gates of Áras an Uachtaráin yesterday, protesters said it should not be up to "survivors and sufferers" to challenge the bill.

"It's absolutely not up to us to go to the courts," said Majella Connolly, who was born in St Patrick's Mother and Baby Home, on the Navan Road.

"I want Government to listen to people like myself, for them to understand how this is so important to us, how it's important that I cannot have legally a birth certificate," she said.

"It's very personal but it's been a fight in me my whole life trying to find out who I am."

Sisters Elaine Fitzgerald and Rachel Redmond said they were angry when news broke that the bill had been signed by the President.

Challenged

"Initially, I was angry. Rachel highlighted to me that because he's signed, it can be challenged by ordinary people. But the ordinary people shouldn't have to," said Ms Fitzgerald.

"Absolutely, I didn't want him to sign it. But I think it's time to let those who have passed rest.

"Those babies are never going to rest in those septic tanks so I think we need to be the voice for them and their mothers".

The protest was organised by ex-TD Ruth Coppinger, who said the President could address the nation or the Oireachtas.

"Personally, I feel like there's more he could still do. He could address the Oireachtas, he could address the nation," she said.

Her sentiment was echoed by activist Karen Dempsey, who said President Higgins was "damned if he did and damned if he didn't" when it came to signing the bill.


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