“She [Marie-Thérèse’s mother] found it very hard to talk about [the fire incident], but I did ask questions, and I’m very glad that I did ask questions. I wrote to them seeking litigation, the solicitor told me I was statute barred, I didn’t even have the education to go to a solicitor myself, I still hadn’t adapted to the outside world.”
In 2000, under a Freedom of Information application, Marie-Thérèse got access to her Goldenbridge files, which included details of her medical history. “I’m actually lucky that it was recorded, and then I was lucky too that I got that information from my mother.”
Marie-Thérèse says that she will continue with her protest outside the Dáil until next Christmas if necessary. “When I get bad moments, when I am feeling so isolated and I’m lying down outside the Dáil, I think that 18-month-old baby was never acknowledged, was totally and utterly ignored.” She has written more than 300 letters to members of the Government. A number of them – including Joe Costello, Joe O’Toole, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and Olywn Enright – are supporting her.
Photo of Frank Duff with legionaries outside the Regina Coeli hostel.
Mary Hanafin, Minister for Education and Science, came to visit her once outside, to tell her that she will not be adding the unit to the redress schedule. The Department of Education did offer her counselling for the emotional effects of Goldenbridge. “It’s not sufficient for somebody to have half their hand almost taken off and for them to say ‘oh yeah we’ll deal with the psychological aspect of what happened to you in Goldenbridge'”. Thursday 15 December 2005 Emma Browne.
In a response to questions submitted by Village the Department of Education and Science said it had provided funding for the services at the Regina Coeli Hostel as far back as 1935, and the first record of inspection was in 1947.
The Department said Brian Lenihan gave incorrect information due to a “confusion of references in relation to Regina Coeli, ‘Morning Star’ and a ‘Morning Star Mother and Baby Home’”. They said the Minister was now happy to clarify the matter.
Village asked the Department of Education and Science if Mary Hanafin had a response to the new information regarding the inspection records; how was she not aware of the inspection records through her communication with the department; would she now consider adding it to list; and, if not, for what reason.
The Department replied: “As the redress scheme applies to industrial schools, reformatory schools and other such institutions for children where the State’s duty of care arose from the fact that the children were separated from their families and were placed and resident in institutions over which the State had a regulatory or supervisory responsibility. “This situation did not apply in respect of homes or hostels for mothers and their babies.”
When asked again how the confusion over the inspection records arose, the Department said, “there was no confusion”.
The response given to Village is totally different to a reply Minister Hanafin gave in the Dáil on 14 December. She said: “I assure the House if there was evidence of the State having placed people in these institutions or of having an inspection role, I would have liked and wanted to have them included in the interests of the people who were abused in them, or who believe they were abused in them. The lack of evidence means there is nothing to indicate the State had that role as set out in the legislation.” Thursday 22 December 2005 Emma Browne.
The Regina Coeli Hostel
The Regina Coeli Hostel is the sister hostel of the Morning Star and was opened for homeless women and children by Frank Duff because he was particularly concerned with the effects of poverty on women.
In 1927 the Morning Star Hostel for men was opened and in October 1930 the Regina Coeli Hostel for women.
Not just women but mothers with young children and expectant single mothers. A novel initiative, this was the first time in lreland that a formal effort had been made to facilitate mothers and their children in the role of a family unit. Both the Morning Star and the Regina Coeli have remained open every single day since their foundation.
The Regina Coeli Hostel in its entirety is comprised of Legion of Mary Members working round the clock and on a voluntary basis. There are 6 working groups each with a complement of up to 20 members.
They keep the place in good order, make beds, serve meals and befriend the residents- Some legionaries have dedicated themselves wholly to this endeavour and live as indoor staff, while others serve on a temporary basis. Then there are those who dedicate all their active days totally to this work. Presently in the region of 100 women and children are catered for in the Hostel.
Mothers have facilities for preparing meals in their own units and if they wish can have a mid-day meal in the Hostel’s own dining room. Single women have breakfast and evening meals provided and lunch is available for a token charge. Dinner is available for all children on a daily basis.
The Hostel has an Oratory with reservation of the Blessed Sacrament and Sunday Mass. Homeless persons of all denominations or none are welcome and full respect is accorded to their religious beliefs. With the residents making contributions there are not the usual public appeals for funds.
Nonetheless funds are needed from time to time and over the years benefactors have helped at critical moments. The policy is to be of service to those who are most in need. Frank Duff reasoned that if the Hostel were to keep only those of calm dispositions then those most in need would be excluded. He called this, the policy of Values Reversed.
Just in a like manner to the Morning Star Hostel our hostel needs to have some renovation and upgrading work to be done on it. Part of this work has already been completed and we have a new roof on the hostel.
“This particular activity has been considered at length because it really concerns the whole spirit of the Legion. In addition, it holds, amongst services done to the Church, a key position. For it constitutes a special assertion of the Catholic principle that even the lowest of human beings hold in relation to us a position which is independent of their value or agreeableness to us: that in them Christ is to be seen, reverenced, loved.”
(Handbook Chapter 37 Suggestions as to works, Section 6 footnote: Work for the most wretched and dejected of the population.)