HOT POKER WAS USED ON LITTLE MARION.. NO CASH WILL GET HER BACK; I THINK MY BABY WAS MURDERED AT THE ORPHANAGE, SAYS PAYOUT MUM.
The Mirror (London, England), 11 October 1997 by Neil Leslie
The elderly mother of tragic Goldenbridge baby Marion Howe claims her daughter's death at the hands of nuns was "nothing short of murder".
Distraught Christina Howe has revealed for the first time that she believes her 11-month-old toddler was assaulted with a hot poker.
She was speaking after receiving a pounds 20,000 payout from the Sisters of Mercy and an apology over the death of baby Marion. But she said the payout was no substitute for an explanation of her child's mystery death.
It is 42 years since Marion died but pensioner Mrs Howe sobbed: "I just can't forgive them."
Speaking at her home in Dublin last night, she said: "What they did was murder, that's my view of it anyhow.
"I am still very angry and I still don't know the truth. That was all I wanted to know, the truth. Money didn't matter. But now we will never know because there are no witnesses. It's an awful burden. I will never get over it."
She revealed that the nuns had initially offered pounds 7,500 for her and her husband Myles to drop court action against them.
"They offered us that money a few months ago. It was an insult really. But we didn't want the money, we just wanted to know what happened to our lovely little girl.
"She was such a beautiful baby. I had 16 children and 10 are alive and I just look at them now and wonder which one would she have been like.
"It's heartbreaking. We will try to put it behind us now. My husband is still too upset to speak to anyone about it."
Christina wept again as she recalled why her little girl was taken from her all those years ago. She said: "I was sick. She was only supposed to be there for two weeks but she was dead in four days.
"Some of my older daughters remember. Mary, who was around four or five, recalls her being taken away in the pram and saying 'Day Day'.
"Little did we know it would be the last 'Day Day' we ever saw her alive.
"We are still angry. The nuns never even told me what happened at the time.
"They rang my husband who was in England and told him not to bother coming home, that they would look after everything.
"They wondered why we were so upset and told us: 'It's only a baby'.
"But our little girl was lucky because she had parents. What about all the little ones that didn't. How many more have been buried like that?"
Christina believes horrendous burns to her baby's legs were caused with a hot poker. "I always said it was a poker because of the shape of the holes. She was only 11 months old.
"It's really awful what they did. Marion had burns on both her legs, not just one which was reported.
"You could place your fingers right through the hole in her little leg. How could anybody do that to an 11-month-old baby.
"It is frightening to think such things could have happened to a little infant.
"And these people had the cheek to say they would bury our baby. They were covering up. Do they think we are fools?
Mrs Howe and her husband visited the orphanage near Dublin three weeks after Marion was buried in an attempt to find out what happened.
She recalled: "The nun who answered the door shut it in our face. We were devastated. There was no any investigation, yet we told the Guards.
"We were left thinking, year after year, day after day, what ever happened to our little Marion.
"We never got the truth. No money will ever replace her.
"When my husband reported it to the police they should have looked into it.
"Think what we could have done to save other orphans from torture?"
The court victory has opened the door for a flood of similar settlements against the Sisters of Mercy who ran a cruel regime in Goldenbridge 40 years ago.
The scandal was uncovered after orphan Christine Buckley exposed the brutal life in her television documentary Dear Daughter last year.
Christine told of the reign of terror in which kids were beaten, placed in tumble dryers and forced to sit on potties for hours. Christina Howe saw the moving film and was horrified.
"It was then we realised that if all this had happened to this woman, what had happened to our little girl," she said.
Christine Buckley last night offered her sympathy to the Howes.
She said: "It must have been like burying their baby again.
"If they had got a million pounds it would have been nothing because they did not get an honest explanation as to what happened."
She said it was time for an independent public inquiry.
"The state has let us down badly. Had one of us been the daughter of a VIP this would never have gone so far.
"The Howes have waited 42 years for the truth. Someone knows the answer to their question."