Martin added: "We must learn the lesson that institutionalization creates power structures and abuses of power, and must never again be an option for our country in any circumstance.”
Church-run homes in Ireland housed orphans, unmarried pregnant women and their babies for most of the 20th century. The mothers were abandoned by their families and hidden away out of shame, and many of the children were separated from their mothers for adoption.
The institutions came under intense scrutiny after historian Catherine Corless in 2014 tracked down the death certificates for nearly 800 children who died at a mother-and-baby home in western Ireland — but could only find a burial record for one child.
Investigators later found a mass grave containing remains of babies and young children in an underground sewage structure on the grounds of the home, which was run by an order of Catholic nuns and closed in 1961.
The commission of inquiry said about 56,000 unmarried mothers and about 57,000 children had lived in the homes it investigated. Most were admitted in the 1960s and early 1970s.