Donegal-born artist Kevin Sharkey believes homes across the country will have their own ‘unmarked graves’ after the Tuam scandal.
The painter was born in a nursing home and later moved from care centre to care centre before being raised in Killybegs.
The former TV host says all of the other kids in care were aware of the bodies buried in the gardens and grounds of homes across Ireland.
Gardai last week launched an investigation after a large number of remains were discovered on the grounds of a Tuam home in Co Galway, run by the Bon Secours Sisters, following local historian Catherine Corless’s campaigning.
Sharkey told how the higher-ups at the homes would tell the children to not play in certain parts of the garden.
Sharkey said: “I was born in St Patrick’s Nursing Home on the Navan Road in 1961. I was illegally adopted from there and just given to a couple from Donegal without my mother’s permission.
“When I was a kid they sent me to an orphanage and to places like Lusk out in Oberstown and out by Skerries and one of the things that always, always came through was that as soon as you walk through you would hear the whispers: ‘Watch out for the priest, watch out for the brothers.’
The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation began excavations at the Tuam site in October 2016, and have uncovered remains aged from 35 foetal weeks to three years that are said to have been buried between 1925 and 1961.
Sharkey has now called on the Government to start a countrywide investigation of all homes in order to show the full horror of Ireland’s past.
He said: “What is happening in Tuam is either going to be something that Ireland stands up and deals with or we go through the next ten to 20 years of these things just dripping through.
“The Church has done this country so much damage. If eight babies were found in a house in Wicklow tomorrow it would be news all over the world and the perpetrator would be caught and punished or at least hunted down.
“And in this particular instance we can’t just say ‘oh, it was way back then’ — the people who were running those orders are still in power and are still in control.
“Of course, there were people in the Church who did good things but the veil has fallen. Every nursing home will have a similar situation. Every residential boys home will have an unmarked graveyard.”
He added: “We have to have these sites exhumed and go and check wherever they are.”
Sharkey, who counts Kate Moss and Matt Lucas as fans, also opened up about the abuse he saw in one home.
He said: “The first evening I went in, one of the brothers was sitting there with his hands down the pants of an eight-year-old boy, and the boy’s two brothers aged 13 and 15 had to sit there and watch this. They couldn’t do anything.
“You’re in the care of these people. They were drunk, sadistic, sex abusers, rapists. They were f***ing lunatics.”