Statement on Mother and Baby Homes

Fri, Sep 2, 2022

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I had been hoping there were more reasons forthcoming on the decision by the Department of Equality to not undertake an independent legal inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes. There doesn’t seem to be and I think the decision is a mistake.

I don’t wish to speak for those directly affected by Mother and Baby homes but I think while memorialisation is important so is the truth. Have we recorded the truth fully yet - I honestly think not. Considering the scope of this issue there are more questions still to be explored. Those questions are not just about Mother and Baby homes themselves but also the commission and report. This is still relevant. Some of the groups involved in this operate in Ireland today. Indeed we know the State colluded with essentially private bodies in bringing about this system.

As a nation there’s still time to listen to survivors and honour their wishes - those who want to be heard, who want answers and those that need support services. The State and the people of Ireland would benefit immeasurably from finally addressing this in all it’s awful truth.

An independent undertaking is important because I don’t believe that either the State or the Government can be central to any further action on Mother and Baby Homes. Any work undertaken by them may underplay the State’s responsibility in the operation of the Homes. This is before we address the continued trauma of survivors as regards the commission and its process - it will be difficult if not impossible to implement the current proposal for memorialisation by the Department where trust has been so eroded. It deserves an independent legal review.

There are other options here and those affected should be able to lead on the process of what happens next. As they have already commented on this issue the United Nations Human Rights Committee could be asked to play a more central role or provide a rapporteur. I would very much like to see a recognition of the stories to be told through the creation of a bursary fund for survivors and for academics who wish to record further the reality of Mother and Baby Homes and for the Government to capitalise that.

At the very least I believe the Minister/Department could contact the Office of the UN High Commissioner to seek direction on the suitability of current proposals by the Government and how the rights of survivors can be vindicated by the state. I will be writing to him to suggest it.