Report on Mother and Baby Homes in Northern Ireland likely to recommend full public inquiry

In February 2016, the then Northern Ireland Executive agreed to establish an inter-departmental working group to take forward work on Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries and Historical Clerical Child Abuse, which fell outside the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

The Working Group was tasked with considering the evidence about the operation of Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries and make recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive on what action to take.

It was also separately tasked with considering the evidence relating to Historical Clerical Child Abuse and make recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive on the way forward.

The Working Group is due to report later this month and it is expected to recommend an inquiry into the running of mother-and-baby homes in Northern Ireland.

The Working Group is chaired by Judith Gillespie, a former PSNI Deputy Chief Constable. Ms Gillespie has advised that the report will contain a full range of recommendations for next steps, including a full public inquiry or independent investigation.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill are due to meet with Minister Roderic O’Gorman, the Irish Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth to discuss publication of the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in the Republic of Ireland last week.

Ms Foster said that “I think it is very important that we do share information, particularly on this traumatic period in the history of both jurisdictions…some of the organisations that ran these institutions were all-Ireland institutions so therefore it is important that we have that conversation.”

Ms O’Neill said the meeting with Minister O’Gorman is part of the Stormont Executive’s preparations for preparing a response to the research report.

Lawyers and rights campaigners have called for the establishment of a public inquiry into mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland. Belfast lawyers represented a number of people who gave evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes in the Republic of Ireland and have raised issues about the Commission’s final report noting that there is disquiet about the report which raises a raft of issues.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director for Amnesty International, called on Stormont to “follow the Republic of Ireland and instigate a full-scale inquiry into the appalling tragic scandal of mother and baby homes here.”

He added: “The Northern Ireland Executive must deliver a human rights compliant investigation into the allegations of systemic human rights abuses at these institutions, and give an apology and redress to those who suffered irreparable damage to their lives.”


Katrina Gray, Partner, BLM
katrina.gray@blmlaw.com

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