Mother and baby institutions payment scheme to open on March 20th

Roderic O’Gorman expects the first payments to be made in quarter two of this year

The payment scheme for survivors of the mother and baby institutions will open for applications on March 20th, Minister for Equality Roderic O’Gorman has confirmed.

“I know that many survivors and former residents have been waiting for this news. Given its scale, time has been needed to get the structures in place to open the scheme and, as we approach the opening date, staff are continuing to work hard, to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible for applicants,” Mr O’Gorman said in a statement on Tuesday.

Once the scheme opens, the payment scheme office will process all applications “as quickly as possible, with the first payments expected to be made in quarter two of this year”, the Minister said.

The scheme would give priority to applications according to the age of the applicant, he added.


The Minister announced that he had appointed Patricia Carey to the role of special advocate for survivors, following an independent recruitment campaign managed by the Public Appointments Service.

The role of the special advocate will be to “promote the collective interests of survivors, as expressed by them, and to amplify their voices as a central, essential input to Government deliberations on matters which affect them”.

Ms Carey’s remit will encompass mother and baby institutions, county home institutions, Magdalene laundries, industrial and reformatory schools, and related institutions, and those adopted, boarded out or the subject of an illegal birth registration.

Patricia Carey served as chief executive of the Adoption Authority of Ireland from 2014 to 2022, leading the work on the Birth Information and Tracing Act. Before this role she held the position of director of services for St Vincent de Paul.

Ms Carey is an adopted person who was born in a mother and baby home, and “brings a unique perspective and dedication to her work”, the Department of Equality said in a statement. She will take up her role on March 25th.

Information which will be required from those making an application to the scheme is available at

David Kinsella (66) spent the first four years of his life with his mother in St Patrick’s mother and baby home in Dublin. He was adopted to “a good family who were strict in their ways” and, he later learned, his mother “fled” to England.

He tried looking for information about her when he was 17 and was told he was too young. When he was 18, he was told releasing information would breach his mother’s privacy.

He experienced alcohol and drug addiction for which he was hospitalised. He got clean and sober in his 20s and emigrated to London. When he finally got his records in 2005, he learned his mother had died aged 62 and had been living 15 minutes by Tube from where he had been working in the late 1980s.

Though “no amount of money” will compensate him for all he has lost, he welcomed Tuesday’s announcement that the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme would open next month.

“It’s a long time coming, after the constant delays and investigations. I honestly think [Minister for Children] Roderic O’Gorman has done a lot more for survivors than his predecessors, even if it has taken a long time. Now, with the age of especially the mothers, I certainly agree the older or ill should be looked after first.”

He was “sorry” many survivors, including Derek Linster who successfully campaigned to have the Protestant Bethany homes included in the scheme, had not lived to see it. Mr Linster died at his home in Rugby, England, in November 2022.

And it was “sad and ironic” his adoptive sister, who was also in St Patrick’s and adopted into the same family when she was a few weeks’ old, would receive no payment, he added. Those who were babies or children in the homes must have spent at least 180 days, or six months, to be eligible for the scheme.

But it was “recognition” that survivors’ experiences in the homes were “wrong”, said Mr Kinsella. “I had adverse childhood experiences which are known to be precursors to addiction. That is how I coped. I was in a downhill spiral of addiction to alcohol and benzodiazepines. I am sober over 40 years now. I got my notes from when I was 22 and receiving treatment, and [the notes show] even then I was talking about the effects of adoption.

“Payment will make comfortable my latter years, however long I have left. I’ll get a few home comforts. My front door is like a bit of cardboard. The wind from the Wicklow Mountains tears through it, so I will replace that. I have to get on with my life now.”

The Justice for Magdalenes Research and Clann Project groups, which campaign and research on the historical experiences of unmarried mothers and their children, called on Government to amend the scheme “immediately”, to include everyone who spent time in mother and baby homes and/or were abused in a boarding out or adoptive placement.

They believe the exclusion of “most people who were born in a mother and baby home due to its cut-off requirement of six months’ detention... as a child” is “unconstitutional discrimination”.

Beyond Adoption Ireland gave the payment scheme a broad welcome. “It’s great news but it comes with sorrow for the survivors for whom it’s come too late,” said spokeswomen Clodagh Malone. “We are losing so many, and so many of the mothers still living are in such bad health. But it’s great news for people who have been waiting so long for this day. It’s the State acknowledging finally: ‘Yes you have suffered.’”

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Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times