Mother and baby homes commission to begin work

Investigation officially underway following formal appointment of three commissioners

Judge Yvonne Murphy, who has been appointed chairperson of the  Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. The commission’s work is officially underway following the formal appointment of  three commissioners. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Judge Yvonne Murphy, who has been appointed chairperson of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. The commission’s work is officially underway following the formal appointment of three commissioners. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The work of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is now officially underway following the formal appointment of the three individuals who will conduct the investigation.

The establishment of the independent commission, which has a three-year deadline and which will cost approximately €21 million, followed the signing by the Taoiseach of a Government order at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James Reilly said it marked a “significant moment”.

“The Commission can now start the process to ensure that what was once hidden and covered up in these homes, and in wider society, can be revealed and openly acknowledged”.

“This investigation is an opportunity for Irish society to address the often harrowing manner in which vulnerable women and children were treated in mother and baby homes, how they came to be there in the first place and the circumstances of their departure from the homes,” Mr Reilly said.

Mr Reilly confirmed the appointment of Judge Yvonne Murphy as Commission chairperson, as well as the appointment of Dr William Duncan, a legal expert on child protection and adoption, and historian Prof Mary Daly as commissioners.

Terms of reference

In January, the Government published the terms of reference for the commission of investigation into 14 named institutions and a “representative sample of county homes” between 1922 and 1998.

The terms include an investigation into high mortality rates recorded in these institutions, the living conditions and social care arrangements in the homes and the exit arrangements made for single women and children on leaving.

The commission will have the power to investigate alleged forced and illegal adoptions from the homes and the relationships between the institutions and children’s homes, orphanages and adoption societies.

It will also investigate postmortem practices including the reporting of deaths, burial arrangements and the transfer of remains to educational institutions for anatomical examinations.

The Commission is located at No 73, Lower Baggot Street in Dublin 2. Mr Reilly said details of how members of the public could contact the commission and make submissions to it would be announced shortly.