Inquiry report into mother and baby homes may be delayed

Exceptional length and general election flagged as reasons that could stall publication

Publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation's final report could be delayed due to its exceptional length

The document is on schedule to be presented to Government on February 18th next, said a spokeswoman. But another factor which could stall its publication is a possible general election next month, followed by extended negotiations afterwards on the formation of a new government.

The report will be received by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone next month. But publication is not expected to take place for sometime afterwards as the report is understood to be exceptionally lengthy and will require time for consideration by Government prior to publication.

The mother and baby homes commission has been inquiring into the treatment of, and dealings with, women and children in 14 mother and baby homes as well as four county homes between 1922 and 1998.


Announcing establishment of the commission in February 2015 then taoiseach Enda Kenny said it would report within three years. But it requested and was granted two extensions of one year in each case, finally announcing in January 2019 that its report would be presented to Government next month.

As with the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the mother and baby homes commission has two “arms”: an investigation committee, and a confidential panel where people could speak in confidence of their experiences in relevant institutions.

The commission is chaired by Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy. She also chaired the Dublin archdiocese commission of investigation, whose Murphy report was published in November 2009, and the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, the Cloyne report, published in July 2011.

Her colleagues on the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation include Dr Mary Daly, retired professor of Irish History at UCD and former president of the Royal Irish Academy, as well as Dr William Duncan, retired professor of Law at TCD.

Dr Duncan is also retired deputy secretary general of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, where he had general responsibility for overseeing implementation of the Hague children’s conventions dealing with international child abduction, inter-country adoption and international child protection.

What homes are under review?

The report will examine mother and baby homes at Dunboyne, Co Meath, Belmont in Dublin 4, Bessboro in Cork city, the Bethany Home in Dublin, the mother and baby home at Tuam, Co Galway, Denny House in Dublin 4, the home at Kilrush, Co Clare, Manor House at Castlepollard, Co Westmeath, Ms Carr's in Dublin 6, the Regina Coeli Hostel in Dublin 7, Sean Ross Abbey at Roscrea, Co Tipperary, St Gerard's in Dublin 1, St Patrick's on the Navan Road in Dublin 7, later Dublin 4, and the Castle at Newtowncunningham, Co Donegal.

The county homes were St Kevin's in Dublin, Stranorlar County Home in Donegal, Cork city County Home, and Thomastown County Home in Kilkenny.

The mother and baby home commission has already published five interim reports. Its fifth, published last April, found that burial locations of hundreds of children who died in the mother and baby homes remain unknown.

Where the mother and baby home at Tuam was concerned, it found that scientific analysis on underground chambers there “suggests that at least some of the chambers in which human remains were found were at some stage used to receive sewage”.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times