Mother-and-baby inquiry 'should cover other institutions'

Government urged to uphold UN Human Rights principles and rulings of European Court

Magdalene laundries and County Homes should be included in terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation into mother and baby homes , four advocacy groups have said.

In a joint statement tonight, the groups also called for the investigation, announced last week by Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan, to be carried out by an independent commission, including at least one international expert.

In a statement, Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR), Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA), Bethany Survivors Group and the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI), called on on the Government "to meet international best practice requirements" in the proposed Commission of Investigation by including the Magdalene laundries and county homes.

Katherine O’Donnell of JFMR said the inclusion of the Magdalene laundries was “absolutely essential to ensuring that the truth of what happened in all of these institutions is brought to light”.


Boston College Prof James Smith, also of JFMR, said the terms of reference of the McAleese committee, which investigated the Magdalene laundries, did not allow it to investigate individual complaints of abuse or examine fully the religious orders' financial records.

ARA spokeswoman Susan Lohan said it was imperative, given the international dimension to forced adoptions, that there is an international expert in the field involved with the investigation.

Niall Meehan of the Bethany group it was vital that "transparency, accountability and a commitment to ensuring that the experiences and testimonies of survivors, their next of kin and representative groups are placed at the heart of the investigation".

Rachel Doyle of NWCI said there must be no attempt to minimise physical or psychological abuse. "Survivor testimonies must be the most important resource in the inquiry," she said.

JFMR’s Maeve O’Rourke said the four groups’ demands were informed by rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and principles established by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

"We are calling on the Irish Government to uphold these principles in carrying out this investigation to ensure that truth and justice prevail in the interests of survivors, their families and of Irish society," she said.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times