Warning issued on mother-and-baby homes inquiry

Complaint to UN panel against torture likely if remit limited, says survivor group

Minister for Children James Reilly: announced that the publication of the terms of reference for the commission of investigation into mother-and-baby homes has been postponed until autumn. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Children James Reilly: announced that the publication of the terms of reference for the commission of investigation into mother-and-baby homes has been postponed until autumn. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

A group representing people housed in mother-and-baby homes has warned that it will bring a complaint to the UN Committee Against Torture if the terms of a forthcoming inquiry are not inclusive.

Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors said the terms of reference of the Government’s commission of investigation into mother-and-baby homes must be comprehensive.

“My hope for the terms of reference is that they will be as full and inclusive as possible and that the entire issue of how society treated unmarried mothers before and after the birth of their children should be looked at,” he said.

He said this should include all women and children housed in State-supported mother-and-baby homes, those run by religious orders, county homes, Protestant-run homes, private homes including the Regina Coeli hostels, institutions such as Stamullen, Co Meath and St Patrick’s Infant Hospital in Temple Hill, Blackrock and other associated institutions as well as adoption practices.

Wide-ranging inquiry

“If the terms of reference fail to meet our expectations we will bring the issue to the UN Committee against Torture to try and force the Government to widen the terms of reference to include everything and everybody,” he said.

Meanwhile, Claire McGettrick of the Adoption Rights Alliance said past adoption practices were “inextricably linked” to the mother-and-baby homes and needed to be fully investigated as part of the inquiry.

“This needs to be done as quickly as possible because there are people who are of a certain age who aren’t going to be around much longer who can shed light on this so we need to act quickly to get to the bottom of this,” she said.

‘Forced adoption’

Ms McGettrick added that proposed adoption tracing legislation “will not solve the problems of the past”. “There has been no acknowledgement of the impact of loss of identity on adopted people and the effects of disenfranchised grief on both adopted people and their natural mothers which are themselves an abuse”.

Last week Minister for Children James Reilly announced that the publication of the terms of reference for the commission of investigation into mother-and-baby homes has been postponed until autumn.