THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF INVESTIGATION – MOTHER AND BABY HOMES – WHY THIS REPORT MUST BE QUASHED – PRE-ACTION CORRESPONDENCE TO BE SENT TO IRISH CHILDREN’S MINISTER
KRW LAW LLP (KRW) is to send pre-action correspondence to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman TD in a legal move to have the Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes set aside and quashed.
KRW represents a number of victims and survivors of the Irish Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries and Industrial School that operated across Ireland until at least the 1980s. They include Maria Arbuckle, now living in England, who was raised in an Industrial School in Northern Ireland and then gave birth in a Mother and Baby Home in the South of Ireland when her baby was forcibly removed from her and adopted.
Since the publication in Dublin in January of this year of the Report of the Commission of Investigation, KRW has made substantial submissions to the Irish government that the work of the Commission and its recommendations and conclusion did not comply with human rights standards of investigation, specifically those engaged when there has been a breach or violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which is the absolute prohibition on torture, inhuman and degrading treatment.
We have also made similar submissions to the Stormont Executive and made demands that any future investigation must be both human rights compliant and have mechanisms in place for cross-border co-operation and be victim focussed.
These submissions have also been made to the UN Committee against Torture (UNCAT), the EU Parliament Petitions Committee and the relevant UN Special Rapporteurs and the EU Human Rights Commissioner.
Now it has become clear that the status of the Report is untenable and it must be set aside and quashed by way of a judicial declaration.
This arises from a recent report that one of the members of the Commission of Investigation made remarks during an online academic seminar. Her remarks demonstrate the fundamental flaws in how the Commission conducted its work and the assumptions it made. Her remarks effectively amounted to an admission that the Commission ignored and disregarded the testimony of victims and survivors whose voices should have been core to the methodology.
Her comments were reported in The Irish Times on 3 June 2021 and subject to a comment piece by Fintan O’Toole in the same newspaper on 7 June 2021:
‘The panel member said “If the report reads as legalistic, if the report doesn’t include some evidence that people gave to the confidential inquiry there is a reason why it’s not there.” For example, she said the Commission experienced “heavy pushback” from religious orders who ran the homes.
In the seminar’s chat function, one woman wrote that she found her personal testimony in the confidential committee report in two places. She said there were 14 identifying factors in each piece and wrote “it was me”. However, she said it was “littered with inaccuracies and misrepresentations” which changed the context and accuracy of her story.’
In The Irish Examiner newspaper today, the panel member is reported to have described survivors testimony as ‘stories’. Previously the Commission Panel members declined to be examined by the Oireachtas Children’s Committee
KRW will be working with victims and survivors, support groups and human rights organisations to have the Report quashed and set aside and we will continue to seek a human rights compliant investigation.