MOTHER AND BABY HOMES: REDRESS FOR THE SOUTH – AND THE NORTH?
KRW LAW LLP (KRW) represents a significant number of women and children who were subjected to the Mother and Baby Home system that operated across Ireland.
Last week the Irish Government in Dublin announced its plans to introduce a promised scheme of financial redress for those women and children who were residents of Mother and Baby Homes in its jurisdiction. The proposed scheme has been controversial and continues to be criticised in terms of its for provisions for entitlement.
However, the administration in Dublin is at least now addressing one aspect of the tragic Legacy of the Mother and Baby Home system.
Other aspects, of course, require addressing. One of these are the issues arising from the cross-border elements of the system which was a further mechanism to facilitate abuse and human rights violations.
These elements include forced adoptions and removal of infants from the birth mother where the mother may have become pregnant whilst in an institution in the North, for example an Industrial School, and given birth in a Mother and Baby Home in the South. Other elements include the administration of adoptions between North and South and foster care arrangements where abuse may have occurred.
KRW, in its substantial submissions to Dublin, Belfast and the United Nations, has argued forcefully for a human rights compliant cross-border investigation into these examples and others (including the medical procedure of symphysiotomy) in accordance with the standards imposed upon countries contracted to the European Convention on Human Rights, including Ireland and UK.
In Belfast it is now over year since the Truth Recovery Design Panel delivered its Report to the Northern Ireland Executive. One of the Recommendations of the Panel, all of which were accepted by the Executive with a commitment to implement, was an urgent redress payments scheme. This has not yet happened.
Aine Rice, of the KRW Institutional Abuse Department, said:
“The continued political vacuum at Stormont is affecting many aspects of everyday life in Northern Ireland. Regarding the Recommendations of the Truth Recovery Design Panel and the need for an urgent redress payments scheme for victims of the Mother and Baby Homes system, the recommendation was accepted by the Executive, the civil service could implement it and a template already exists in the form of the Northern Ireland Redress Scheme. This impasse must be broken.”