Northern Ireland to hold inquiry into mother and baby institutions and Magdalene laundries
A statutory public inquiry into mother and baby institutions and Magdalane laundries in Northern Ireland will take place as part of an “integrated truth investigation”, the Northern Ireland Executive has announced.
Ministers have agreed all recommendations in the report produced by the truth recovery design panel led by Professor Phil Scraton, Dr Maeve O’Rourke and Deirdre Mahon, working alongside victims and survivors in a “co-design process”.
They include the establishment of an integrated truth investigation made up of an expert independent panel and a public inquiry; a redress and reparation package; and measures to secure access to relevant records, such as the introduction of a statutory duty to compel the relevant institutions, adoption-related bodies and baby homes, to preserve and not destroy relevant records.
Belfast firm KRW LAW LLP, which is instructed by a number of survivors of mother and baby homes, Magdalane laundries and industrial/factory schools, welcomed the announcement.
First minister Paul Givan said: “This is an important day for victims and survivors of mother and baby institutions and Magdalene laundries.
“The experiences of women and girls in these institutions, and what has happened to them and their children in the years since, is deeply troubling. The testimony of victims and survivors exposes appalling treatment as well as the deep pain and trauma that has been caused by these shameful practices.
“I hope that victims and survivors will take some comfort from the Executive’s commitment to deliver all the panel’s recommendations, as well as our shared determination to uncover the full truth and ensure those affected get the acknowledgement and redress they deserve.”
Deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This is a defining moment for victims and survivors of mother and baby institutions and Magdalene Laundries, who are now one step closer to getting the truth that has been denied to them for decades.
“Our thoughts are very much with all the victims and survivors, who were so grievously failed, and have lived for many years with the unimaginable pain and trauma inflicted on them. Their needs are our absolute priority and they should not have to wait any longer to see action. Our attention must turn now to progress the implementation of all recommendations as quickly as possible.
“Work will begin immediately on establishing a consultative forum, undertaking groundwork on the necessary legislation for the inquiry and financial redress, and the preservation of records.”
Aine Rice of KRW LAW said: “We are pleased with this announcement and welcome it on behalf of our clients – victims of a system of systemic institutional abuse by a variety of religious orders with the knowledge of the state.
“An immediate scheme of redress is very important. Any statutory public inquiry must be survivor-centred and compliant with human rights standards and ensure cross-border co-operation.”