Today, a draft rewritten Executive Summary of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation (COI) Final Report was published by a group of academics. Amnesty International Ireland considers this a timely initiative and hugely important piece of work. It is a damning indictment of the COI’s findings, analysis and processes, but also points to a way forward for survivors achieving truth, justice and reparation.
We commend all those who took part in this wholly voluntary project, especially survivors of these institutions. Particular credit is due to the work of the Clann Project over many years.
Based on the same set of evidence and testimonies available to the COI when drafting its own Executive Summary, the authors arrive at a fundamentally different picture of the harms done to women and children in and as a result of those institutions. The draft gives us, and the government, a clear and compelling analysis of the many grave human rights abuses inflicted, including of the rights to liberty, privacy and freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment.
Contrary to the COI’s analysis, it finds significant evidence of coerced adoption, amounting in many cases to forced adoption. It outlines the human rights abuses and often lifelong suffering this caused women and their children.
It points to the ample evidence available to the COI of additional discrimination experienced in those institutions by mixed-race, disabled, and Traveller women and children, and those who were poor. Its nuanced illustration of the specific abuses and violations of cultural rights experienced by the Traveller community shows the particular value of including affected groups in these investigations.
It lays the blame at the right door – the state’s, for its failure to exercise due diligence in preventing and investigating those systematic abuses, and holding those responsible to account.
It describes the wider networks and system of institutionalisation at the time, and how this continues today in some ‘care’ settings.
Critically, it dissects and exposes the very serious defects in the COI’s views and recommendations on redress for survivors.
The authors note the limited number of institutions investigated by the COI, and the limited information it unveiled. A full and comprehensive account of what happened to women and children in these institutions still remains out of reach. However, this rewritten Executive Summary will correct the record on what the COI evidence shows.
We call on the Government to publicly and unequivocally acknowledge that the COI Report is not the official record of what survivors experienced in these institutions. It must do all within its power to put this right. Otherwise the state will once again fail survivors as it did with the Magdalene Laundries.