Legal aid project for Mother and Baby Homes witnesses

Justice for Magdalenes Research and Adoption Rights Alliance have launched a pro-bono legal initiative to assist witnesses drafting statements to the state commission of inquiry.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes will not provide any legal advice to affected individuals who wish to submit a witness statement to the body.

Speaking yesterday, Maeve O’Rourke, of Justice for Magdalenes, said legal advice would be crucial to people or relatives of those affected by abuse in Mother and Baby homes.

“It is something that people should have been provided with,” she said, given the potential major legal implications of the of the commission’s findings. The statements compiled with the help of the Clann initiative could be used by individuals as the basis to take action seeking compensation from the State.

Ms O’Rourke stated that future reparations could come in many forms for potential victims, from financial compensation, to access to medical records and the identification of the whereabouts of remains.

Clann will provide free witness statement assistance with the help of UK legal firm Hogan Lovell, and compile a group submission of statements to submit to the commission.

“The group submission by Clann will draw conclusions about the various forms of abuse that may have happened, the various human rights violations that may have happened, and then make recommendations on the basis of that for various forms of reparations,” Ms O’Rourke said.

Susan Lohan, of the Adoption Rights Alliance, added: “The State needs to face up to its past failings. I think Clann is really going to open up this can of worms.”

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