Mother and baby homes inquiry terms ‘fail to reference justice or redress’

Natural mothers have hit out at the terms of the mother and baby home inquiry for failing to reference justice or redress for those affected.

The criticisms come in advance of the second debate on the issue to be held in the Dáil this evening. The Government is under mounting pressure to include Magdalene Laundries, private adoption agencies and a myriad of related institutions in the inquiry.

In a statement, the Irish First Mothers Group said the failure to mention justice or redress meant the Commission “fails the standard for such inquiries as identified in a 2014 UN human rights review which found that Irish inquiries and redress schemes failed to meet the UN standard for ‘thorough and effective investigations’”.

The group also hit out at the fact that, under section 19 of the Commissions of Investigations Act 2004, statements and documents given to the commission are inadmissable as evidence against a person in any criminal or other proceedings.

“There is no formal arrangement for prosecutors to act on or review evidential material as it emerges — with a view to gathering testimony outside the ambit of the commission for worthwhile prosecutions.

Nor have any special Garda resources been allocated to support any such review or prosecutions,” it said.

The Department of Justice said the while the commission does not bring criminal charges or take prosecutions, if its reports reveal instances of criminality these will be referred to gardaí.

“The minister would also encourage any person with complaints relating to matters of a potentially criminal nature to report these concerns directly to the gardaí.

There is no requirement to await this commission’s consideration of such matters,” said a statement.

This advice comes despite adoption campaigners pointing out that tens of thousands of adopted people and natural parents have no legal right to copies of all material held, or not held in their adoption files, which may prove such illegality.

Meanwhile, an ebook entitled Adoptileaks was issued to all TDs and senators. Written by Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes (CMABS), it examines over two decades of local government reports on mother and baby homes revealing infant mortality rates at multiples of the national rate.

The study shows that international comparisons found Ireland was far worse than Britain in its mortality rates for ‘illegitimate’ children.

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