Probe into mother and baby homes costs €1.8m

The commission of investigation into mother and baby homes has cost the State €1.78m to date, Children’s Minister James Reilly has revealed.

The commission, which is due to publish its findings in February 2018, was set up last year to determine whether women and children in mother and baby homes were subject to forced separation or mistreated, and if these abuses were subsequently covered up.

The three-person commission is comprised of chairwoman Judge Yvonne Murphy and commissioners William Duncan, an international legal expert on child protection and adoption, and Prof Mary E Daly, a historian.

Mr Reilly revealed the costs in his reply to a parliamentary question from Renua leader Lucinda Creighton.

He said the €1.78m spent to date includes set-up costs and costs incurred by his department in supporting the commission.

The commission’s terms of reference have been criticised by survivors groups for being too narrow.

In December the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors delivered a letter to the offices of the commission of investigation to demand that the terms of reference be widened.

The group believes the stipulation that the commission is to only investigate the cases of children born in the mother and baby homes means that the cases of two-thirds of those separated by such institutions are excluded from the inquiry, as they were born outside the homes.

“There cannot, nor should not, be a hierarchy of survivors,” the letter to the commission states.

“The pain felt by natural mothers and their adopted sons and daughters is the same regardless of whether the separation happened in a mother and baby home or elsewhere. All survivors are equal and we stand as a united community.

“Consider two babies side by side in cribs in Temple Hill Holding Center for babies in Blackrock, Co Dublin — one born in a Mother and baby home, one in Holles Street hospital. Both are alone, both went on to be adopted. One is included in the inquiry, one is excluded. Is this fair?”

The letter calls for immediate acknowledgement, apology, and redress from the Government to survivors because there is “already a surplus of hard evidence and a rock solid, irrefutable, prima facie case that the horrors of the forced separation of single mothers and their sons and daughters — both inside and outside of the mother and baby homes — are proven beyond any shadow of doubt”.

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