Irish survivors call for wider homes probe

25 July 2014


Tuam remembered: people leave candles and mementos during a march and candlelit vigil from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to the gates of Dail Eireann on Merrion Square, Dublin, last month 

Tuam remembered: people leave candles and mementos during a march and candlelit vigil from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to the...

SURVIVORS of Protestant-run mother-and-baby homes in the Irish Republic are hoping that these institutions, which operated between 1922 and 1960, will be included in a new inquiry which is to be led by a former Circuit Court judge, Yvonne Murphy.

The retired judge led the government's commission investigating clerical sex-abuse of children, which caused a significant rift betweenthe Vatican and the Irish State. Her remit on the new inquiry will include the home in Tuam, in which almost 800 babies and children died between 1925 and 1961, and several other institutions (News, 13 June).

Campaigners are also hoping that four homes run by Protestant Evangelicals, in Dublin and the adjoining Co. Wicklow, will be added to the list.

The boards of these institutions were populated by members of Reformed Churches, including the Church of Ireland and Plymouth Brethren, although the Churches themselves did not run the homes.

Support groups have called for a comprehensive review of all institutions involved with unmarried mothers and their babies, as well as the illegal adoptions that are allegedly associated with the homes.

Paul Redmond, of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors, said that the whole issue of society's approach to unmarried mothers should be examined. "If the terms of reference fail to meet our expectations, we will bring the issue to the UN Committee Against Torture to try and force the government to widen the terms of reference to include everything and everybody," he said.

The leader of the organisation Adoption Rights Alliance, Claire McGettrick, said that a timely inquiry was essential, as some witnesses of advanced age, who could provide vital evidence, needed to be interviewed while they were still able to do so.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, has welcomed Judge Murphy's appointment. "It is my hope that this inquiry will lead to deeper compassionate understanding of what people have experienced, and provide lessons for the present and the future," he said.

The Irish government's Minister for Children, Dr James Reilly, said that the terms of reference for the inquiry would not be decided until the autumn.

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