Northern Ireland news

Mother and baby homes inquiry must have powers to deliver justice, say survivors

The former Marianvale mother and baby home in Newry. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association
Rebecca Black, PA

A public inquiry into homes for unmarried mothers in Northern Ireland must have the powers to deliver truth and justice, survivors have said.

More than 10,000 women and girls, from the age of 12, went through the doors of homes run by Catholic orders and Protestant clergy.

A recently published report disclosed claims of inappropriate labour and an ethos of shame at the homes.

A "victim-centred" independent investigation was ordered by the Stormont executive, as First Minister Arlene Foster pledged the voices of survivors would be heard "loudly and clearly".

Survivors of mother and baby homes, Magdalene Laundries and industrial homes held a virtual meeting on the way forward on Thursday evening.

Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said about 30 survivors attended.

He said they expressed strong support for a full public inquiry, and demanded a full say in determining its powers and terms of reference.

"Based on what was said at the meeting, not only is a public inquiry firmly on the table, survivors want to get around that table to ensure the inquiry has the powers to deliver truth and justice," he said.

Eunan Duffy, who was born to a mother placed in the Marianvale home in Newry, said there is a "huge appetite" to start designing a public inquiry.

"We heard at the meeting that survivors do not just want to be consulted, they want full participation in decision-making on the inquiry and other matters which affect their lives," he said.

Another meeting is set to be held next Thursday.

Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin has said he would support a public inquiry.

Mr Corrigan said his statement was welcome, but his words "will be tested by the degree to which they are followed by action on disclosure of records and redress by the church and Catholic religious orders".

He urged the leaders of the Protestant churches to make similar pledges.

"Survivors from these 'homes' also want to hear from the leaders of the churches which were responsible for their suffering in the name of a repressive moral code," he said.

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