Northern Ireland

Key report on north's Mother and Baby homes to be published next month

The former Marianvale mother and baby home in Newry
The former Marianvale mother and baby home in Newry The former Marianvale mother and baby home in Newry

A KEY report on Northern Ireland's Mother and Baby homes and Magdalene laundries is to be published next month.

The report, by the Truth Recovery panel, is expected to make recommendations on what form an investigation into the homes should take.

Survivors' group, Birth Mothers and their Children for Justice, have consistently asked for a statutory inquiry which would have the power to compel witnesses and ensure the disclosure of documents.

The panel is due to publish its recommendations at a meeting at the Stormont Hotel in Belfast on Tuesday, October 5.

Mother and Baby homes, run by the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the Salvation Army, existed in Northern Ireland until the 1980s.

The Truth Recovery panel was set up after a report by researchers from Queen’s University and Ulster University, published in January, found that more than 10,000 women and children, including rape and incest victims and a girl as young as 12, were sent to homes in the north between 1922 and 1990.

Solicitor Claire McKeegan, of Phoenix Law, who represents Birth Mothers and their Children for Justice, said a compensation scheme needs to run alongside any inquiry.

"The survivors right through this process have impressed upon the Truth and Recovery panel the absolute need for a full statutory inquiry, a living archive and a redress scheme to run in tandem," she said.

"These women are in their seventies and eighties. They can't wait another 10 years for a redress scheme at the end (of an inquiry).

"We've seen in other jurisdictions when the statutory inquiry and the redress scheme can run parallel. That's what survivors have insisted on."

She said survivors are hopeful their requests will be met.

"The survivors have been very clear on what they want and we'd hopeful that this panel will deliver," she said.

"These women are running out of time.

"Since I started representing them in 2012, many women are no longer with us."

Birth Mothers and their Children for Justice met Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie and Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon earlier this week amid fears that the DUP's threat to collapse Stormont over the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol could delay any inquiry.

Ms McKeegan said both politicians assured the group that they would support survivors.