Northern Ireland news

Mother and baby home survivors 'very disappointed' as Stormont impasse delays public inquiry

Adele Johnstone of the Birth Mothers and their Children for Justice group has spoken of victims' frustration following delays to a public inquiry into mother and baby homes. Picture by Mal McCann

A SURVIVOR of a mother and baby home has said victims have been let down as promises of a public inquiry remain unfulfilled due to the Stormont impasse.

Following recommendations made by an expert panel, the executive agreed last November that a public inquiry should be set up.

Politicians also backed recommendations for an independent panel to hear victims' testimonies and agreed compensation should be paid to victims.

However, the DUP boycott of Stormont over the Northern Ireland Protocol has meant there has been no functioning executive since February.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – which aims to rip up parts of the EU-UK agreement – is expected to reach the House of Lords before October.

Labour's House of Lords leader and former NIO minister Baroness Angela Smith said anger is building over the bill, which she said she would be fully scrutinised.

Some have contended that the bill breaks international law.

The Republic's foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock also warned yesterday that there is “no legal or political justification for unilateral action”.

Adele Johnstone, from Birth Mothers and their Children for Justice, said survivors felt deeply frustrated that the lack of a proper executive has delayed an inquiry.

Ms Johnstone said campaigners had been pushing for justice for more than 15 years.

"We feel very disappointed," she said.

"We've seen what happened with the HIA [Historical Institutional Abuse] inquiry and we've seen what happened with Troubles redress and now we're another one along the line."

A landmark report, published in January last year, found that around 10,500 women and children were sent to homes between 1922 and 1990.

Around 3,000 women were sent to Magdalene Laundries.

Ms Johnstone said survivors have been let down, with all the agreed recommendations "stalled due to the political situation in Northern Ireland".

Solicitor Claire McKeegan, right, of Phoenix Law, who acts for the group, said she would be writing to the head of the civil service and the Executive Office to ask why the commitments agreed have not been enacted.

"It's disappointing that another group of traumatised victims and survivors have been let down by the current dysfunctional executive," she said.

"Ministers made a cast-iron commitment to deliver for victims and survivors of mother and baby homes and were the executive to be in place, this would be done."

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