February 3, 2021

The report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was published on the 12th of January 2021. The Commission investigated the treatment of mothers and babies in the fifteen mother and baby homes in the State, and also in three County Homes, for the period 1922 to 1998. The Commission found that the high rate of infant mortality in the said homes was probably the most disquieting feature of these institutions, with about 9,000 children dying during the period under investigation, approximately 15% of all the children who were in the said institutions.

Regarding the harsh and oppressive mistreatment suffered by the mothers and children who survived the said institutions, the Minister for Children Mr Roderic O’Gorman, in the Seanad on the 14th of January, spoke of the profound wrong that was done to such women and children and of the repeated failures in their treatment over many decades. The Minister also spoke of how a comprehensive, meaningful and generous response was required from the State. 

The Commission’s two main recommendations were that a redress scheme be established, and that adopted people should have a right of access to their birth certificates, adoption records and medical information.  

As regards the redress scheme recommendation, the Minister stated that proposals for such a scheme, which he referred to as a Restorative Recognition Scheme to provide financial recognition, would be brought forward by the end of April. He also stated that the Government’s considerations in relation to who would be eligible for such a redress scheme would not be restricted to the categories suggested by the Commission. 

As regards calculating the financial redress that should be awarded to applicants under the said scheme the Commission expressed the view that for children born in the said homes a comparable scheme would be the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme which was set up for people who had resided in industrial schools, and that a comparable scheme for mothers who had been in the said homes would be the Magdalene Laundries redress scheme which had been set up for people who had worked in the said laundries. It remains to be seen on what basis does the Government ultimately propose that financial redress be assessed. 

As regards access to early life personal information for adopted people, the Minister undertook to move promptly with the preparation of Information and Tracing legislation and to take all other appropriate steps to facilitate access to relevant records and archives. The Minister also stated that the provision of enhanced medical cards, counselling services and legislation providing for the exhumation of burial sites were among other steps that would be considered by the Government. 

BKC Solicitors have gained extensive experience from acting over the years for people who resided in institutional settings and represented a large number of former residents of industrial schools in respect of their Residential Institutions Redress Scheme applications. 

If you require assistance or advice in respect of the proposed Mother and Baby Homes redress scheme or any other related issue, please contact Brian Burns at (01) 497 6877 or +353 1 497 6877 from outside Ireland.  

We will continue to update our website in relation to developments concerning the establishment of the said Mother and Baby Homes redress scheme and associated issues.”