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16th Nov 2021

Mother-and-baby homes in Northern Ireland to be investigated

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Progress is being made.

An investigation into the treatment of women and children in mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland is being described as a “watershed moment” by deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

Confirming that the Executive was committed to the “unequivocal and full implementation” of a series of recommendations proposed by an expert panel, there will be a public inquiry and redress scheme carried out.

The ongoings that occurred in mother-and-baby homes, Magdalene laundries and workhouses that thousands of women and children endured will now be examined.

As well as a public inquiry, the expert panel is set to recommend the creation of a non-statutory independent panel which will allow anyone who was sent to these institutions to give a full testimony in a less adversarial format.

Legislation is also being recommended to preserve and give access to records of those institutions that have been under fire.

Speaking alongside First Minister Paul Givan, O’Neill spoke ahead of her announcement in the Assembly chamber.

“I believe that this is a watershed moment for the women and adult children of mother-and-baby institutions, Magdalene laundries and of workhouses,” she said.

“And we must remember that this will be a difficult and emotional day for many.

“Our thoughts are very much with all the victims and survivors, who were so grievously failed and have lived for many years with the unimaginable pain and trauma inflicted on them.”

An academic research report was published earlier this year that showed the mistreatment of thousands of women and girls from these institutions.

The research was carried out by Queen’s University and Ulster University and found that over 14,000 girls and women went through the doors of mother-and-baby homes, Magdalene laundries and other institutions between 1922 and 1990.

It also found that these women were held against their will and forced to give up their children for adoption.