Investigating Ireland's mother and baby homes

Between 1922 and 1998, children born to single mothers in Ireland were subject to forced, secret adoptions and other abuses in mother and baby homes established by the government and the church. To this day, neither the children nor their mothers have the right to access information about their own cases. Tens of thousands of mothers were forced into giving their children up for adoption. Many of the facilities' residents recall abuse, neglect, and cruelty.

Alongside Adoption Rights Alliance and Justice for Magdelenes Research, a joint initiative known as the "Clann Project," lawyers from our London office submitted a report making recommendations to the government's Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. The report is the result of three years of evidence gathering, drawing on conversations with 164 victims and referencing 77 witness statements.

Many of the recommendations in the Clann Report were taken up when the Commission of Enquiry reported to the Irish government as the commission noted that "the report found that approximately 9,000 newborns, infants, and young children died at facilities across the country." This prompted unprecedented apologies in full in February 2020 from The Taoiseach, the Irish Prime Minister, and The Church of Ireland, which described a "dark, difficult, and shameful chapter of Irish history."

Importantly, the government confirmed the recommendations highlighted by the Clann Report, including:

  • committing to a gathering of all institutional records into a central repository and the establishment of a "national memorial and records centre"
  • a commitment to change the law to allow for people to have access to their birth and adoption documentation as a right.

Read the press release.

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