As researchers – historians, social scientists, journalists, legal experts, researchers on Irish culture -and survivors who have been forced to do our own research we reject the conclusions of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes and in particular its claims about the evidence, which are deeply flawed.
The report does no justice to the survivors whose testimonies are at the centre of the inquiry, and it draws conclusions based on a partial and biased review of the evidence, which systematically downplays survivor testimony. Many of the leading experts in the area have already put their rejection of this approach on record.
There is ample expertise available in Ireland and internationally to tell a far more detailed, accurate and precise story about the institutions of the mother-and-baby homes and the women and children who spent time in them than the one presented in the current report. The report’s conclusions ignore the existing research on these subjects and falls far behind them in its methods and understanding.
The historic record is ill-served by this document, and we do not accept its conclusions as fact or its methodology as credible.
As has been observed many times in the past weeks, the report contains multiple inaccuracies and presents survivor testimony in an unethical and unreliable way. We wish to draw attention to specific aspects of the report that are most egregious:
We the undersigned note that the information gathered by the Commission of Inquiry is of immense importance, most especially the 500 survivor testimonies collected. However, the ensuing report is in no way the final word on the experiences of thousands of women and children who passed through Ireland’s institutional architecture in the 20th century, and falls far short of existing research in the field. Future research must endeavour to understand the full extent of the systematic discrimination against women which enabled this system of institutional harm, and continues to influence Ireland’s polity today. It will need to focus in depth on questions of profit and loss; of Church and state relations of power; of marginalisation, exclusion and intersecting discrimination – for instance against black and mixed race women and children, the Mincéir community and women and children with physical and intellectual disabilities.
In all of this the experience and concerns of survivors must be centre-stage, along with the meaningful forms of redress they are asking for. We fully endorse the recommendations of the Clann Project, the joint initiative of Justice for Magdalanes Research and the Adoption Rights Alliance. A detailed list of recommendations can be found here http://clannproject.org/commission-report/; in sum, they are:
1. ACCESS TO RECORDS LEGISLATION
2. EXPLICIT RIGHTS FOR PEOPLE ADOPTED OVERSEAS
3. PROPER IMPLEMENTATION OF EU GDPR RIGHTS
4. REDRESS AND REPARATIONS
5. ACCESS TO COURT
6. DEDICATED CRIMINAL JUSTICE UNIT & HUMAN RIGHTS-COMPLIANT CORONER’S INQUESTS
7. REPEAL OF ‘GAGGING’ ORDERS
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