Former Mother and Baby Home Residents Bring High Court Challenges Against Report of the Commission of Investigation

A number of women including Ms Philomena Lee have brought High Court challenges with a view to quashing elements of the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.  On the 12th of April Mr Justice Simmons in the High Court granted leave for Ms Lee’s legal team leave to issue proceedings. Four other similar cases were also granted leave and all five cases have been adjourned until the 11th of May. Ms Lee is now 88 and resides in the UK. At 18 she became pregnant and gave birth to her son in Sean Ross Abbey Mother and Baby Home, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. When her son Anthony was 3 years old, he was adopted by a couple from the United States.


The book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” was written about her search for son and the book was later made into the movie “Philomena”.  Ms Lee’s son died before she had an opportunity to be reunited with him. In 2014 Ms Lee and her family established the Philomena Lee Project to assist other families that were similarly affected.

Ms Lee states in her challenge that though she is not actually named in the commission’s report she is in fact readily identifiable and as a result she should be entitled to have a chance to make submissions on the elements of the report that relate to her case before the report was completed. She further claims there has been a breach of her European Convention rights and her Constitutional Rights. In a document submitted  to the court it was noted, by Ms Wendy Lyon solicitor for Ms Lee, that Ms Lee’s evidence was that she was not provided with the appropriate opportunity to consider a document she was required to sign to give up her rights to her son, this contradicts the finding of the commission that there was no evidence to support the opinion of some of the women that the consent they gave for the adoption of their children was not full, free and informed.

Last March Ms Mary Harney, who was born in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork in 1949, was also granted permission to bring an action with a view to quashing certain elements of the Commission’s final report. Similar to Ms Lee, Ms Harney claimed there was a breach of her statutory rights when she was not given an opportunity to make submission’s on the draft report prior to the publishing on the final report. 

A case is also being brought by Ms Mari Steed, the US Co-ordinator of the Adoption Rights Alliance, who was born in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork. Ms Steed is seeking to have quashed the finding of the Commission that there was no evidence that the vaccine trials carried out in the institutions caused harm to any child.

How can we help?

Coleman Legal have been working to assist individuals affected by the legacy of Irelands shameful past. Coleman Legal have worked closely with individuals (both mothers and children born into these institutions) for many years pursuing cases for adoptees and illegally adopted persons against the religious Orders and the State.  With news of the conclusion of the Commission’s report, Coleman Legal are keen to review the report and in particular, to see what provisions have been made or are being recommended, to provide restitution to the affected community.

Coleman Legal are ready to assist persons affected by assisting in applications to any satisfactory redress scheme that may be initiated.


Norman spicer

Senior Solicitor
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