The State has acknowledged in the High Court that the failure to provide a pre-publication draft copy of the report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Home survivors of those homes breached their rights.
Two women, Philomena Lee and Mary Harney, had sought to have parts of the final report quashed. The court was due to hear further submissions before giving judgment on their cases. The two cases formed a representative sample of eight similar actions in total. Michael Lynn SC told the court on Friday of last week that the cases had been settled. He stated that the State consented to the making of a declaration in each case that the State had failed in its duty to provide each woman with the parts of the report relevant to her in advance of the report’s finalisation.
An acknowledgement by the Minister for Children that each of the women disputes sections of the report will be published together with the report as well as in the Oireachtas library and online. The acknowledgment will list those parts of the report which the survivors do not accept, and will note that the survivors would have been able to ask the Commission to correct the statements they dispute had they been provided with draft copies of extracts from the report. The State will also pay the women’s costs. Mr Justice Garrett Simons expressed his sympathy for the position in which the applicants had found themselves, noting that the cases were very sensitive and that each of the applicants had greatly suffered during their time in the homes.
Sinead Gibney, the Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said that it never ought to have been necessary to take the cases. She praised the resilience and strength of Ms Harney and Ms Lee as well as other survivors seeking to have their accounts told accurately. She said that there needs to be a change in the State’s attitude towards all those who have been victims or survivors of State wrongdoing.
The Clann Project, which has been advocating for the survivors and providing them with support, said in a statement that the report of the Commission of Investigation was fatally flawed and could no longer be regarded as a credible record. It called upon the Government to amend the redress scheme radically and to extend it to categories of people previously excluded from it. It has also called for inquests into the disappearances and deaths of mothers and children and for the Government to grant full access to the archive of the Commission.