Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster (above) launched the publication of a Stormont-commissioned report into mother-and-baby homes and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland.
The research carried out by Queen’s University and Ulster University examined whether a public inquiry should be held into the homes.
Ms Foster said:
“First and foremost, we want to offer our personal thanks to those women and their now adult children who came forward to contribute to the research. Your voices were silenced for so many years. That was a significant wrong.”
“This report is an important first step towards a full understanding of what happened to thousands of women and their children in our recent past.”
“It helps is to reflect upon and recognise how poorly they were treated, often in ways that lacked even a basic level of compassion and kindness.”
“…they have been told of the Executive’s decision today to a victim-centred independent investigation into these historical institutions.”
“This will be co-designed with victims and survivors and will give them the opportunity to influence the aim of the investigation, how it should be conducted, how it should be conducted, who should participate in, who should chair it and how long it should take.”
“It is with huge regret that we acknowledge the pain of those experiences and the hurt caused to women and girls who did nothing more than be pregnant outside of marriage, some of them criminally against their will.”
“…I also have hope that this will be the beginning of a healing journey for the thousands of people who were harmed by their experience in the institutions, both at the time and through their life time.”
The report’s key findings:
It describes as a “conservative estimate” that over 10,500 women and girls entered the institutions between 1922 and 1990
The majority of them were from NI (86%), with the remainder from the Republic of Ireland and Great BritainAbout a third of those admitted were under the age of 19, with the youngest child to be admitted aged 12
A number were the victims of sexual crime, including rape and incest
Living conditions and care for residents were recorded in little detail but personal testimonies revealed “strenuous physical labour” being expected of them late into their pregnancies
It is “indisputable” that there was “considerable movement” of babies from some of the homes in NI to the Republic of Ireland.
Today marks a major milestone for many survivors of abuse in Mother & Baby homes & Magdalene Laundries with the publication of this harrowing report.
Today is the start of the final length of a long road to justice – & be assured, your wishes will guide me & I will walk with you pic.twitter.com/8xx4eCqAAV
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) January 26, 2021
Thanks Breeda and Eunan