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'Fearless' Catherine Corless wins human rights award

Her research led to the discovery of human remains at the site of a former mother and baby home in Tuam.

Catherine Corless at the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam
Catherine Corless at the site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

THE BAR OF Ireland has presented its Human Rights Award to Catherine Corless for her work relating to the discovery of human remains at the site of a former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

In March of this year the Commission into Mother and Baby Homes confirmed that a “significant” number of human remains were discovered at the site of the former Bon Secours home. Scientific analysis put the age of death between 35 foetal weeks and two to three years.

The commission said the remains were discovered in a structure which appears to be “related to the treatment/containment of sewerage and/or wastewater”.

The tireless work of Corless, an amateur historian, led to the discovery.

The Bar of Ireland’s Human Rights Award is presented to a person or organisation who has shown exceptional humanitarian service. Last year it was awarded to the Irish Naval Service for their work on the migrant and refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

‘Incredible courage’ 

Paul McGarry SC, chair of the Council of the Bar of Ireland, said Corless has shown “incredible courage and determination in her advocacy work on behalf of the survivors”.

She has worked tirelessly on their behalf and has shone a light on a dark period of our history, passionately represented the victims and their rights at all times, often in the face of adversity.

Thomas Creed, SC, chair of the Bar of Ireland’s Human Rights Committee, said Corless is a “fearless campaigner for human rights and has done both the survivors and wider society a great service”.

Accepting the award, Corless said she was “truly honoured”.

My work campaigning on behalf of the survivors of mother and baby homes continues and I hope that this special award will give even more survivors the strength to come forward to tell their story.

“With each and every testimony the truth is uncovered further and our campaign for justice to prevail is strengthened. I share this award with the all survivors, this is for them,” Corless said.

Read: ‘I’m anxious that every bit of evidence gets out there, just in case it’s a carbon copy of Tuam’

Read: ‘Urgent action is needed’: Letters reveal shock at discovery of human remains at mother and baby home

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Órla Ryan

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