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Childrens teddy's and toys along with flowers sit at the 'Little Angels' memorial plot in the grounds of Bessborough House in Blackrock, Cork. Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Adoption Rights Alliance cautiously welcomes inquiry into mother and baby homes

The group also want assurances new legislation regarding adoption information and tracing be considered.

THE INQUIRY INTO mother and baby homes has been given a cautious welcome by the  Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA).

They have been long-time advocates for equal rights for those affected by Ireland’s forced adoption system.

Today they cautiously welcomes the minister’s announcement yesterday that a Commission of Investigation with statutory powers was to be set up to fully investigate all issues relevant to mother and baby homes, including but not limited to forced adoptions, illegal adoptions, child trafficking, mass graves, burial procedures, vaccine trials, overall care of the women and children and other issues.

Criminal charges

“We await a fuller definition of the Commission’s terms of reference, including with what statutory powers it will be invested, i.e. will it have full access to all privately- and State-held records, ability to criminally charge or prosecute individuals or agencies who create obstructions to accessing those records, or who may even have destroyed records? they said.

The group said they would expect findings to be brought against those found to be directly involved in the mistreatment of mothers and babies, for the non-reporting of deaths, and for presiding over a regime of forced adoptions.

We also regard it as essential that the oversight failure of several state players with regard to the homes and registered adoption agencies, such as Local Authorities, the Department of Health, the Adoption Authority of Ireland would be fully investigated and that recommendations for their fundamental reform would be made and implemented.

Susan Lohan, Co-founder of Adoption Rights Alliance said that given the age profile of the women who suffered at these homes, further delays in providing access to family records and advice on reunions could not be sustained.

‘Deny til we die’

She said that most adopted people and natural parents seeking information on one another have long believed that it had been the cynical intention of successive governments to “deny til we die” in an effort to avoid ever investigating mother and baby Homes.

The ARA said it was “essential” that there is a tight timeframe for the completion of the inquiry.

They also want regional counselling and information services to be established alongside the inquiry.

The ARA would also want assurances that comprehensive new legislation regarding adoption information and tracing be considered alongside the inquiry.

We are concerned that just hours after having made this announcement today that Minister Charlie Flanagan already appeared to be retreating into the old soundbites of ‘privacy and complex constitutional issues’.

Read: Bethany Home, where 222 children died, to be included in mother and baby home investigation>

Read: “Huge traffic” between Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes>

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