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Mother and Baby Homes: High Court challenges over Commission report may first move forward with test case

Eight women are taking legal challenges over the Mother and Baby Homes report.

Philomena Lee in 2014
Philomena Lee in 2014
Image: Niall Carson

LEGAL COUNSEL FOR women seeking judicial reviews of the Mother and Baby Homes report may first lead with a test case in the High Court.

Eight women are taking legal challenges with claims that their testimony was misrepresented in the report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and have taken issue with having not been given a right to reply before the publication of the report.

The cases were listed for mention this morning.

Counsel for the women said they wanted to put the matter back for two weeks while their side considered if it would lead with a test case.

A test case is one brought forward that would then set a precedent for future similar cases.

Counsel also said that there may be an issue of discovery (obtaining evidence from the other side) in one or two cases and that they would know better in two weeks if there were some cases ready to move ahead more quickly than others. 

The Commission of Investigation was dissolved in February, which means the women are taking cases against the Minister for Children, the Irish Government and the Attorney General.

Counsel for the State agreed to the adjournment and a new date was set for 13 July at 10.15 am.

Among the women taking cases – some of whom cannot be named – is survivor Philomena Lee, who is seeking to have particular findings of the Commission’s report quashed.

Legal documents submitted on her behalf in April stated that there are “numerous findings of the Commission in its final report which are at odds with the testimony of [Lee] provided on affidavit to the Commission”.

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Lee’s legal documents outlined that the Commission did not provide her with “a draft of the report or any relevant part of the draft report as required by section 34 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004″.

“If the Applicant had been provided with a draft copy of the Commission’s report as required by law, she would have had the opportunity to make submissions to the Commission seeking correction, clarification and expansion of the relevant portions of the report which affect her fundamental rights,” it said.

The government is due to argue that Lee and other women are not identifiable in the final report and that the Commission acted independently.

Contains reporting by Órla Ryan

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