Anne Ferris during a previous Dáíl debate Oireachtas TV
Unmarried Mothers

'Deeply wrong': Labour TD abstains from vote on mother and baby homes inquiry

Labour TD Anne Ferris abstained from the vote criticising the lack of objectivity of the investigation.

Updated 9.15am 

THE MOTHER AND BABY homes inquiry will exclude thousands of unmarried women and girls who were victims of human rights violations, according to the Adoption Rights Alliance.

The Government has selected 14 individual institutions for the commission to investigate and the alliance claims an estimated two-thirds of victims will be potentially excluded from the scope of the investigation.

It says the true number of forced and illegal adoptions will be hidden. It also claims the role the state played will be concealed as well as the role of professional elites.

During the second Dáil debate on the terms of reference for the inquiry last night many TDs called for the experience of all unmarried women and their children to be included in the terms of reference.


Labour TD Anne Ferris abstained from the vote, criticising the lack of objectivity of the investigation.

Ferris spent her first days in a mother and baby home and also explained how she had “her little girl taken from me”.

The Wicklow deputy is unhappy with the terms of reference and was said to have been considering voting against the government until Children’s Minister James Reilly allayed some, but not all, of her concerns.

She will not face sanction from Labour despite missing last night’s vote with Tánaiste Joan Burton saying she respected the views of her “trusted” party colleague.

Ferris told the Dáil last night: ”There’s no guarantee that a former child resident of an orphanage, or a mother who worked in a laundry under threat of hunger and violence, without pay, will get the opportunity to tell their story to anyone.”

This is not only deeply wrong, it is shortsighted.

‘We will get it right’

In her contribution, Burton described the investigation as ‘another step in a process of blowing away the locked doors to hidden Ireland’.

Addressing the concerns that the terms of the inquiry don’t go far enough, Burton said:

“On this issue, we see it slightly differently, because while some institutions may not specifically be included in the terms of reference – such as Westbank – I have sought advice and am confident that there will still be scope for stories from those institutions to be heard.

A Confidential Committee will allow former residents to provide accounts of their experience in private. And anybody with anything of relevance to contribute can do so.

“It is important to get it right and I am determined that we will get it right.”

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

‘I never fought with her over toys’: Here is Anne Ferris’s moving Dáil speech about her sister

Read: Mother and baby home survivor: My son is in his 42nd year – I might never get to hug him

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