Minister Reilly announces the establishment of the Commission of Investigation into
Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters
Thursday 19th February, 2015
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly TD, today announced that he has appointed three Commissioners to lead the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters. The Minister confirmed the appointment of Judge Yvonne Murphy as Commission Chairperson, with international legal expert on child protection and adoption Dr William Duncan, and historian Professor Mary E. Daly, appointed as Commissioners.
The Minister reiterated his appreciation to the three Commissioners for agreeing to take on this important investigation. “Their wealth of experience and knowledge will be critical to a successful examination of these complex matters with all possible thoroughness, sensitivity and speed.”
The establishment of the independent Commission comes following months of preparation and the recent approval by both Houses of the Oireachtas of the draft Order and Statement of Reasons for the establishment of the Commission. The Government Order to establish the Commission was signed by the Taoiseach at Tuesday’s Government meeting. The Government is confident that this comprehensive investigation, with the significant powers afforded under legislation, provides an effective and transparent mechanism to examine these complex and sensitive matters while also respecting fair procedures and natural justice.
Speaking today the Minister said “this is a significant moment as the Commission can now start the process to ensure that what was once hidden and covered up in these Homes, and in wider society, can be revealed and openly acknowledged. This investigation is an opportunity for Irish society to address the often harrowing manner in which vulnerable women and children were treated in mother and baby homes, how they came to be there in the first place and the circumstances of their departure from the homes.”
The Minister encouraged all those with personal experiences or information relevant to the investigation to engage with the Commission’s work. “The Commission will allow the experiences of individuals to be heard and understood as part of how Irish society failed in its response to single women and their children when they most needed our support and assistance, and not judgement.”
The Commission, which is located at No 73, Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2, will shortly announce details of how members of the public will be able to contact the Commission or make submissions to inform the Commission’s work.
Notes to Editors:
The Commission is established by Order under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.
The Terms of Reference for the investigation are included as a Schedule to S.I. no 57 of 2015.
The investigation will cover the period 1922-1998 – over three quarters of a century.
The Commission’s powers under Section 16 of the Act include the power to direct witnesses to answer questions and produce documents. These powers are to ensure that no information is withheld.
The timeframe for the completion of the work of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters is three years.
As part of the Commission’s methodology, the Terms of Reference specify that the Commission will undertake a Social History Module to establish an objective and comprehensive historical analysis of significant matters. The Commission will report to the Minister on the Social History Module within 18 months.
The Commission will also be required to provide a mechanism to allow individuals to describe their experiences of living or working in mother and baby homes. The work of this Confidential Committee will also reported on in 18 months.