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Survivors want public inquiry into NI facilities


Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International

Survivors and their families have called for a public inquiry into abuses they say they suffered in Northern Ireland's mother and baby homes.

It comes after a report into mother and baby homes in the Republic of Ireland, where unmarried mothers and pregnant women were sent from the 1920s until as recently as the 1990s, was finally published yesterday after years of delays.

More than a dozen similar institutions operated in Northern Ireland, with the last one closing its doors in the 1990s.

Some 7,500 women and girls gave birth in the homes, operated by both Catholic and Protestant churches and religious organisations.

Former residents of the homes, alongside Amnesty International, have been calling for a Northern Ireland public inquiry since 2013, a request which they say has so far been refused by the Executive.

Mary O'Neill (not her real name) gave birth to a baby girl in 1979 while she was at Marianvale home in Newry, run by the Good Shepherd Sisters.

Aged just 18 at the time, she says her daughter was taken away for adoption against her will.

Two years ago after a long search, Ms O'Neill was finally reunited with her daughter, who moved to the USA 17 years ago.

Ms O'Neill said her time in Marianvale was "a living nightmare" and she is demanding "the truth be told now".

She is now taking legal action against the Executive over the failure to set up an inquiry.

"We experienced the same harsh regime as mothers and babies did in the Republic of Ireland, yet the Executive still refuses to set up a similar inquiry," Ms O'Neill said.

"We have been asking the Executive to set up an inquiry for years. And, for years, Ministers have brushed us aside. No more."

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland director, which is supporting calls for an inquiry, said: "In 2013, Amnesty submitted a paper to the Executive making the case for a public inquiry into abuses in these homes.

"Stormont has ignored victims' calls for an inquiry for years. The Executive must deliver a human rights compliant investigation into the allegations of systemic human rights abuses at these institutions, and give an apology and redress to those who suffered irreparable damage to their lives," he added.

Belfast Telegraph