ACTIVE collaboration and the sharing of information and knowledge will be crucial in addressing the needs of mother and baby home survivors, the First Minister and deputy First Minister have said.
They were speaking following a meeting with Roderic O’Gorman, Irish Government Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. They discussed the report published by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes earlier this month.
Ministers were joined at the meeting by Judith Gillespie, Chair of the Executive’s Inter-Departmental Working Group on Mother and Baby Homes, Magdalene Laundries and Historical Clerical Child Abuse. The research into Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries commissioned by the group is intended to be published before the end of this month.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “We were deeply moved by the harrowing experiences of the women and children recounted in the Commission’s report. They were failed by those who should have cared for and protected them when they needed it most.
“The Commission’s report highlights a number of issues with a cross-border dimension. It is clear that babies were moved between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, in both directions, for the purpose of adoption. We discussed this issue with Minister O’Gorman today and highlighted the importance of sharing knowledge and information for the sake of the survivors of mother and baby homes and adopted people.
“We are expecting shortly a report on mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland, and we will work with survivors to ensure this hugely important and sensitive issue is dealt with in the right way.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The experiences of women and children in mother and baby homes were shocking and should never have happened.
“Countless lives were irreparably damaged through the cruel and demoralising treatment of the women and children who suffered in these homes. It is right that survivors have had the chance to share their stories, to have the grave wrongdoings perpetrated against them acknowledged, and to finally have them addressed.
“We must work in partnership across the island and do everything we can to ensure survivors get the truth and justice they deserve, and I welcome Minister O’Gorman’s willingness to work together in that regard.
“When we receive the report on mother and baby homes here, our shared priority will be to ensure that survivors' voices are placed front and centre of this process and we will work together with them and their representatives on the way forward.”