Taoiseach’s Mother and Baby Homes Apology Must Mark Start of Human Rights Compliant Redress and Restitution Process

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Says State’s Systemic Approach cannot be to Keep ‘Challenging and Chastening’ Those Who Suffered

 The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission believes that the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation Report, and actions stemming from it, must mark a pivotal and systemic change of approach by the State in how it approaches and treats survivors seeking justice and redress, for the abuse and trauma administered by the Irish State.

We set out in June 2014 in our recommendations to the Terms of Reference for the Commission of Investigation, that redress must be adequate, effective and comprehensive. It should require not only restitution and compensation but also rehabilitation, satisfaction (including the right to truth and a public apology), and guarantees of non-repetition.

Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Sinéad Gibney stated:

“The devastating human rights violations that took place in Mother and Baby Homes have had profound consequences in the lives of generations of Irish women and children. It is a permanent stain on our society that because of a State culture of challenging and chastening those who sought justice, that many survivors died without ever receiving the dignity and recognition they demanded and deserved.

“Today we pay respect to survivors, those who have died, those who choose to remain silent and those who have fought for recognition, including Catherine Corless. The testimony published within this report from survivors will open a further window on the despair, trauma and neglect suffered.

“While a formal apology is necessary and appropriate, the State will be measured not on its sombre words, but on its sincere actions to rectify the wrongs done. This includes actions regarding redress including and beyond the 18 institutions investigated, clarity on survivors’ rights of access to their personal data in the records of other investigations into historical abuse; and legislative measures to ensure that those who died in these institutions finally get dignity in death.

“Other victims, such as those impacted by the Louise O’Keeffe ruling have already received Taoiseach’s apologies, yet the State continues to impose barriers to justice and redress for the harms they have suffered.  We need to see a change not only to the political rhetoric but a systemic change in the State’s attitude and responsibility towards anyone who is a victim or survivor of State wrongdoing.”

The Commission has, in our role as Ireland’s National Human Rights Institution, consistently reported to the United Nations its independent concerns about the treatment of victims of historic abuses. This has included, most recently, written submissions to the UN Committee on the Prevention for Torture in January 2020 and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination  Against Women in August 2020.

The sensitivity and swiftness of the State response to this Report will be scrutinised across the country by survivors, their families and their advocates, and internationally at the UN and Council of Europe against Ireland’s human rights obligations.


For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson – Communications Manager

087 0697095 bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:


Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.