Mother and Baby Home Survivors Seek Recognition in High Court Case on Commission of Investigation Report

Commission Appears as Amicus Curiae in Philomena Lee and Mary Harney Cases

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘IHREC’) has appeared before the High Court as amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) in two lead cases challenging aspects of the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

IHREC has today published its legal arguments in the cases of Philomena Lee and Mary Harney v. the Minister of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. The cases focus on the requirements of sections 34 and 35 of the Commission of Investigation Act 2004. In taking their cases Mary Harney and Philomena Lee argue that they are identifiable in the Final Report, despite not being named, and accordingly they should have been provided with the relevant extracts of the draft report and had the opportunity to make submissions before it was finalised.

In its legal submissions to the High Court, IHREC sets out that “many victims have waited a long time for an opportunity to give their account of what happened in asserting their right to truth, dignity and redress; it is submitted that ensuring such persons have a right of reply in accordance with sections 34 and 35 of the 2004 Act in respect of any parts of the report from which they are identifiable is an essential safeguard.”

Over the past number of years, IHREC has been actively engaged on the rights of victims of historic abuse and it has made a number of submissions to various national and international bodies, including recently to an Oireachtas Joint Committee and various United Nations Human Rights Committees, in the context of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters.

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

“At the heart of these cases taken by Philomena Lee and Mary Harney is the right to be heard, the right to respect for their dignity, the right to participation and the right to an effective remedy.

“IHREC has used our legal function to join these cases in light of the significant human rights issues arising.

“What this case focuses on is the process around the Commission of Investigation and its Final Report. The outcome of these cases may have implications for other survivors of historic abuse. Commissions of Investigation are a crucial component in the broader picture of transitional justice and how the State can improve its response to both historical and contemporary breaches of rights.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note 

The written submissions made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission are available at the following link:

Amicus Submissions in Harney and Lee Cases related to Mother and Baby Homes

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

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.

 

 

 

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