Mother and baby homes report due to be published

Stormont’s leaders are facing calls to establish a public inquiry into the institutions.

Mother and baby homes report due to be published

A report into the operation of institutions for women and babies in Northern Ireland is to be published later.

The academic research on mother and baby homes and Magdalene Laundries was considered by Stormont ministers on Tuesday morning.

First Minister Arlene Foster is due to outline the findings to the Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

Mrs Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill met survivors remotely at Stormont to discuss the research report and next steps.

She tweeted: “It was a shameful chapter but now the silence is broken and their stories have rightfully begun to be told.”

Ms O’Neill earlier tweeted: “The publication of today’s research breaks the silence around what happened in Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries.

“What happened was so, so wrong. My thoughts today are with the survivors who deserve answers to their many questions.”

The region’s political leaders are already facing calls to establish a public inquiry into the institutions and those are likely to intensify after the release of the Stormont-commissioned research.

Amnesty International says there were more than a dozen mother and baby homes and Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in Northern Ireland, with the last one closing its doors as recently as 1990.

Some former residents of the homes, along with Amnesty, have been calling for a public inquiry since 2013.

A probe into similar institutions in the Irish Republic prompted an apology from Taoiseach Michael Martin.

Mother and baby homes report
A survivor of a mother and baby home in Newry has called for a public inquiry (Niall Carson/PA)

A woman who was sent to the Marianvale home in Newry after becoming pregnant at 17 described it as a “hellhole” and recounted a culture of shame and secrecy behind its doors.

She attributed depression, anxiety and physical symptoms she has suffered throughout her life to that experience and the forced secrecy around it.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said he believes the report will “shed new light on the appalling extent and vast scale of the suffering experienced by generations of women and girls in these institutions”.

Patrick Corrigan
Patrick Corrigan, of Amnesty International UK (Liam McBurney/PA)

“It’s time for ministers to listen to the survivors – both the women and girls forced into the homes and the children born there.”

An inter-departmental working group on mother and baby homes, Magdalene Laundries and historical clerical abuse was set up in 2016 to look into the homes, which operated between 1922 and 1999.

These institutions were run across the region by both the Catholic orders and Protestant clergy.

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