London Vigil (Silent Protest)
Thursday 3rd July
17 Grosvenor Place
Very disturbing allegations have emerged recently regarding excessively high infant mortality rates in mothers and childrens homes, like Tuam, which were run by religious organisations in Ireland in the past decades. Previous investigations by the Irish State into allegations of wrongdoing by religious organisations have been severely lacking, and have attracted strong criticism from International Organisations.
We are holding a vigil (a silent protest with candles, putting children's boots on railings etc) at the Irish Embassy in London to show our conviction that these shortcomings must not be present in the investigation being established.
Here is a link to our campaign group https://www.facebook.com/pages/Justice-for-800-Tuam-Babies/578489822271515
In our vigil, we call for the following:
(The Irish Government has partially addressed the first two points, but has not addressed the others)
-The investigation must be comprehensive, and must cover all similar institutions. The investigation should attempt to ascertain the location of other mass unmarked graves of children such as those at Tuam and Castlepollard.
- It is necessary to fully investigate allegations of drug-testing on children at these homes, and allegations that this was done in some locations without consent. Where a defence of consent is made, efforts should be made to discover whether any practices of obtaining consent from mothers utilised coercion or duress.
- The inquiry should also investigate claims by Paul Garrett, NUIG Professor, that a Catholic Organisation "Child Protection and Rescue Society of Ireland" ("CPRSI") forced women who had fled to Britain from Mother and Children Homes to return.
-The investigation should cover the extent to which the practice of forced removal of children from their mothers for adoption was widespread, and the investigating commission must be empowered to make suggestions regarding Adoption Legislation if it deems it necessary, in order that those forcibly separated may be reunited where there is a desire on both sides for this to happen.
-The strong criticism of the McAleese report into the Magdalene Laundries by the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) has given significant cause for concern. The Committee stated that the reports of survivors were not given sufficient account, and stated that the investigation was not sufficiently comprehensive. The Committee wrote, in its letter of 22 May 2013, that the investigation “lacked many elements of a prompt independent, and thorough investigation”. The Committee requested information as to whether a proper investigation would be established. Amnesty International has adopted a similar position.
It is submitted that in order for the Irish State to properly comply with its International Human Rights Obligations, further investigation of the Magdalene Laundries is necessary, as stated by UNCAT and Amnesty International, and given the relevance of the circumstances of the Magdalene Laundries to the Mother and Children Homes, the Magdalene Laundries should be included in the investigation being established so that a proper inquiry can be made in line with UNCAT’s recommendations. To not do so would make any investigation incomplete.
Further, survivor testimony must be considered to be of prime importance in the inquiry being established, otherwise the inquiry's ability to discharge its purpose would be significantly undermined.
- UNCAT in the same letter also heavily criticised the lack of criminal prosecutions by the Irish State in relation to the findings of child physical and sexual abuse in Institutions run by the Catholic Church which were outlined by the Ryan Report. As the Committee noted in the letter, ensuring prosecution is a key element in addressing past failings and providing better protection. However they note that at the time of their writing that though 14,038 victims of physical and sexual abuse had been awarded financial recompense, only one case had been prosecuted. This is unacceptable and projects the impression that one gains criminal immunity by virtue of membership in a religious organisation.
The current investigation which is being established should have the power to recommend that criminal investigations be instituted with regard to certain persons/ organisations/information for whom evidence has been found disclosing criminal acts. Irish Criminal Law, and Irish International Human Rights Obligations, do not countenance criminal wrongs going unpunished.
-It is necessary that any investigation have a strong independent international presence in order to ensure objectivity. It would be ideal if the investigation was directed by international experts. At the very least it is necessary that those directing the investigation be comprised partially of international experts
- Lastly, when the investigation into child physical and sexual abuse was being conducted, Judge Laffoy who formed part of the investigation felt compelled to resign as she felt that a review on costs done by the Government left the investigation unable to properly perform its duties. Given the importance of the investigation being established to the survivors of these homes, and the Irish State as a whole, similar issues must not encountered in the present investigation.
UN criticism of past inquires by the Irish State http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CAT/Shared%20Documents/IRL/INT_CAT_FUL_IRL_12936_E.pdf
Amnesty International Criticism of the Magdalene Inquiry http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/ireland-mother-and-baby-homes-investigation-robust-comprehensive-2014-06-19
Another area of concern has been the response of the Irish Media to recent events. Newspapers were slow to report on issues relating to Mother and Children Homes. The Irish Times, through Rosita Boland, even grossly misrepresented Catherine Corless’ views and falsely claimed that she had issued a retraction regarding Tuam, for which they have refused to apologise. Many Irish Media Outlets however have now begun to publish insightful and sensitive Articles on Irish Mother and Children Homes, and we call on them to continue to do so.
Here is an Article by Corless' family criticising misrepresentation of Catherine Corless' views by the Irish Timeshttp://kettleontherange.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/an-international-publicity-frenzy-and-my-mother/comment-page-1/