Rights of nine mother and baby home survivors breached over report, State says

The State has acknowledged in the High Court that the rights of nine former residents of mother and baby homes were breached by the failure to provide them with a draft copy of the report by the Commission of Investigation into the homes prior to is publication.

The court had heard the actions of Philomena Lee and Mary Harney, who were chosen as test cases to address a core claim in nine similar actions.

The State has consented to a court declaration that the Commission breached its statutory duty under section 34 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, by failing to provide each of the applicants, who are identifiable in the report, with a draft before the final report was submitted to the Minister for Children.

An acknowledgement by the Minister that each of the women do not accept sections of the report serve as “true and full reflection” of the evidence given will be published alongside the report online and in the Oireachtas library.

Michael Lynn SC, for the women, told the court on Friday that the State was also agreeing to pay the women’s legal fees.

The court had been due to hear further submissions from both parties before the court was to give its judgment. Mr Justice Garrett Simons said it was always more satisfactory when agreement could be reached between parties. He noted that the case had raised “very important and very significant issues”.

Both Ms Lee and Ms Harney had claimed in their actions that they were readily identifiable within the final report, despite not being named, and they submitted this triggered a requirement under section 34 for them to be provided with a draft copy of the report so they could make submissions on it, including the treatment of their evidence.

As the commission has been dissolved, the challenges were brought against the Minister for Children, the Government, Ireland and the Attorney General, who had initially denied their claims.

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