The site of the former Magdalene Laundry on Sean MacDermott Street in Ireland/Laura Hutton

A new initiative will provide free legal aid to women who lived in mother and baby homes in Ireland between 1922 and 1998. The legal help will assist women in drafting witness statements to give to a commission investigating how women and children were treated at the homes.

The project has been set up by Justice for Magdalenes Research and the Adoption Rights Alliance, RTE reports. Known as Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data, the project has been endorsed by Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton.

Those behind the project say it will ensure the commission conducts the most comprehensive investigation possible.The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters is investigating how unmarried mothers and their children were treated at 14 state-linked religious institutions.

The group says that legal assistance will ensure that women can still give evidence even if they do not wish to do so in person.

While the commission's work is focusing on the 14 homes, it will also  be gathering information on over 170 institutions and will compile a report based on the statements made by those affected.

For more information about Clann, go to the website