Northern Ireland’s Truth Discovery Strategy Panel today published several recommendations in its report entitled "Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Workhouses in Northern Ireland - Truth, Acknowledgement and Accountability."

The primary recommendation in the report published today, October 5, is to establish an ‘Integrated Investigation’ by a non-statutory Independent Panel feeding into a statutory Public Inquiry.

According to the Report’s executive summary, the panel’s five core recommendations focus on: Adoption of Guiding Principles; Responsibilities of the Executive Office; An Integrated Truth Investigation; Access to Records; and Redress, Reparation, and Compensation

The full report can be viewed here, while the Executive Summary of the report can be viewed here.

The Truth Recovery Design Panel, appointed by the @niexecutive, today launched the Report entitled ‘Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Workhouses in Northern Ireland - Truth, Acknowledgement and Accountability’. Full detail here:

— Truth Recovery Strategy (@recovery_truth) October 5, 2021

Following all-party agreement in January 2021, the Northern Ireland Executive invited victims and survivors of Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Workhouses, to contribute to designing the framework for an independent investigation into the institutions where thousands of girls and women were held and forced into unpaid labour, with many forcibly separated from their babies, during the 20th Century. 

The Truth Recovery Design Panel was set up for this process and included the appointment of a Chair, Deirdre Mahon (a Director of Women and Children’s Services and the Executive Director of Social Work in Health and Social Care in NI), along with Dr. Maeve O’Rourke (Lecturer in Human Rights, NUI Galway), and Professor Phil Scraton (Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast).

Following a six-month period of extensive engagement and work by the Truth Recovery Panel, the full report entitled ‘Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Workhouses in Northern Ireland – Truth, Acknowledgement and Accountability' was launched today, October 5 at Stormont in Belfast.

Commenting at the launch of the Report, Chair of the Truth Recovery Design Panel, Deirdre Mahon, said: “For six months we have worked closely with victims-survivors and relatives who have shared their heartbreaking stories with us and we thank them for their dedicated and tireless pursuit of truth and justice.

"The Executive’s decision in January, on the Inter-Departmental Working Group’s advice, to decide to set up an investigation and involve victims-and survivors centrally in designing the investigation was a hugely positive step.

"Nevertheless, this decision has come too late for many, and it is essential that these recommendations are acted on without delay.”

Truth Recovery Design Panel member Professor Phil Scraton said: “The Executive required the Panel to recommend a framework of investigation—from the breadth and depth of testimonies we received, we propose an unprecedented process, integrating an Independent Panel and a statutory Public Inquiry, alongside access to personal records. We also make recommendations for redress and reparation.

"Lives and futures lost through the cruelty within these institutions cannot be recovered, but we must acknowledge the intergenerational pain and suffering inflicted on victims, survivors, and families. It is now time for that to be recognised and the full truth revealed.”

Dr. Maeve O’Rourke, Truth Recovery Design Panel member, said at the launch of the report: “The University of Ulster/Queen’s University Belfast academic research report preceding our work contains clear evidence of gross and systemic human rights abuses in the institutions and related adoption system, including arbitrary detention, degrading treatment, serious infringements of the right to respect for private and family life and discrimination.

"Victims and survivors continue to describe ongoing abuse, including the disappearance of family members and the denial of identity. It is essential that the human rights of victims, survivors, and relatives are at the heart of the forthcoming investigation. Human rights law also requires full access to records and urgent redress and reparation.”

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, and Health Minister Robin Swann today thanked the experts who made up the Truth Recovery Design Panel, and the victims and survivors who informed and helped shape the report by sharing their personal experiences and views.

Ministers meet with the Truth Recovery Panel to discuss their report on mother and baby institutions, Magdalene Laundries and workhouses: Truth, Acknowledgment and Accountability.

They thanked the expert panel and the victims and survivors who shared their experiences and views

— NI Executive (@niexecutive) October 5, 2021