Activists Breeda Murphy, Eunan Duffy and Frank Brehany have for many years been campaigning against personal and wider injustices created by the system that discriminated against women and their children predominantly born out of wedlock.
Following the recent publication of the Commission of Investigation’s Mother and Baby Home Report (published on 12 January 2021), Victims, Survivors and their Families have been outraged at the poor quality and content of the report. Those affected by this unjust system, hoped that the publication of this report would deliver the Transitional Justice that many have cried out for.
This report, like all previous Commissions/Inquiries and their Reports, produced throughout the island of Ireland, highlighted the appalling deficit in a framework and compliance with international human rights concerning the myriad issues within institutional crimes and abuses.
The fall-out from the Commission’s work has been substantial, raising many concerns about how the government seeks to deliver Transitional Justice or whether the consequences of this report will deliver a system of Commissions without end?
As a result for a call for evidence and opinion from Minister Roderic O’Gorman, about how to construct a redress scheme, Breeda, Eunan and Frank decided to create ‘The Separation, Appropriation & Loss Initiative’ (SALI) (An Scaradh, Toiliú agus Cailleadh Tionscnamh), and have produced their first joint report which has now been submitted and acknowledged by the Minister’s office.
The joint report lays out key aspects and minimums of Transitional Justice, with three key points of focus: Injustice | Recognition | Reparation.
Within the report they highlight the appalling deficit of Human Rights, committed not just by Church and State, but also by Charitable & other private organisations. These observations not only apply to the recently published Mother & Baby Home Report, but across all Commissions and Reports produced on this issue. The SALI Report endorses a robust human rights approach to all forms of redress.
The SALI report provides commentary on the following themes along with other areas of importance:
- Centenary Commemorations (including annual National, Local and Educational memorialisation)
- The Power of Words
- Enforced Disappearances
- Criminal Enquiries
- Access to Justice
- The Statute of Limitations
- Accountability & Responsibility
- The North/South Divide (including other cross/inter Jurisdictional divides)
- Identity, Forced & Illegal Adoptions
- The Medico-Social & Psychological Detriment & Ramifications
- Inter-generational legacy
- Lost Generations & Burial Sites, and
- The construction of a just Financial & Healthcare scheme
The report provide a comprehensive overview of how Transitional Justice should be constructed, thereby ending decades of failed outcomes from Investigations.
It is a report who’s declaratory statement presents a clear message: ‘Do no harm; do no further harm’!
“Bearing witness to injustice is both an enormous burden and a privilege. The burden explained in the role of doing everything I can to ensure a truthful narrative emerges; the privilege in standing in solidarity with some of Ireland’s most vulnerable citizens. Among them, members of my own family whose voices were negated or erased; many, sadly, never witnessing justice within their own lifetime”.
“Entities such as Church and State are combined to orchestrate their immense and overwhelming power to suppress even the bravest, some in the corridors of power”.
“It is almost twenty-two years since Mary Raftery in ‘States of Fear’ exposed the plight of survivors of abuse in residential school settings and in the intervening years, a focus on the Magdalene Women and Mothers and Children of Ireland’s Mother and Baby homes, revealed the strands that connected the institutions, with trafficking a regular feature. The injustices are numerous and successive Irish Governments have one thing in common where Survivors of institutional abuse are concerned; a spectacular failing to provide a pathway to Justice and ultimate accountability, thereby presenting an opportunity for closure.
“In the production of this report, I am indebted to both my colleagues Eunan and Frank whose contributions are considerable and who regularly provide inspiration and hope”.
“I am delighted to have co-authored this report with my activist colleagues. All too often, through the distant and recent past, we have been deceived, disappointed and left dejected by those in power. I believe that their strategies are designed to compound and prolong the pain suffered and to break our resolve through disdain, delay and dereliction of duty”
“It is my view that Victims and Survivors of every atrocity, in whatever country, of every era and every regime endure the same platitudes, tokenism, false dawns, empty promises and enough tea and sympathy to drown ourselves in”
“My experience, along with the experiences of many Victims and Survivors, leads unfortunately to many who do not trust the State, are suspicious of political patronage and find it difficult to believe any government. There are many who hold the view that in these circumstances, the State has become your watcher and not your guardian. Experience has taught me that this caution must be our defence mechanism until Government’s and Church’s, cease disingenuous words and actions and turn hope into realities. Such actions require mechanisms, deploying the roles of empowerment, consultation, participation and methodology, where all roads lead to Disclosure, Truth and Justice”
“The Power of Words is vital in this discourse: ‘Justice delayed is Justice denied’, ‘Deny until we die’, ‘Nothing about us, without us’, all represent the conflict of dialogue and are not abstract mantras with no justification. They represent the results of not just our experiences, but of the experience of poor treatment, leading to distrust, dismissal and disrespect of our rights. There is no question that language, or lack of, indoctrinates or delivers the sense of betrayal and a negligent attitude toward our loved ones. Victims and Survivors are left with an unsatisfied and justifiable hunger for Justice”
“I believe that this report addresses and demands that the State, Legislators, the Church and their influencers, acknowledge and empower the disenfranchised. There should be no more obfuscation, prevarication, procrastination, ‘persuasion’ or negotiation by those with power. I believe that the State should take action to seize records, from whatever source, and arrest and prosecute those with a case to answer, and end the apparent reality of a class of perpetrators, who appear to reside in unrepentant happiness and with inglorious impunity”
“In my quest to provide answers to my own family ‘secret’, I have noted the poor outcomes from previous Public Inquiries into the whole ‘Magdalen’ story. It is a deficit in politics and law, not forgetting of course the poor and inadequate responses from Religious Orders. Any requirement for Justice contains many uncomfortable demands and expectations, which is why there remains so much discontent after each and every Inquiry. The Irish government have failed on so many levels to address very clear breaches of Human Rights and of the very wide Public Interest and society’s concern in this matter. Their failure is I believe couched between a ‘legal claim tick-box’ mentality and an apparent inability or lack of understanding of what is required from any Transitional Justice scheme. I am honoured to have been able to work with Breeda & Eunan and I hope that this report creates the basis of a wider dialogue, on how to create a just Transitional Justice scheme, for the benefit of all the Victims, Survivors and their families. In this centennial year for the Irish State, it is perhaps time to give effect to the founding fathers’ dream of an equal and just State?”
Notes to editors:
The SALI report can be found here.
The following provides a brief bio on each of the SALI report Authors:
Breeda is committed to issues of Social Justice and in particular societal structure and how power is controlled to deny certain groups of people their rightful place in society. She has extensively researched the ‘Forgotten Irish’, those who left Irish shores and who supported those they had left behind. Over 6 years ago, she began working with the Survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and noted how government largely ignored Survivors valuable testimony. Breeda has worked with many on the island of Ireland, eager to ensure that the survivor narrative, speaking truth to power, rises above the din of conjecture in State commissioned publications. Breeda collaborates with many campaigners and activists and is also the PRO of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home Alliance.
Eunan is an Adoptee, Activist and Advocate. He was adopted from the Marianvale Mother & Baby/Magdalen Institution in Newry, County Down. He only became aware of his adoption circumstances in 2016; this life-changing revelation had a profound impact on Eunan and his family. He subsequently discovered that the Institution in question was renowned for a catalogue of Human Rights abuses and crimes. In seeking to establish his origins, identity and heritage, he discovered that the system is designed to obstruct and discourage the discovery of family roots and medical genesis. Eunan has assisted other families in their quest for identity whilst providing valuable commentary on State and Religious abdication of responsibilities. Eunan collaborates with and is befriended with many campaigners and activists, along with those affected in different parts of the world. Eunan also works with Civil Society Organisations.
Frank is a Consumer Campaigner and Media Commentator. For the last 11 years, he has been investigating his own family ‘secret’ and discovered that his Father had been born out of wedlock and that his Grandmother had been incarcerated for 42 years within the Magdalen Laundry system. Frank’s Father spent the first 5 years of his life within the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, being subsequently boarded out to a good family. Frank’s journey has provided much joy and many tears, but it is the striking irritation from religious orders and the inability of government to answer simple correspondence that presents another side to his investigations, that the establishment in Irish Society is fearful of answering to the injustices of the past. Frank considers that the the Children of the Scaradh are now coming home! Frank works collaboratively with many campaigners and activists in this ‘Magdalen’ story.
Media Interview Availability:
Breeda, Eunan & Frank are available for interview. Please contact Frank Brehany via firstname.lastname@example.org or via his Twitter handle: @ConsumerFrank, setting out your needs and requirements.