In June 2016, Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) and Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) launched Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data (Clann) [http://www.clannproject.org], which is a joint initiative with global law firm, Hogan Lovells. Clann is assisting individuals affected by or involved with the treatment of unmarried mothers and their children to provide evidence to the ongoing Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters.
Clann has launched a number of short films, explaining the purpose of the project and how to participate. One of Clann’s short films features natural mother Philomena Lee and her daughter Jane Libberton. Philomena spent three and a half years with her son in the Sacred Heart home at Sean Ross Abbey before he was adopted to America. Philomena and Jane have strongly encouraged those affected by Ireland’s treatment of unmarried mothers and their children to give evidence to the Commission and to participate in the Clann project.
JFMR and ARA encourage those who may wish to meet with the Commission of Investigation’s Confidential Committee to do so as soon as possible, as the closing date for applications to meet the Confidential Committee is 1st March 2017. It is not clear from the Commission’s website whether there is a deadline for its Investigation Committee, however JFMR and ARA strongly encourage those who wish to meet with either committee to register their interest as soon as possible. Contact details for the Commission of Investigation are available in the Notes to Editors below. JFMR and ARA also wish to remind witnesses that if they wish, they may simply to send their statements to the Commission but not give ’live evidence’ in person. In this instance, the statement will need to be attached to an affidavit and sworn in front of a solicitor.
In association with Hogan Lovells, JFMR and ARA are offering free witness statement-drafting assistance through Clann to anyone, living anywhere in the world, who has experience of Ireland’s treatment of unmarried mothers and their children (including adult adopted people). The assistance is not limited to the list of 18 institutions initially being investigated by the Commission. Where witnesses are invited to meet the Commission’s Investigation Committee in person, Clann will also endeavour to obtain free legal representation for those individuals if they wish.
Witnesses may choose to share their statements with Clann, however this is entirely optional. Clann will anonymise shared statements and use extracts from them, alongside archival material, to make a public group report to the Commission of Investigation, the Irish Government, and international human rights bodies. The witness statement gathering process forms part of a larger project to create a permanent archive of the experiences of Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children via the Clann website. The Clann website will act as a resource for individuals affected by the issues and will be available to the wider public for ongoing education and research.
If witnesses have already given evidence to the Commission, they are still welcome to participate in the Clann project. Additional details may come to mind during the interview with Hogan Lovells and in this instance the witness may wish to send the statement into the Commission, to add to the evidence they have already submitted. They may also find it helpful to have a written statement for safe-keeping or future use, even if they have already been to the Commission of Investigation. In addition, if the witness consents to their statement being used by ARA and JFMR, their information could greatly assist the ARA and JFMR group submissions.
Notes to editors:
Clann Contact Details: email@example.com
Clann Information Pack: http://clannproject.org/wp-content/uploads/Clann-Information-Pack.zip
Clann Short Films:
- About the Project & How to Participate: https://youtu.be/YSHaL2i4aMw
- Philomena Lee and Jane Libberton: https://youtu.be/gUZRJC6ePDM
- Mari Steed: https://youtu.be/hVkHQclGK14
- Maeve O’Rourke, Clann Legal Advisor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQJHbvb–rs
- Rod Baker, Hogan Lovells: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWj25ZjGj6w
Commission of Investigation Contact Details:
- Address: 73 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2, D02 N773 or PO Box 12626, Dublin 2
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Confidential Freephone:
ROI only: 1800 80-66-88