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Reference group's preferences must inform next steps for victims of mother and baby homes, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said the work of the reference group on mother and baby homes and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland but now inform the next steps on delivering truth and justice for victims and survivors of the institutions.

The report of the group, following the research report commissioned by the Department of Health, is expected to be published later. It is estimated around 7,500 women and girls gave birth in the institutions, with the report looking at the period between 1922-1999.

“I suspect the work of the reference group will clarify there remains more questions than answers. This only re-emphasises the need to move forward with speed,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“The next steps must meet the needs of victims and survivors, whose involvement must be central to what happens next and for whom support must be put in place without delay. We must never forget the abuse, shame and stigma suffered by victims and survivors, which was often ongoing, was horrendous and brings shame to us all. There must be acknowledgement of crimes and oppression against women wherever and whenever it took place.

“Having spoken with victims and survivors, it is now evident their wait for truth, accountability, justice and recognition may be best met via a co-designed investigation, centred on victims, expertly facilitated within a legal framework. This would give victims and survivors clear agency in the process and make them central to the outcome. It could also proceed relatively swiftly.

“I pay tribute to the birth mothers and Children for Justice NI, and I hope they will now take some comfort they are finally being taken seriously and the end of their long wait for support and redress has now moved closer. However, there is much work still to be done.”