Over the past five months, 25 academics, led by Prof Aoife O’Donoghue (Durham) and Máiréad Enright (Birmingham University Law School) rewrote the Executive Summary of the Irish Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation Report.
The Rewrite was undertaken in solidarity with the women, girls and children who experienced serious human rights violations during their time in those institutions and in the years since as both parents and now adult children try to access basic information about themselves.
The authors took both a human rights and feminist approach to the rewrite. Using a methodology, long established at Durham Law School, feminist judgment writing, the Executive Summary is rewritten using law as was during the period under discussion and using facts also available to the original Commission. Taking such an approach requires an attention to language, trauma and an understanding of the gendered nature of law, particularly as regards to women, sex, pregnancy, parenthood and restrictions and impositions that are deemed natural for women but unacceptable elsewhere. The authors demonstrate that responsibility for serious violations of constitutional and human rights lies primarily with the Irish State and that this, and other conclusions, were available to the Commission.
During the writing processes we asked academics from law and other disciplines but especially survivor groups and their advocates to read our text. We incorporated these comments and each reflection made the document richer and better.
The rewrite is still in Draft as we are still taking feedback on the text. The draft Executive Summary is available here as is a link to the feedback form.