State argues “difference of point of view” on a report on mother and baby homes

Many points raised in the Court of Appeal cases taken by two former residents of mothers and baby homes relate to a “difference of point of view” on the findings of the Commission of Inquiry and do not raise questions of fair procedure, a State adviser said.

Eoin McCullough SC, representing the State parties, said many of the candidates ’proposals are based on disagreements on the substance, and sometimes the conclusions, of the final report into mothers and nursing homes.

As the commission was dissolved, Philomena Lee, now in her 80s and living in England, and Galway-based Mary Harney bring her challenges against the Minister for Children, the Government, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Mr McCullough said there were points in Mrs Lee’s case that did not conflict with the commission’s report when “read fairly as a whole”. Ms Lee’s submission that “it is not good enough” to blame the treatment of women in the homes on the social morality of the time is a “simple difference of point of view” between her and the report’s findings.

He said the commission was tasked with considering vast amounts of evidence to “reach its own conclusions”.

Judge Garrett Simons heard two lead cases that address a key claim in nine separate but similar acts regarding the scope of section 34 of the Commission of Inquiry Act 2004.

Both women say they are easily identifiable in the final report, despite not being named, prompting a request, under section 34 of the Act, for the commission to provide them with the draft report so that they can make submissions on it, including the treatment. of their proofs.

They are looking to cancel some parts of the report.

The State denies the claims and points to the independence of the commission and the scale and complexity of the materials it had to consider.

Mr McCullough said there was no conflict between Mrs Lee’s testimony and what the report said at all about women’s understanding of the adoption process.

Ms Lee, who was sent to Seán Ross ’home in Co Tipperary after 18 years of pregnancy, disputed the results of the report of pain in childbirth, which she said were deliberately withheld by the nuns. Mr McCullough said the report found that pain relief was often not given to women in the homes or in public hospitals at the time. Submissions that the women were told during childbirth that they would have to “suffer for their sins” were in fact contained in the report, he said.

Mr McCullough said Ms Harney’s objection to the treatment of the report of the experiences of people who had been removed concerned a “difference of emphasis” rather than a breach of fair procedure. Mrs. Harney (72) was born in the Bessborough mother and baby home of Cork and was embarked between 1951 and 1954.

Earlier, Michael Lynn SC, for the candidates, said Ms Harney is concerned that some of her evidence was “not recorded fairly” and an important aspect was “completely missing” from the report.

Mr Lynn said “many” findings in the commission’s report “contradict” the testimony she presented. The commission painted an “incomplete, inaccurate picture” of what happened during Ms. Lee’s time at home, a councilor said.

Mr McCullough said a finding in favor of the candidates on section 34 of the 2004 Act would have “dramatic consequences” for the conduct of investigations. He claimed that it was the intention of the Act that temporary copies should be sent only to people against whom allegations are made or whose good name is at risk, which, he said, would not include the candidates.

If the candidates ’interpretation is correct, the commission would be forced to send excerpts to“ many thousands of people, ”he said. He also argued that the intended threshold of identifiability was not met.

On Thursday, Mr Lynn said the claim that disagreement on substance and breach of fair procedures were mutually exclusive was “fundamentally flawed”. These two issues are “necessarily interdependent,” because without a disagreement on substance it makes no sense to defend a violation of fair procedures, he said.

Mr Lynn said the “life-defining” adoption of Mrs Lee’s son had been distorted by the State party, and the notion that she agreed to it was a “fundamental mistake”. Further, he said it amounts to “an attack on a good name because it goes against her evidence”.

Mr. Justice Simons will make his judgment on December 9th.

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