One Family Welcomes Terms of Reference of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes

Press Release

One Family Welcomes Terms of Reference of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes

One Family welcomes today’s publication of the terms of reference of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes as established by Minister for Children James Reilly.

One Family CEO Karen Kiernan explained: “We are pleased to say that the terms of reference have listened to recommendations by One Family and many organisations whose members have been directly affected by Mother & Baby homes and the prevailing culture of the time. The importance of the Confidential Committee to hear the voices of those directly affected by the homes is critical.

“Of great importance also is the fact that there is an awareness of the social context which contributed to widespread discriminatory treatment of non-marital families and mothers,” Karen continued. “One Family believes that this prejudice still exists today and Irish society will benefit hugely from a reflection on attitudes to non-marital and one-parent families.”

One Family was founded as Cherish by a small group of unmarried mothers in 1972 who, against prevailing practice, decided that they wanted to keep their babies and raise them themselves. The founders tell numerous stories of their difficult personal experiences in doing this, as well as those of the many women who turned up at their homes, at group meetings, or here to the offices at 2 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin desperate for help because they were pregnant and not married which in countless cases had cost them their family relationships, jobs and homes.

One Family’s Chairperson, John O’Connell, who was himself born in Bessborough Home and returned with his mother to her family at the age of six months, comments: “Unfortunately we are aware that secrecy and shame can still surround many women whose children were adopted from mother and baby homes. As a society we need to give a clear and strong message that this secrecy and shame was and is wrong. There are still opportunities for adopted family members to be reunited, for children and parents who lived in mother and baby homes to be heard and acknowledged, and for Irish society to finally learn these lessons and treat all children and families equally.”

Lone parents and their family members affected by the recent harrowing reports may wish to call One Family’s lo-call askonefamily helpline for support on 1890 66 22 12.


About One Family

One Family was founded in 1972 as Cherish and is Ireland’s leading organisation for one-parent families offering support, information and services to all members of all one-parent families, to those sharing parenting, to those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and to professionals working with one-parent families. Children are at the centre of One Family’s work and the organisation helps all the adults in their lives, including mums, dads, grandparents, step-parents, new partners and other siblings, offering a holistic model of specialist family support services. These services include the lo-call askonefamily national helpline on 1890 62 22 12, counselling, and provision of training courses for parents and for professionals. One Family also promotes Family Day and presents the Family Day Festival every May, an annual celebration of the diversity of families in Ireland today ( For further information, visit

More information on the history of One Family is here.

Available for Interview

Karen Kiernan, CEO | t: 01 662 9212 or 086 850 9191



Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Terms of Reference of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs advised today that those wishing to make a submission regarding the Terms of Reference of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes should, in order to adhere to the tight timeframe agreed, lodge their submissions no later than 12.00 pm on Monday 30 June 2014.

One Family has made its submission which can be read/downloaded here: One Family Terms of Reference for Commission of Investigation into Mother & Baby Homes

Minister Flanagan stated today:

“Following the Government decision to establish a Commission of Investigation, there have been calls for the inclusion of a range of other institutions and concerns and these will be given consideration as part of the process underway.

“I am pleased to have an opportunity to meet with a number of advocacy groups as well as the Opposition spokespersons this week. Any submissions made to me during these consultative meetings, which are ongoing, will be fed into the process.

“I am working on an inclusive basis on this important initiative and I wish to see an effective Commission in place which will address these important matters on a sensitive and timely basis.”

The dedicated email address which facilitates submissions regarding the terms of reference of the Commission of Investigation is Further information is available here.

Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data (‘Clann’), a joint initiative by Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and JFM Research (JFMR), aims to assist those who wish to give evidence to the Commission by arranging free legal assistance for individuals to make full written statements. Further information is available here.



Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland