Case study: redressing Magdalene Laundries injustices

Since 2010, an extensive collaboration between the voluntary grassroots organisations ‘Justice for Magdalenes’ and ‘Adoption Rights Alliance’ and barristers, solicitors and law students across the UK and Ireland has been fighting for justice, challenging the decades of impunity and disregard for the serious institutional abuses in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, mother and baby Homes, and adoption system.

The legal work has been considerable, including 5,000 pages of primary evidence, a 150-page legal argument to the governmental inquiry, political and public advocacy, and communications with UN and COE human rights treaty bodies. 

This collaboration, consisting of thousands of pro bono hours contributed to achieving a State apology to Magdalene Laundries survivors, a €58 million redress scheme, and other measures of accountability. Advocacy for the full implementation of promised reparation measures has continued.

The Clann Project, supported by Hogan Lovells, assisted 164 survivors and adopted people affected by mother and baby homes and related institutions, submitting 82 full witness statements and a 150-page human rights law-based analysis of the evidence and the State’s responsibilities to those personally affected. This work has so far led to 8 judicial reviews with pro bono representation. The project contributed to the reversal of the Irish government’s decision in 2020 to ‘seal’ the entire archive of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission. Further work aims to ensure that the stories are heard and memorialised.

In this way, thousands of pro bono hours by lawyers in both Ireland and the UK has impacted not only within Ireland but the many survivors living outside of Ireland.