Inter-Departmental Working Group Update – September 2019

The Inter-Departmental Working Group (IDWG) met on 3 September 2019.

Agenda / Topics discussed

Mother and Baby Homes / Magdalene Laundries Research Report

Peter McBride thanked the researchers for their work on the report and commented on the value of the oral testimonies contained therein. Professor Sean O’Connell, Queens University Belfast and Dr Leanne McCormick, Ulster University gave an overview of the research report findings and a group discussion followed.  The researchers responded to questions about aspects of the report, for example, routes of entry into the homes and laundries and adoption. 

The researchers were asked to draft an Executive Summary of the report.  Group members were asked to feed any final questions/comments to the researchers, who would aim to produce a final version of the report by late September. The Chair confirmed he was keen for the report to be published, subject to the need for Permanent Secretaries to agree publication in the absence of Ministers.  As soon as the IDWG has approved the report, the agreement of Permanent Secretaries would be sought.

Historical Clerical Child Abuse (HCCA) Research Terms of Reference (ToR)

The Executive Office advised the Terms of Reference been reconsidered and that the research would be framed as a scoping study to establish the extent of the issue; steps taken to address it and any gaps that remain.  The IDWG could then focus on these. 

The group noted the need to ensure the HCCA research was balanced in terms of both testimony and analysis and added that a lot of information already existed but needed to be pulled into a format that could be used to inform policy decisions going forward.  The group consensus was that existing material, should be used where possible and an analysis of the findings provided.  The Executive Office detailed the proposed timeline and budget for the research.  It was agreed that the Terms of Reference would be amended to reflect the discussions and circulated to members of the group.

IDWG Terms of Reference Review

The Executive Office confirmed that Section 5 of the IDWG Terms of Reference, in relation to Historical Clerical Child Abuse, would be amended to reflect changes to the approach to this area of work.  A revised draft would be issued to the group by correspondence.

Work Plan

The detail of the draft work plan was discussed and it was agreed that this would be further developed in advance of the next meeting.

Engagement /Communication Plan

Peter McBride provided details of the individuals / groups he had met to date:

  • Eunan Duffy, Independent Spokesperson for M&BH/ML V&S;
  • Paula Bradshaw, MLA;
  • Sean O’Connell, QUB;
  • Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International.

The group discussed engagement and publication of the Mother and Baby Homes / Magdalene Laundries research report:  It was agreed that a Communications Plan would be developed.  Peter McBride emphasised the need to engage with stakeholders to agree the communication process before the report would be published. 

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the IDWG will take place in November 2019, following the submission of comments on the research report.        

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