MARTIN McGuinness has been called on to establish a cross-border investigation into mother and baby homes.
Campaigners met with the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland this week to raise concerns that religious orders took children from unmarried mothers and trafficked them on both sides of the Irish border.
Susan Lohan, co-founder of Adoption Rights Alliance, said the issues ‘crossed sectarian lines and border lines’ as she called for Mr McGuinness to launch an investigation into homes run by religious orders in the North of Ireland.
Her comments came as Ireland’s Children’s Minister Charlie Flanagan requested submissions from the public on the scope of the Irish Government’s forthcoming inquiry into the institutions.
The Fine Gael TD said ministers were ‘anxious’ to set up a Commission of Investigation before the Dáil’s summer recess next month, with the terms of reference due to be decided next week.
“I am urging those who wish to make submissions to act without delay in availing of this opportunity to inform the considerations now underway,” he added.
Campaigners have claimed that thousands of women who passed through the homes fled to Britain.
Mr Flanagan has already confirmed that the investigation will go beyond the Tuam home where the mother and baby homes scandal was sparked at the discovery of 800 dead babies.
It will deal with other mother and baby homes, including the Protestant-run Bethany Home.
Meanwhile, Mr McGuinness raised hopes of a cross-border investigation by stating that Sinn Féin had identified nine potential homes that could be included in an inquiry.
Interested parties have been asked to submit their views on what the terms of reference for the Irish Government’s inquiry should be by emailing [email protected]
Mr Flanagan also announced a specialist counselling phone line for people in Ireland and Britain who have been affected by issues around the institutions.
The service, run by mental health charity Connect, can be reached on 00800 477 477 77 from Britain and on 1800 477 477 in Ireland.