Survivors of mother and baby homes call for establishment of all-Ireland body to help reunite families
Survivors of mother and baby homes where children were forcibly put up for adoption have called for the establishment of an all-Ireland body to help reunite families.
A campaign group of mothers and adults born in the homes is seeking support from the authorities across the north and south of Ireland to help them find redress.
The group - Birth Mothers And Their Children for Justice NI - warned that mothers and children are continuing to die before getting the chance to meet.
Eunan Duffy, who was born in the Marian Vale mother and baby home in Newry before being taken from his mother against her will and placed for adoption, said the current system for family tracing needs to be overhauled.
"Only one part-time person currently exists that traces family for two charities and the health and social care trusts (in Northern Ireland).
"This has led to a six or seven months waiting list for those wishing to trace. This is soul-destroying and unhelpful as relatives race against time to find loved ones," said Mr Duffy.
The 49-year-old only discovered he was adopted last year and managed to trace his birth mother who he now has a close relationship with.
He said it is vital that a dedicated statutory body tasked with family tracing and reunion is established as a matter of urgency.
Mr Duffy said there must be a legal compulsion for all State, religious and related bodies to release all records, files and documents pertaining to the entrance and exit pathways.
As many children were adopted into families across the Irish border, the establishment of a North/South co-operational body is vital, he added.
"The abuses, ramifications and consequences of what happened are ongoing. The suffering is everlasting. Children and their mothers were cruelly separated and denied a relationship," said Mr Duffy.
"Women and adopted children have died and are dying, both physically and mentally, as backs are turned and heads buried in the sand.
"This has to change. There has to be an immediate, fully independent and comprehensive public inquiry or commission to fulfil the needs and demands of those affected."
The group has written to a number of local authorities across Northern Ireland seeking support for its campaign.
It would like to hear from anyone across Ireland and the UK who may have been affected by one of the mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland. The group can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Mr Duffy on 07718645924.