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Minister Zappone announces Selection Panel to oversee appointments to the

Collaborative Forum for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes

Tuesday 13th March, 2018

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone T.D. has today (13th March 2018) announced details of the Selection Panel to oversee appointments to the Collaborative Forum for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes.

The establishment of this inclusive Collaborative Forum is a direct response to the theme of “nothing about us without us” which emerged from the Minister’s consultations with former residents of these institutions and their advocates. This innovative approach will support, facilitate and empower former residents to actively contribute to decisions on matters of concern to them and their families.

Announcing the panel, the Minister said “the independent selection panel is essential to the successful commencement of this project. For this reason, suitably qualified persons and organisations from the areas of human rights promotion and protection, advocacy groups representing former residents, and academics with strong track records in relevant areas, were approached to assist in this process”.

The 6 members appointed to the panel are:
Ms Teresa Blake SC   Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
Ms Clodagh Malone    Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors
Ms Mari Steed             Adoption Rights Alliance (based in USA)
Mr Fintan Dunne         Irish First Mothers
Dr James Gallen         Dublin City University
Prof Patricia Lundy    Ulster University

“I want to thank each member of the panel for agreeing to take on this ambitious and challenging task.  Their individual and collective experience and knowledge will be invaluable when selecting the members to participate in an effective and representative Forum”
added the Minister.

The Selection Panel will finalise details of the selection process, including the format of a public information campaign, and then select Forum members from those persons who express an interest in participating. The panel will have access to the supports necessary to complete its work as soon as possible. To assist in this regard the Minister has asked Mr Jim Halley of 2Collaborate to lead and facilitate the process. Mr Halley is an internationally respected mediator and facilitator and he will continue in his role of facilitating the process of engagement with former residents. In addition, Mr Gerry Kearney, who has been appointed as Chair of the Forum, will also assist the panel in its work.

The Minister concluded by saying “I have tasked the panel with conducting an independent selection process having regard to the necessity for a balance and diversity of stakeholder perspectives and experiences in the membership of the Forum. The membership of the Forum must reflect its remit to support and engage with those who were resident for a time in these institutions and those with comparable experiences in the former County Homes”.
Further information on this process will be published in the national media and on the website of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs



·    Minister Zappone published a Charter for the Forum last December.  The Charter, which is available on the Department’s website, sets out the general functions of the Forum, provides a blueprint for its programme of work, and details key principles in the methodology and approach to be adopted in this important work.
·    The fundamental principle behind the Collaborative Forum is that those affected by a decision have the right to be centrally involved in the decision making process.
·    The Forum will consist of 20 representative members including the Chairperson appointed by the Minister.
·    In selecting members to the Forum, the Selection Panel will be obliged to have regard to relevant considerations to ensure a balance and diversity of stakeholder perspectives and experiences is achieved. The Panel will agree the criteria for selection and the arrangements for a public information campaign to seek expressions of interest from relevant persons.
·    Advertisements will be placed in the national media in the coming weeks inviting applications from interested parties.

Biographical details for members of the Selection Panel

Ms. Teresa Blake SC (Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission)
Teresa Blake is a Senior Counsel and member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. She has practised at the Bar since 1995 in child protection and welfare law, asylum and immigration law and education disability. Teresa is currently Chairperson of the Mental Health Tribunal. She has represented various organisations to the United Nations human rights monitoring committees, and has been a member of the executive of the Irish Refugee Council, the Immigrant Council of Ireland, SPIRASI, and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. Teresa’s first qualification was as a social worker.

Ms. Clodagh Malone (Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors)
Clodagh Malone is the founding member of Beyond Adoption Ireland, a Facebook group with nearly 1,200 members. Since 2010, she has helped adoptees search for information about their birth families. Beyond Adoption Ireland is a member of the Coalition for Mother and Baby Home Survivors Group. Clodagh is also the Chairperson of the St Patrick’s Group. She was born in St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home, Navan Road, Dublin in 1970. Clodagh was adopted after 10 weeks and in 1994 found her birth mother. Within the adoption community, she is known as a “search angel” in relation to her work in assisting adoptees in tracing information.

Ms. Mari Steed (Adoption Rights Alliance)
Mari Steed was born in Bessboro Mother and Baby Home in Cork.  She is the daughter of a Magdalene Laundry survivor and was adopted to America at eighteen months old. She serves as US Coordinator with Adoption Rights Alliance. In 2003, Mari co-founded Justice for Magdalenes, an advocacy organization which successfully campaigned for a State apology and restorative justice for survivors of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. She currently serves as the group’s Committee Director. In 2016, ARA and JFMR launched Clann Project, a comprehensive fact/testimony-gathering effort to shadow the current Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, and to provide those wishing to give sworn testimony to the Commission pro bono legal advice and support. She also serves as vice president on the executive committee of US adoptee rights organization, Bastard Nation.

Mr. Fintan Dunne (Irish First Mothers)
Fintan Dunne is a journalist and a former information technology pioneer with Apple. He has a long association with the Irish First Mothers group - a peer support and reform advocacy group representing the views of women who were resident in Mother and Baby Homes. He has conducted in-depth audio interviews with many mothers who were resident in Mother and Baby Homes, and continues to advocate for justice on their behalf. Previously, Mr Dunne founded Men’s Aid, which ran Ireland’s first male-specific suicide prevention radio campaign.

Dr. James Gallen (Dublin City University)
James Gallen is a lecturer in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University. His research interests include human rights, international law and transitional justice. His present research agenda and recent publications concern transitional justice and jus post bellum (justice after war). He has a particular interest in transitional justice approaches to historical abuse in consolidated democracies, especially child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. In 2017 he was appointed as an Expert Advisor by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to advise on a transitional justice approach to the issue of Mother and Baby Homes.

Professor Patricia Lundy (Ulster University)
Patricia Lundy is Professor of Sociology at Ulster University.  Her research interests include transitional justice, politics of memory, and dealing with the historical legacy of human rights abuse. Her international reputation as a leading authority in the field of historical inquiries is well established. She is a human rights activist and committed to participatory approaches which ensure that survivors needs drive the form that remedies take.  Her current research project is a study of the NI Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) and survivor experiences of the Inquiry process. 

Mr. Jim Halley (Facilitator)
Jim Halley is the founder/director of 2Collaborate, which is regarded as a leading provider of facilitated consultations and mediation services in Ireland. As well as holding an Advanced Diploma in Mediation, he is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators (CIArb) and the International Mediators Institute (IMI). The majority of his work takes place in Public, Civil and Health Services environments. He is a Member of the Irish Management Institute and is an associate member of the Institute of Public Administration. Jim has been commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to facilitate the selection process and to assist the Selection Panel and Forum in their work.

Mr. Gerry Kearney (Chair of the Collaborative Forum)
Gerry previously served as Secretary General (SG) in the Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.  He has subsequently served as Chair of the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee, the National Concert Hall, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and the DCU incorporation process. He has also chaired the Moore Street Consultative Group. He was appointed as Chair of the Collaborative Forum for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in February 2018.