Commission of Investigation "Crock of $hit" re Mother and Baby Homes says activist Solicitor

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Commission of Investigation "Crock of $hit" re Mother and Baby Homes says activist Solicitor


Broadsheet.ie


Broadsheet on the Telly: Episode 75


Solicitor Kevin Higgins (audio) [19.30]:


Everybody is probably well aware the announcement of the Commission of Investigation on 3 March last year confirmed the existence of large amounts of human remains of children. Now that fact had been established the previous September, in 2016. And for whatever reason Minister Zappone sat on that for 6 months. And when the announcement was made, it was not in fact made by Minister Zappone, it was made through Judge Yvonne Murphy's office. So, it's questionable even now if the Commission hadn't taken the initiative, whether we would be even aware of the confirmed existence of the remains. However, we are.


The position is very simple, from my point of view, perhaps I am being a little simplistic about it. There are a very large number of human remains in a very small confined area. The only person, individual or office who has jurisdiction over that site is the local coroner. The local coroner to-date has not convened an inquest. In those circumstances where a coroner fails to act, the Attorney General of the day has sole discretion under S24 of the Coroner's Act 1961 to replace that coroner by another coroner and order an inquest. Now most people must be wondering why that hasn't been done. And everybody is free to speculate as to why that hasn't happened.


Presenter John 'Preposterous' Ryan asked Kevin if he could speculate.


Kevin Higgins:


I certainly can. And I would draw your attention to … but just let me point out two things to you. The Commission of Investigation has a very narrow remit. And that remit is further confined by the fact that it is restricted by a piece of legislation - the Commission of Investigation Act 2004. That was created by Mr Michael McDowelll when Minister for Justice, as a sort of cheap and cheerful replacement for the Tribunal's act, which everyone has said had been so costly.


Now not to be too dismissive, I regard that Act as a crock of $hit. Forgive my language, but that's what it is.

If you look at the […] Commission of Investigation, the McMahon Commission of Investigation, and O'Higgins Investigation, which ultimately had to lead to a tribunal anyway, you can see it's not a very effective mechanism for establishing the truth.


Now if you look at the provisions of the section of the 2004 Commission of Investigation Act, you will find it is designed to do anything but find the truth. And it specifically forbidsI [Latin expression] the use of any evidence given in public or private for use in any criminal investigation. So if a nun had gone into the Commission of Investigation in her zimmer-frame and said "I'm awfully sorry but in 1949 I picked up a child, swung it round by the legs, bashed its head off walls in the old workhouse, and died." She can not be prosecuted.

But I suppose it gives some indication of the usefulness of the Commission of Investigation Act.


Preposterous speaking:


"I suppose this is in the same context as the Truth and Reconciliation of South Africa, they admitted what had gone on..."


Kevin Higgins:


Yes, there is a similarity there. The difficulty we have is that the coroner is sitting on his hands; the Attorney General is sitting on his hands. And the Minister has been running round like a blue ar$ed fly having this consultational process quote "to decide the future of the site." The difficulty for me with that is that neither the Minister or the Cabinet have any statutory legislative authority to do anything with the site.
The prerogative remains with the coroner, whichever coroner it is. Essentially what you have is the State "flanneling" everybody and refusing to pursue their statutory obligations. Now if you had dug up the remains of a child in your back garden, going back an indeterminate number of years, the pathologist would be around there, the remains would have been taken away, an inquest would have been convened and a post mortem carried out.


Upwards 800 children in that site, and nobody has done anything.


"Oh Jesus!" (Vanessa flinches in shock). Preposterous: "Extraordinary."


Preposterous asks:


"Are these photographs of the tomb itself?"


Kevin Higgins:


Well one of the wonderful things about the Commission of Investigation procedure is that all evidence is in secret (technically "in Private"). All evidence gathered by the Commission is confidential. If you, John [Ryan], had been a [child] survivor of the home and had some residual memories and went to the Commission of Investigation and made a statement, which would have been recorded both by a stenographer, and an audio recording made… under the terms of the Act, they will not give you a copy of your own evidence. They refuse it. They have refused it. So, you can see this is a rather unsatisfactory process.


Preposterous:


[Preposterous prefaces his question to Higgins saying that he doesn't want to personalise this]

Prior to her appointment, I would have thought Katherine Zappone would have been a perfect appointment for the survivors, what has happened?


Kevin Higgins:


Well, is she a perfect choice, really? I have no idea why you would think this.


Preposterous answers:


It was lazy on my part because I was just thinking she could have been progressive… a woolly way… she wasn't very religious, particularly Catholic at all; would be more concerned about the welfare of these children and the legacy of how we bury these children, etc. No? [shakes head]


Kevin Higgins:


Well, I don't know. I look at it a little more...


Preposterous interrupts Kevin Higgins saying; "I could be wrong."


Kevin Higgins replies:


That would be a reasonable response, you are right. I am afraid that I don't look at it like that. I look at Katherine Zappone, who to me is a woman who has risen without trace. [Laughter from panel members] She is a governmental Minister in a patchwork government. The Doctor (sic) by which she is addressed, is a doctorate in Catholic theology from Boston Catholic University. Her forays into publishing going back 20 years outlines her 'a wannabe witch' and my experiences of witchcraft... So, I see her as a rather arch conservative figure.


Preposterous clarifies:


I sensed maybe it was a woman there who could perhaps be more empathetic to the survivors.


Preposterous throws it over to the panel [29:10]


Panel member [Accountant] Vanessa stated that she wants the UN to come in, 'exhume all bodies, all buried with their own names, date of birth and how they died.' ….


Kevin Higgins said there is no political will. ….


Kevin Higgins:


[33:22] A team was assembled at the initial investigation under Professor Niamh McCullagh and she had at her disposal a number of extremely fine experienced young archaeologists of the utmost integrity. They assembled a certain amount of detail, a small amount is in the public domain, but essentially that was under the remit of the Commission. The Commission has made it perfectly clear once they have discovered the site of a mass grave that was the end of their role. They have no role, their role was to investigate. It's now over to the coroner and the arms of the State.


What happened, thereafter, and I find this appalling was that Minister Zappone then appropriated to herself the members of that archeological team. Reconstituted them as the 'Expert Technical Group' and had them working for her. There is a clear conflict of interest here.


[34:37] I sat for six hours with two of those very _very _ fine archaeologists, in a room with survivors, where their only remit was as a party of consultants to the process [distorted] to explain to survivors how difficult it would be to carry out an exhumation. And when we asked them for actual details, they were obliged to say "I'm sorry, it was undertaken for the Commission and confidential on behalf and can't disclose it.


Preposterous says: That's extraordinary.


Kevin Higgins:


They have an agenda.


Preposterous: Did you get any leaks from the first assessment, first digs and whatnot?


Kevin Higgins:


Hundreds of Infants in the chambers [35:50]


I have a reasonable idea of what was found there, and the condition of it. Even if the bones were in a very disordered way, it was possible to make a judgment. Of the chambers they visited, the bones collectively certainly made up the remains of infants, certainly a three figure number.

Preposterous: Were the bones placed in rows or a bundle?


….



Listen to the audio on Broadsheet.ie for the full broadcast.


The broadcast is now on youtube.com





Broadsheet Ie

Streamed live on Jul 26, 2018

"From the people behind Broadsheet.ie, Broadsheet on the Telly is a two-hour late night alternative chat show featuring real people not pundits devouring the news from Ireland and 'abroad'."


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Anderson

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#7
Possibly somebody can explain how a large number of illegally buried skeletal remains are not being investigated by the Garda Siochana?
Maybe because they are complicit in this case?

The whole thing stinks to high heaven, it's quite amazing that this is appearing to be brushed under the carpet. if nobody is alive today to prosecute, I would still hold and prosecute the Catholic church as the principal body involved in this.
 
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Maybe because they are complicit in this case?

The whole thing stinks to high heaven, it's quite amazing that this is appearing to be brushed under the carpet. if nobody is alive today to prosecute, I would still hold and prosecute the Catholic church as the principal body involved in this.
My guess would be that there has been "Political Interference". Nobody in Politics wants to rock the boat.
 
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- The Washington Post

Pennsylvania Supreme Court approves release of 900-page grand jury report about Catholic clergy sex abuse



This may well lead to further charges being made against bishops who covered up abuse.
Things were always going to get rough once they could no longer rely on friends in the Judiciary and Government. All they can do these days is play for time. But there has been a long history within the USA of unhappiness with them being allowed to run a state within the state.
 
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#11
My core regular readers won't know to come to this site.


'Dublin City Council will reject a proposal to sell Sean McDermott Street Magdalene Laundry 2-Acre site to Japanese Hotel Chain'


A Site of Conscience


A Site of Conscience


By Cónal Thomas


Councillors have said they’ll reject a proposal to sell it to a Japanese hotel chain. Last week, newly elected Lord Mayor of Dublin Nial Ring said he will form a group to consult on it.

Deirdre Cadwell says those who survived the laundries, as she did, deserve a proper memorial, a museum. “They’re the ones who deserve it.”

Some suggest looking around the world – at memorials to slavery in Senegal and workhouses in England – for ideas on how to turn places with troubled and dark histories into sites of conscience …

Yay!



Gary Gannon Retweeted

Womenscouncilireland‏Verified account @NWCI

@maeveorourke of Dublin Honours Magdalenes urges everyone to support the establishment of a museum for Magdalenes at Sean McDermott site so we can learn about Ireland’s past of institutionalising women. #Day4Danielle @HonouringM


This all looks very promising.
 
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Things were always going to get rough once they could no longer rely on friends in the Judiciary and Government. All they can do these days is play for time. But there has been a long history within the USA of unhappiness with them being allowed to run a state within the state.

Something to do with being a republic?

For the people, by the people etc., not run for the church by a church. We've had this from the penal laws all the way up to the 1990s. The pingin has dropped.
 
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