Clann Project


Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data (‘Clann’) is a joint initiative by Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and JFM Research (JFMR). The purpose of Clann is to help establish the truth of what happened to unmarried mothers and their children in 20th century Ireland.

  • As part of this process, Clann anonymised shared statements, and gathered documentary and archival materials, in order to make a public group report to (1) the Commission of Investigation, (2) the Irish Government, and (3) international human rights bodies.
  • Clann will also disseminate archival and contemporary documentary materials via this website.

As part of the Clann initiative, ARA and JFMR are working with Hogan Lovells, a global law firm which is provided pro bono (free) assistance to us in compiling statements, documentary materials and legal analysis.

The Clann project is led by Maeve O’Rourke and Claire McGettrick (hereafter ‘the Clann Project Team’), who have developed its policies and procedures in cooperation with Hogan Lovells since 2015. They have overall responsibility for the administration and coordination of the project. Where there are any changes to the Project Team, this document will be revised to reflect those changes.

JFMR and ARA are committed to ensuring that the confidentiality of witnesses is upheld and we therefore undertake to strictly adhere to our Ethical Protocols, which are available here.


  • Although the Commission of Investigation is beginning its work by focusing on 14 Mother and Baby Homes and 4 County Homes, at least 170 institutions, organisations, agencies and individuals were involved with unmarried mothers and their children in 20th century Ireland. The Commission has statutory powers to request a widening of its focus and ARA and JFMR believe that if a thorough and transparent investigation is to be made, the Commission will need to include all relevant bodies. ARA and JFMR have made submissions in this regard to the Commission and have supplied the Commission with details of the 170+ bodies. Clann aims to enable individuals who were affected by any of the 170+ institutions, organisations, agencies or individuals to contribute to the public record and is not limiting its assistance to the 18 institutions being investigated initially by the Commission. ARA and JFMR will continue to request that the Commission of Investigation takes a sufficiently comprehensive approach.
  • Although the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters will not pay for legal assistance, ARA and JFMR believe that it is crucial that those who wish to give evidence to the Commission of Investigation nonetheless have access to legal assistance, at no cost. The assistance of a lawyer will enable people to make a comprehensive statement, setting out all relevant matters, so that they are under less pressure on the day of giving ‘live evidence’ to the Commission (if they wish to meet the Commission in person), and so that they can still give evidence to the Commission even if they do not wish to do so in person. In addition, everyone who compiles a witness statement with Hogan Lovells’ assistance will retain a copy of their witness statement and will be free to use it for any other purpose.
  • ARA and JFMR believe that it is important for those affected by Ireland’s treatment of unmarried mothers and their children to give evidence collaboratively to the Commission of Investigation (which Clann will do by anonymising donated statements and analysing them alongside documentary materials). The benefit of a group submission, which draws on the evidence of many individuals, is that Clann will be able to highlight patterns of treatment, as each person’s experience may shed further light on another’s.
  • Finally, ARA and JFMR are concerned that the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related matters has no current plans to hold any public hearings or to allow public access (or access to those affected) to the documentary/archival evidence that it is considering. The Commission has statutory powers to conduct public hearings and Clann hopes that in the interest of accountability and transparency of procedure the Commission will allow for regular public hearings and allow public access to the non-sensitive documents it is viewing. ARA and JFMR have made submissions to the Commission in this regard.  Clann aims to provide public access to as much non-sensitive documentary evidence as possible, via the Clann website, in order to create public awareness of the Commission’s investigations and in the hope that this in turn will encourage members of the public to contribute documentary evidence to both the Commission and Clann.

The Clann Report can be downloaded here.