First Mothers Lays Formal Genocide Charges Against Irish State

By Kathy McMahon 
4th April, 2017Following correspondence to our group from the Irish Attorney General, Irish First Mothers has today ​replied to the AG laying ​​formal charges of genocide against the Irish State on behalf of around 70 mothers formerly resident in Mother and Baby homes.

We have also written requesting the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to engage with Ireland on this issue, on an informal and voluntary basis.

Our claim under Ireland's International  Criminal Court Act of 2006, alleges crimes of genocide and failure to prevent genocide by the Irish State in respect of its historical treatment of unmarried mothers. Specifically we assert that our sequestration in State-sanctioned religious homes and the subsequent coercive adoption of our children violated two signature genocide criteria enshrined in Irish law: grievous mental harm and forced transfer of children.

In support of our claim to the Attorney General,  we cited public comments by former judge of the Irish Supreme Court, Catherine McGuinness about the historical defect of real choice afforded to mothers to keep their infants. Judge McGuinness had commented from her direct experience as a former member of the official Irish Adoption Board: "they really hadn't a great deal of choice....  they were, shall we say, 'encouraged' to place their children for adoption". [Ray Darcy Show Audio]

Compounding a structural denial of choice, we assert that mothers suffering diminished capacity to consent as a result of incarceration and infant loss trauma, were dragooned regardless into signing away their parental rights under systematically coercive adoption procedures.

Our genocide claim also cited public comments by former Irish Minister for Justice, Paddy Cooney who addressed the seminal Irish Adoption Workers Conference, saying: "I think that we are all agreed that the consensus opinion in our society is to the effect that adoption is better for the illegitimate baby than to be cared for by its mother".

We assert that Mr. Cooney's comments in the setting of the first State adoption conference in 1974 indicates State bias to dispense with our consent in pursuit of fundamentally genocidal aims. In the eyes of genocidal perpetrators, we were an outcast sect of Christianity, dubbed "fallen women" and undeserving of human rights.

We demanded that the Attorney General now affords our claim its due process of justice under domestic genocide law. It is our position that our genocide claim is simply a legally novel perspective on a body of already well-established facts. The systemic structure of these practices are already matters of public and academic record or subject of prior State legal inquiry reports.

Therefore, we seek that the State should forthwith admit prosecution of itself -and only contest its guilt in regard conspiracy to commit genocide in collaboration with Irish religious institutions. We ask also for prosecution of other bodies; of departments of government; and of sundry individuals who were key architects of these genocidal policies. Determining whom to prosecute would be a matter for the judgement of the Prosecutor.

In Irish law, genocide is not subject to being statute-barred by reason of elapsed time s
ince the alleged crimes. Nevertheless our case is confined to mothers only because our genocide claim derives from the perpetrators definitively religious characterization of our motherhood. At this time we have not communicated with the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions office, because we are affording the State time to consider these novel legal matters. 

We will not ask the ICC to prosecute these issues. We seek only a domestic prosecutor. However we have urged the Irish Attorney General and the President of the International Criminal CourtJudge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi to use the established ICC conduits of informal consultation to ensure that Ireland now follows best practice. We maintain that international genocide laws would be brought into disrepute if the Irish State fails to apply the same rigour in dealing with domestic allegations, as it would impose on external State parties to international genocide agreements.

Irish First mothers has in recent years been invited to consult in regard to these issues with two Ministers of Government; testified on invitation to a committee of the Irish parliament and on invitation to the Investigation Committee of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

Attorney General: +353 1 631 4000 or
UN Committee On Human Rights +41 22 917 9220 or
CoE Commissioner for Human Rights +33 3 88 41 34 21 or

“ the case of "domestic" genocides, these are generally committed by or with the complicity of Governments, with the bizarre consequence that the Governments would be required to prosecute themselves.”
Genocide as Social Practice re UN Whitaker Report on Genocide

“National authorities bear the primary responsibility, in the first instance, to investigate and prosecute those most responsible for the commission of mass crimes.”

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Report 2017
UN Committee On Human Rights Report 2014
Irish Human Rights Commission M&B Homes Report 2014
Irish State Covered-Up 2012 Tuam Baby Deaths Report



  1. Well done I am so proud of my dear Irish friends - sending you all the positive energy and Independent Regional Mothers (mayor Australian stakeholder for mothers) stand at your side all the way - loving hugs to you all


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