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National Centre for Research and Remembrance - make sure your voice is heard



What is it?  


The Irish Government is currently developing plans for a National Centre of Research and Remembrance dedicated to all those who lived in Industrial Schools, Magdalen Laundries, Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions, Reformatories, and related institutions. The Government state that the Centre will be a ‘site of conscience to honour equally all those who spent time in… institutions.’ 

The Centre will be a place where personal testimonies of survivors can be recorded and preserved. This is an important step for many people. After being silenced by Institutions, societal pressure and stigma, the opportunity to tell their story and that of their trauma is vital for those who wish to contribute.  

The Centre will also be a place of education and reflection, where members of the public can come to learn more about the experiences of those who endured life in the institutions. 


Where is it? 


The National Centre is being developed on the site of a former Magdalen Laundry on Sean McDermott Street in north inner-city Dublin.  


The Irish Government has made a commitment to developing a ‘physical presence’ at local museums and libraries, as well examining the possibility of travelling exhibitions to widen the reach of the Centre to as many Survivors as possible. 


The National Centre will also have an online presence to allow people who cannot visit the Centre to access information and testimonies.  


What will it contain? 


The Centre will contain an exhibition space and museum, run by the National Museum of Ireland, telling the story of the institutions and of those who lived in them. This will be an important tool in commemorating the residents, as well as educating a new generation about residents’ experiences.  

 

There will be a garden of remembrance where former residents and family members can reflect on their experiences. Visitors may also wish to reflect on what they have learned from visiting the museum and hearing Survivor testimonies. 

There will also be a research centre and repository of records related to institutional trauma in the 20th century, as well as those that relate to individual Survivors. These records will form part of the National Archives.  


Orlaith McBride, Director of the National Archives states that the ‘Privacy rights of Survivors and their families in relation to their individual and personal records will be absolutely paramount.’ Staff assisting with accessing the records will be trained to deal with the impact of trauma. There will also be dedicated opening times for Survivors. 

 

The wider site will also contain: 


  • Educational facilities that will encourage lifelong learning 

  • Family and Parenting Support facilities 

  • 25 units of Social Housing  

 


Please note that this is a proposal and may be subject to change. 


Consultation recommendations:


After a consultation with Survivors, recommendations were made about how to develop the site. Chief among these was that Survivors be placed at the heart of the development of the Centre, including the design and content of exhibitions. 

It was recommended that Survivors stories form a central part of the Museum, taking into account different institutions and experiences. The Centre should also have a space for Survivors to come together, to access information and support.  

Sensitive treatment of records, a robust data protection policy and transparency were also deemed important, as well as a friendly and sensitive environment for accessing records. 




Have your say:


The history of institutionalisation is an important story that needs to be told in a dignified way, without shying away from the truth, and by incorporating the voice of Survivors. 


Consultation will be continuous and ongoing. In late Summer 2024, there will be in person consultations taking place in Ireland, and you can email nationalcentre@equality.gov.ie to take part.  


If you live in Britain and would like to have your voice heard in the development of the Centre, contact renewingroots@frea.org.uk or call on 07432 138682 (Patrick Rodgers) 07849 835841 (Natalie Hughes Crean) or 07732 901782 (Ciaran Connolly). 



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