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Listen to Dr Maeve O Rourke discuss REDRESS on This Irish American Life, Irish Radio Network USA, December 2022. Listen to CRCFM interview with Katherine O'Donnell. Listen to Pat Kenny interview with Maeve O'Rourke.

Ireland's Institutions and Transitional Justice

Katherine O'Donnell (editor)
Maeve O'Rourke (editor)
James M. Smith (editor)
Paperback / Softback,
Publication date:
30th April 2022

Author Biography

Katherine O’Donnell is associate professor of the History of Ideas, UCD School of Philosophy. She is co-author of Ireland and the Magdalene Laundries: A Campaign for Justice (Bloomsbury/I.B.Tauris, 2021).

Maeve O’Rourke is assistant professor of human rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway and a barrister (England & Wales) and Attorney at Law (New York). She is co-author of Ireland and the Magdalene Laundries: A Campaign for Justice (Bloomsbury/I.B.Tauris, 2021).

James M. Smith is an associate professor in the English department and Irish Studies Program at Boston College. He is co-author of Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the Nation’s Architecture of Containment (Notre Dame UP, 2007).


How will Ireland redress its legacy of institutional abuse? What constitutes justice? What is Transitional Justice? How might democracy evolve if survivors' experiences and expertise were allowed to lead the response to a century of gender- and family separation-based abuses? REDRESS: Ireland's Institutions and Transitional Justice seeks the answers. This collection explores the ways in which Ireland – North and South – treats those who suffered in Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, County Homes, industrial and reformatory schools, and in a closed and secretive adoption system, over the last 100 years. The essays focus on the structures which perpetuated widespread and systematic abuses in the past and consider how political arrangements continue to exert power over survivors, adopted people and generations of relatives, as well as controlling the remains and memorialisation of the dead. As we mark the centenary of both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, REDRESS: Ireland's Institutions and Transitional Justice forensically examines the two states' so-called ‘redress' schemes and investigations, and the statements of apology that accompanied them. With diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives, this collection considers how a Transitional Justice-based, survivor-centred, approach might assist those personally affected, policy makers, the public, and academics to evaluate the complex ways in which both the Republic and Northern Ireland (and other states in a comparative context) have responded to their histories of institutionalisation and family separation. Importantly, the essays collected in REDRESS: Ireland's Institutions and Transitional Justice seek to offer avenues by which to redress this legacy of continuing harms.

The Editors are donating all royalties in the name of survivors and all those affected by Ireland's carceral institutions and family separation to the charity Empowering People in Care (EPIC).