Towards Transitional Justice

Recognition, Truth-telling, and Institutional Abuse in Ireland

November 1-2, 2018
Gasson Hall, 100
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

“Transitional Justice puts survivors and victims at the heart of the process.  It commits to pursuing justice through truth. It aims to achieve not only individual justice, but a wider societal transition from more repressive times, to move from one era to another. Taking a transitional justice approach means that we will find out and record the truth, ensure accountability, make reparation, undertake institutional reform, and achieve reconciliation.”  Katherine Zappone, T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dáil Éireann, Dublin. 9th March 2017

“Will the government consider a broader truth-telling process in respect to these and other historical abuses?” Ms. Felice Gaer, Deputy Chairperson, UN Committee Against Torture, Second Periodic Review of Ireland, Geneva, Switzerland. 28th July 2017


View from kitchen

*Photo Credit: Fiona Ward

ivy wall

*Photo Credit: Fiona Ward

This conference brings together scholars, survivors, and activists in the international field of Transitional Justice, with a specific focus on the Irish state’s response to the nation’s history of institutional abuse. Researchers, students and interested members of the public are welcome to attend.

Traditionally, transitional justice has been focused on moments of dramatic political transformation and transfers of power (i.e., regime change). It promises a more “holistic,” survivor/victim-focused, approach to historic injustice, in part because it combines the four key elements of justice, reparation, truth-telling, and guarantees of non-recurrence. More recently, scholars are considering the application of this approach to the institutional abuses of settled democracies.

Our conference pursues a twofold conversation: we will discuss the efficacy of a transitional justice approach to Ireland’s history of institutional abuse and consider the State’s response to this legacy. Privileging victim/survivor testimony, we will ask the following questions: What do the methods with which Ireland has attempted to deal with its past tell us about the State’s current approach to power and vulnerability? What is it that Ireland still needs to learn about its treatment of vulnerable women and children? What are the implications of recent State-sponsored investigations for contemporary women, children and other citizens in vulnerable situations? Can truth-telling and a guarantee of non-recurrence take place in the absence of access to records and information held in public and private archives?

What can Ireland learn from transitional justice responses to similar histories in other jurisdictions? Does transitional justice have the potential to assist Ireland in building a Human Rights infrastructure and thereby help guarantee non-recurrence of these failures?

This conference is free and open to the public. 

Conference Program

broken sink

*Photo Credit: Fiona Ward

Towards Transitional Justice: Recognition, Truth-telling, and Institutional Abuse in Ireland

November 1-2, 2018
Gasson Hall, 100
Boston College

Thursday November 1

1:00 PM    Welcome Remarks

1:10 PM–1:40 PM    Dr. Katherine Zappone, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Government of Ireland.
Introduction by:  Thomas H. Groome, School of Theology and Ministry, Boston College

"Love's Pursuit: An Approach to Transitional Justice in Ireland."

1:45 PM    PANEL 1: Transitional Justice and Institutionalized Children

Chair, Arissa Oh, History Department, Boston College

Rosemary Nagy, Gender Equality & Social Justice, Nippissing University, Canada          
“Epistemology as a Resource for Transitional Justice: Healing the Intergenerational Legacy of Indian Residential Schools”

Gordon Lynch, Modern Theology, University of Kent, England
“Transitional Justice and Historical Child Abuse: Lessons from the Case of the UK Child Migration Programmes”


3:10 PM    PANEL 2: Trauma and Records in the context of Transitional Justice

Chair & Commentary: M. Brinton Lykes, Lynch School of Education & Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

Patricia Lundy, Sociology, Ulster University, Northern Ireland
“The Potential and Limits of Historical Abuse Inquiries to Meet Victims' Justice Needs”

Shurlee Swain, History, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
“Records in Context: Lessons from Australia's ‘Find & Connect’ Project”


4:30 PM-5:15 PM    DISCUSSION SESSION I: International Human Rights Conventions—A Transitional Justice Agenda

Moderator: Katherine O’Donnell, Philosophy, University College Dublin, Ireland

Felice Gaer, Director, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, New York and Vice Chair, UN Committee Against Torture* (*for identification purposes only)

5:30 PM      RECEPTION

Hosted by John J. Burns Library, Boston College, with generous support from Ireland’s Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Consulate General of Ireland in Boston


Ruth Rubio Marín, Professor of Constitutional Law, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain; Director of the Gender and Governance Programme at the School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

"Reparations for Historic Institutional Violence: Learning from Transitional Justice?"

Introduction by Katharine G. Young, Boston College Law School

Friday November 2

8:30 AM      BREAKFAST

9:00 AM      PANEL 3: Regulating Shame

Chair: Joseph Nugent, English & Irish Studies, Boston College

James Gallen, Law, Dublin City University, Ireland
“Shame, Contempt and Power: Ireland’s Legacy of Historical Abuse”

Colin Smith, Law, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
“Procedural Obstacles to Access to Justice for Victims of Historic Abuse”

Mairead Enright, Law, University of Birmingham, England
Sinéad Ring, Law, University of Kent, England
“Governing through Shame: State Shame, Transitional Justice and Violence Against Women and Children”


10:30 AM    PANEL 4: Imagining the Truth-telling of Transitional Justice

Chair: Marjorie Howes, Associate Professor, English & Irish Studies, Boston College

Mary Burke, English, University of Connecticut, USA
“The Day of Reckoning: Protestant institutions for women and Joyce’s ‘The Dead’”                              

Emilie Pine, Modern Drama and Irish Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland
“Digital Tools for Responding to Institutional Abuse”                             

Emer O’Toole, Performance Studies and Irish Studies, Concordia University, Canada
“I wish Ann Lovett were out Buying a Swimsuit for Lanzarote”



Connie Roberts, Survivor, Poet, Teacher (New York, USA)

Mary Harney, Survivor, Teacher (Maine, USA)

Caitríona Palmer, Survivor, Journalist, Author (Washington, DC, USA)

Mari Steed, Survivor, Activist, Advocate (Virginia, USA)

Moderator: James M. Smith, English & Irish Studies, Boston College, USA


2:15 PM    PANEL 5: Transitional Justice: Gender, Fact, and Artefact

Chair: Eileen Donovan Kranz, English, Boston College

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Law, University of Minnesota, USA
“Gendered Truth Telling in Northern Ireland”

Laura McAtackney, Archeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark
“Material Ruins and Retrieving Experiences of Magdalene Laundries”       



3:35 PM    PANEL 6: Truth-telling and Irish Adoption

Chair: Thomas Crea, School of Social Work, Boston College

Paul Michael Garrett, Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
“Mother and Baby Homes: Notes on the Irish State and its ‘shameful classes’”                                 

Claire McGettrick, Sociology, University College Dublin, Ireland
 “'Illegitimate' Knowledge: Transitional Justice and Adopted People?”


5:00 PM     DISCUSSION SESSION II: Stakeholders in Conversation

Moderator: Maeve O’Rourke, Senior Research and Policy Officer, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Dublin; Legal Advisor, Justice for Magdalenes Research

Catriona Crowe, Archivist

Conall Ó Fátharta, Journalism, Irish Examiner, Cork, Ireland                            

Colm O’Gorman, International Human Rights, Amnesty International Ireland, Dublin Ireland

Mari Steed, Co-Founder, Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) and Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA)

gutted church

*Photo Credit: Fiona Ward

Mary Burke, Associate Professor,  Department of English, University of Connecticut, USA

Mary Burke is Associate Professor of English at UConn, where she directs the Irish Literature Concentration. She is author of “Tinkers”: Synge and the Cultural History of the Irish Traveller (Oxford) and has published widely on twentieth-century Irish drama and culture and on fiction writers as diverse as Edna O’Brien, Henry James, and Bram Stoker. She has held the NEH Keough-Naughton Fellowship at University of Notre Dame and is current MLA Irish Literature Forum Executive Committee Chair. Recent articles consider the politics of postwar Irish couture, the Celtic Tiger and motherhood in Claire Kilroy’s oeuvre, correlations between the Synge and Stravinsky riots, and Croke Park’s 1966 Easter Rising commemoration. Her forthcoming James Joyce Quarterly article examines elided women’s traditions and “The Dead.”


Thomas M. Crea, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Boston College

Thomas M. Crea, PhD, MSW, is an Associate Professor, Chair of the Global Practice Concentration, and Assistant Dean of Global Programs at the School of Social Work, Boston College.  A former licensed clinical social worker, Dr. Crea’s research focuses on the intersections of child welfare, refugee social protection and education, and strengthening humanitarian aid and international development programs. His research spans multiple countries, which in addition to the U.S. have included Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Palestine, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Catriona Crowe, Archivist

Catriona Crowe is former Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland. She was Manager of the Census Online Project, which placed the Irish 1901 and 1911 censuses online free to access. She is editor of Dublin 1911, published by the Royal Irish Academy in late 2011. She presented the RTE documentary, Ireland before the Rising, which was shown in February 2016. She is Chairperson of the Irish Theatre Institute, which promotes and supports Irish theatre and has created an award-winning website of Irish theatre productions. She is an Honorary President of the Irish Labour History Society, and a former President of the Women’s History Association. She is Chairperson of the SAOL Project, a rehabilitation initiative for women with addiction problems, based in the North Inner City, and also Chairperson of the Inner City Renewal Group, which delivers employment and welfare rights advice and support to the community in the North Inner City. She is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Eileen Donovan Kranz, Associate Professor of the Practice, English Department, Boston College

Eileen Donovan Kranz, Associate Professor of the Practice of English at Boston College, is a writer who teaches writing and is the managing editor of Fresh Ink: Essays from Boston College's First-Year Writers.  She invites you to peruse and perhaps assign works from this accomplished annual essay collection written and edited by BC undergraduates. Her own work in creative nonfiction and fiction concerns family and memory and can be found in The Morning News, Literary Mama, YARN, among other publications. Donovan-Kranz' maternal grandparents emigrated from Ireland (Waterford and Wexford) in the 1920s. Her family now believes her grandmother’s sister (always referred to as “poor, poor Maggie”) was a Magdalen survivor. A sibling raised Maggie’s only child as her own until his teens. After being introduced to Maggie as an “aunt” in the 1940s, this son lived with her until her death in the 1980s.


Mairead Enright, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Birmingham, UK

Máiréad Enright joined Birmingham Law School in 2016. Her research is in feminist legal studies and law and religion. She is especially interested in how patriarchal legal and religious structures can be resisted and changed. Her research in this respect looks beyond traditional methods of law reform to consider illegality, protest, private litigation, and experimental legal drafting. She is Co-Director of the Northern/Irish Feminist Judgments Project, and often consults with and advises groups campaigning around reproductive rights and historical gender-based violence in Ireland. 

Twitter: @maireadenrighty

Felice Gaer, Director,  Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, USA; and Vice Chair, UN Committee Against Torture* (*for identification purposes only)

Felice Gaer is Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Human Rights, based in New York. She is also vice chair and an independent expert member of the UN Committee against Torture, which monitors compliance of 163 states with the Convention against Torture. Gaer was formerly a Commissioner and chair of the Bipartisan federal US Commission on International Religious Freedom, nominated by Congressional Democrats and later, President Obama. An expert on the UN and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she was Regents Professor at UCLA, recipient of the First Freedom Center’s National Religious Freedom Award, and of the UNA-USA’s Louis Sohn Award in International Human Rights. In 2018, she received a Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Gaer has been active in ensuring that women’s rights are addressed as human rights, and that violence against women, including rape, has been addressed effectively by UN human rights bodies. At Ireland’s UNCAT examination in Geneva on May 24, 2011, Felice Gaer questioned the government's statement that "the vast majority” of women entered Magdalene Laundries “voluntarily.” In 2017, she was rapporteur on the UNCAT review of Ireland’s second report and has continued to engage the government on its obligations on these matters under the Convention. See CAT.SR.1548, esp paras 19-23.

Twitter: @JBI_HumanRights

James Gallen, Assistant Professor, School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Ireland

James Gallen is a lecturer in the School of Law and Government at Dublin City University. His PhD thesis examined the relationship between transitional justice, peace-building and economic development in international law. His research interests include human rights, international law and legal and transitional justice. His present research agenda and recent publications concern transitional justice and jus post bellum, and a transitional justice approach to historical abuse in consolidated democracies, especially child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. In 2017 he was appointed as an Expert Advisor on Transitional Justice by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to advise on a transitional justice approach to the issue of Mother and Baby Homes.

Twitter: @jamesgallen

Paul Michael Garrett, Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland-Galway, Ireland

Paul Michael Garrett works at NUI Galway in the Republic of Ireland. In 2018 he was Visiting Professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) and he has presented keynote papers at international conferences across Europe and in China. Contemporary neoliberalism and historical practices of marginalisation and domination are some of his key scholarly concerns. For over ten years, he has been a member of the editorial collective of Critical Social Policy. He is the author of many internationally peer-reviewed articles and several books including, in 2018, Welfare Words (Sage) and Social Work and Social Theory: Second Edition(Policy Press).


Mary Harney, College of the Atlantic, ME, USA

Mary Harney was born in the Bessborough Mother and Baby home, in Cork City, Ireland in 1949. She was taken from her mother at age 2 and put briefly into foster care before being sentenced by a judge in Cork County Court to twelve-and-a-half years in the Good Shepherd’s Industrial School, also in Cork. During her stay in the industrial school, Mary was told that her mother was dead, but upon her release at age 16, she discovered that her mother was alive and living in the UK. She traced her mother by herself, and they were reunited when Mary was 17. Since that time, she has been a soldier, a teacher, a firefighter, a part-time lecturer, and a construction worker/painter. She earned her BA in human ecology at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbour, ME and a MA in Irish Studies at National University Ireland–Galway. She was also awarded an honorary masters in philosophy from the College of the Atlantic. Mary has lived in the US since 1992.

Marjorie Howes, Associate Professor, English & Irish Studies, Boston College

Marjorie Howes teaches English at Boston College.  She is the author of Yeats's Nations: Gender, Class, and Irishness (1996) and Colonial Crossings: Figures in Irish Literary History(2006).  She is the co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to W. B. Yeats (2006) and Yeats and Afterwords (2014), and a contributing editor to The Field Day Anthology of Irish Women's Writing (2012).


Patricia Lundy, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

Patricia Lundy received her PhD from Queen’s University Belfast in 1993. In 2016, Patricia was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship. She was the recipient of a British Academy Senior Research Fellowship in 2009/2010 and has received other grants from prestigious funding bodies including the Nuffield Foundation, Irish Academy and British AcademyHer research has also been funded by Community Relations Council, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and European Union’s Peace funding.

Patricia's research has focused on post-conflict transformation, mechanisms for “dealing with the past,” “truth” recovery and the politics of memory. She has researched both community-based “truth” recovery processes and official police-led historical conflict-related inquiries. Her in-depth study of the Police Service Northern Ireland’s, Historical Enquiries Team achieved considerable media coverage and impact and  has been widely regarded in changing the landscape in dealing with the past in NI.

Her most recent work is a major empirical study of historic child abuse. She is committed to “bottom-up” participatory approaches and a desire to ensure that survivor’s needs drive the form that redress takes. In this regard, Patricia was instrumental in working with survivor groups to set up a panel of experts on redress. In collaboration with Professor Kathleen Mahoney (Calgary University), she has published a number of practical and policy relevant reports designed to assist redressing historic child abuse, including a framework for compensation. She is committed to linking academia to the wider community and strives to make her research impact positively on beneficiaries.


M. Brinton Lykes, Professor, School of Education, Co-Director, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College

M. Brinton Lykes is Professor of Community-Cultural Psychology and Co-Director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College. Her anti-racist feminist activist scholarship focuses on: (1) violence against women and children in armed conflict and post-conflict (sic) transitions; and, (2) migration and post-deportation human rights violations and resistance. She has published extensively in refereed journals and edited volumes, co-edited four books, co-authored four others and is co-editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Transitional Justice.


Gordon Lynch, Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology, University of Kent, UK 

Gordon Lynch is Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology at the University of Kent. He has undertaken extensive research into the history of the UK child migration schemes and is the author of Remembering Child Migration: Faith, Nation-Building and the Wounds of Charity (Bloomsbury, 2015). He served as one of two lead expert witnesses for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) investigation into the sexual abuse of British child migrants during 2016/17 and previously acted as the academic curator of a major national exhibition on the history of UK child migration programmes at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.

Twitter: @gordon_lynch

Ruth Rubio Marín, Professor of Constitutional Law, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain; Director of the Gender and Governance Programme at the School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

Ruth Rubio Marín is Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Sevilla, Director of the Gender and Governance Programme at the School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Florence, and a member of the Faculty of The Hauser Global Law School Program at New York University. Her research represents an attempt to understand how public law creates categories of inclusion and exclusion around different axis including gender, citizenship, nationality and ethnicity. Professor Rubio is the author of over 40 articles and author, editor and co-editor of 8 books (plus two in press). She is currently working on the book The Disestablishment of Gender in the New Millennium Constitutionalism. As a consultant and activist, Rubio has worked for several national and international institutions and agencies including with the UN and the EU, and has extensive in-country experience in dealing with reparations in post-conflict societies, including in Morocco, Nepal and Colombia. Her image will be included in the Legacy Wall to be installed in the new building of the International Criminal Court in The Hague to honor her lifelong commitment to gender justice.


Laura McAtackney, Associate Professor, Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark

Laura McAtackney is an Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology & Heritage Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark. An archaeologist by training, her current research uses contemporary and historical archaeological approaches, and its heritage implications, to explore areas as diverse as material barriers in post-conflict Northern Ireland, female experiences of political imprisonment during the Irish Civil War and race/social relations on early modern Montserrat in the Caribbean (the latter is as a member of the SLAM project at Wayne State University and Brown University in the US). 

Twitter: @LMcAtackney


Claire McGettrick, PhD Candidate School of Sociology, University College Dublin; Irish Research Council, Government of Ireland; and Co-founder, Justice for Magdalenes Research, Ireland


Claire McGettrick is an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar at the School of Sociology in University College Dublin. Her PhD research is reconstructing the progression of formal and informal adoption in Ireland, as well as examining how adopted adults and children have been classified and defined in the discourses of expert knowledge, and how they have been managed in adoption policy and practice. Claire is also an adopted person and survivors' rights advocate. She is co-founder of Justice for Magdalenes (now JFM Research) and Adoption Rights Alliance. She coordinates the Magdalene Names Project, which has recorded the details of over 1,600 women who lived and died behind laundry walls. Claire also jointly coordinates the Clann Project with Dr Maeve O'Rourke. The Clann Project provides free statement-drafting assistance to witnesses who wish to give evidence to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.

Twitter: @cmcgettrick

Rosemary Nagy, Associate Professor, Department of Gender Equality and Social Justice, Nipissing University, Canada

Rosemary Nagy is Associate Professor in the department of Gender Equality and Social Justice at Nipissing University in North Bay, Canada.  She lives and works in Robinson-Huron Treaty territory on the traditional lands of the Anishnaabeg People, specifically, the Nipissing First Nation.  Rosemary has researched and published on transitional justice in South Africa, Rwanda and Canada.  Her last project was on Indian Residential Schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.  She continues to work on Indigenous-settler relationships, including through her current role as Co-Director of the Northeastern Ontario Research Alliance on Human Trafficking.  Rosemary has published in the International Journal of Transitional JusticeHuman Rights ReviewThird World Quarterly and guest co-edited a special section on residential schools in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society.


Joseph Nugent, Professor of the Practice, English Department & Irish Studies, Boston College

Boston College Professor of the Practice Joseph Nugent teaches the works of James Joyce, Digital Humanities, and Irish language. His research runs from Irish nationalism, through Irish modernism, to sensory studies and the application of digital technologies. He has published on Irish religious history and olfaction in nineteenth-century Ireland, and produced the e-books Digital Dubliners and Jewels of the Irish Arts & Crafts Movement. His successful digital productions include the smartphone app JoyceWays, and Dubliners Bookshelf.  His highly-acclaimed recent digital enterprise involved a virtual reality experience called Joycestick, which offered an immersive realization of scenes from Ulysses. His current interest turns to the area of Public Humanities: From Page to Pod is a classroom- and media based multidisciplinary enterprise designed to bring the works of Flann O’Brien to a broad American audience.


Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School, USA and University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

Professor of Law, Public Policy and Society at the University of Minnesota Law School and Professor of Law at the University of Ulster’s Transitional Justice Institute in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Professor Ní Aoláin is the recipient of numerous academic awards and honors including the Leverhulme Fellowship, Fulbright scholarship, the Alon Prize, the Robert Schumann Scholarship, a European Commission award, and the Lawlor fellowship. She has published extensively in the fields of emergency powers, conflict regulation, transitional justice and sex based violence in times of war. Her book Law in Times of Crisis (CUP 2006) was awarded the American Society of International Law’s preeminent prize in 2007–the Certificate of Merit for creative scholarship. Her book On the Frontlines: Gender, War and the Post Conflict Process was published by Oxford University Press (2011). Another book, Exceptional Courts and Military Commissions in Comparative Perspective was published in 2013 by Cambridge University Press (with Oren Gross). She recently edited the Oxford Handbook on Gender and Conflict (2017) and has published extensively on issues of gender and international law.

Professor Ní Aoláin is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism (3-year appointment). Previously, she was a representative of the prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at domestic war crimes trials in Bosnia (1996-97). In 2003, she was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as Special Expert on promoting gender equality in times of conflict and peace-making. In 2011, she was appointed as consultant jointly by the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and UN WOMEN to prepare a Study on Reparations for Conflict Related Sexual Violence. Ní Aoláin has been nominated twice (2004 and 2007) by the Irish government to the European Court of Human Rights, the first woman and the first academic lawyer to be thus nominated. She was appointed by the Irish Minister of Justice to the Irish Human Rights Commission in 2000 and served until 2005.

Twitter: @NiAolainF

Katherine O’Donnell, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Ireland and Justice for Magdalenes Research, Ireland

Katherine O’Donnell is Assoc. Prof. History of Ideas, UCD School of Philosophy and is a member of Justice for Magdalenes Research. She was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study for a Masters in English Literature at Boston College. She won a further fellowship to study at the University of California at Berkeley while completing her Ph.D. thesis on the Gaelic background to Edmund Burke's political thought. She was appointed as a College Lecturer in Women's Studies in UCD and went on to become Director of  UCD Women's Studies Centre, a position she held for ten years until 2015. In 2016 she taught modules in Feminist Philosophy on the University of Oxford's B.Phil programme. In 2017 she was appointed to her current position as Assoc. Prof. in the History of Ideas at UCD. She has published widely in the history of sexuality and gender; and the cultural history of Eighteenth Century Ireland.

Twitter: @Ka_ODonnell

Conall Ó Fátharta, Senior News Reporter, Irish Examiner, Ireland

Conall Ó Fátharta is a Senior News Reporter with the Irish Examiner newspaper in Ireland. His work is primarily investigative in nature and focuses on Ireland's treatment of unmarried women and related practices–including forced and illegal adoption, infant trafficking, falsification of identities and records, medical and vaccine trials, infant mortality and the use of infant remains for anatomical research. He has also written extensively about Ireland's Magdalen Laundries and reported on recent advocacy campaigns, government inquiries, and redress schemes. In 2018 the Law Society of Ireland recognized his contribution to the pursuit of human rights and social justice for vulnerable citizens by awarding him a merit certificate citing his work on the Magdalene Redress scheme as "of enormous national significance.” In 2011, he received a Justice Media Award from the Law Society for a series of articles on illegal adoption and State failures to legislate for adoption tracing rights. He regularly features as a contributor on national current affairs broadcasts on both television and radio, including Prime TimeMorning IrelandDrivetimeToday with The Pat Kenny Show, and Tonight with Vincent Browne. Writing in the London Review of Books, Ireland's first Laureate for Fiction Anne Enright best captured the significance of his work: "In the Examiner, Conall Ó Fátharta keeps breaking a story about Bessborough, another Mother and Baby Home, also in Cork."

Twitter: @ococonuts

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director, Amnesty International Ireland; Founder and Former Director of One in Four, Ireland

Colm O’Gorman is the Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. He is the founder and former Director of One in Four, the national non-governmental organisation that supports women and men who have experienced sexual violence. In this role Colm was instrumental in the establishment of the Ferns Inquiry, the first state investigation into clerical sexual abuse. The inquiry investigated the management of child sexual abuse concerns and allegations by the Catholic Church and by State authorities. Prior to his role with One in Four, Colm worked as a psychotherapist in his own practice in London.

He has made a number of documentary films, including the BAFTA awarding winning A Family Affair (2000), Suing the Pope (2002) and Sex Crimes and The Vatican, which he presented for BBC Panorama in 2006. In 2005, Colm O’Gorman helped to establish Gorey Educate Together National School, a multi-denominational, co-educational, child centred, and democratically run primary school. Colm was one of the lead campaigners in the Marriage Equality Referendum held in May 2015.

Colm has also served as a member of the Irish Senate, having been appointed as a Senator in May 2007. He is a regular media commentator and contributor, and essayist writing and speaking extensively on social justice and human rights. He is also the author of a best-selling memoir, Beyond Belief (Hodder & Stoughton 2010). Colm lives in County Wexford with his family.

Twitter: @Colmogorman

Arissa Oh, Associate Professor, History Department, Boston College

Arissa H. Oh is Associate Professor in the History Department at Boston College, where she teaches and researches migration in US history, particularly in relation to race, gender, and kinship. Her first book, To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption (Stanford University Press, 2015), examined how and why Korean adoption began in the aftermath of the Korean War, and how it developed into international adoption in subsequent decades. She is currently working on a history of marriage migration and immigration fraud since the 19th century.


Maeve O’Rourke, Senior Research and Policy Officer and Legal Advisor, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Justice For Magdalenes Research, Ireland

Dr Maeve O’Rourke works as Senior Research and Policy Officer at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. She has also acted as voluntary legal advisor to Justice for Magdalenes Research since 2009, and she is a co-director of the voluntary Clann Project (an evidence-gathering initiative between JFMR, Adoption Rights Alliance and global law firm Hogan Lovells). Maeve is a barrister at 33 Bedford Row, London, and she is also called to the New York State Bar. Prior to joining the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Maeve practised in human rights, family law and international mass tort/environmental claims. She worked for the international women’s rights organisation Equality Now, and as a researcher at Harvard Law School and the University of Minnesota Law School Human Rights Center. Maeve teaches university human rights-related courses regularly. She is a graduate of University College Dublin, Harvard Law School and Birmingham Law School. Her PhD, awarded in 2018, focused on the potential for the rule against torture and ill-treatment in international human rights law to better protect older people.

Twitter: @maeveorourke

Emer O’Toole, Associate Professor of Irish Performance Studies, Concordia University

Emer O'Toole is Associate Professor of Irish Performance Studies at the School of Irish Studies, Concordia University. Her current research, funded by the Fonds de Recherche de Quebec and by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, examines the relationship between aesthetics and activism in contemporary Irish theatre. She is author of the book Girls Will Be Girls and co-editor of the collection Ethical Exchanges in Translation, Adaptation and Dramaturgy. Her academic work appears in international peer-reviewed journals including SexualitiesLIT (Literature, Interpretation, Theory), Éire-Ireland, and Target. She is also a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Irish Times.

Twitter: @Emer_OToole

Caítriona Palmer, Author, Journalist, Washington, DC. USA

Caítriona Palmer is the author of the bestselling memoir, An Affair with my Mother: A Story of Adoption, Secrecy and Love (Penguin, 2016). A writer, journalist, and Irish adoptee, Caítriona is a frequent commentator on the legacy of secrecy and shame generated by Ireland’s closed adoption system. Her commentary has appeared in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, RTE radio, the BBC and CNN. Caítriona’s latest book, Climate Justice, co-written with former President of Ireland and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, Mary Robinson, will be published by Bloomsbury in September 218. A native of Dublin, and a graduate of University College Dublin and Boston College, Caítriona now lives in Washington, DC with her husband and three children.

Twitter: @CaitrionaPalmer
Secret Sons and Daughters

Emilie Pine, Associate Professor, School of English, Drama and Film, University College Dublin, Ireland

Emilie Pine is Associate Professor of Modern Drama at University College Dublin. Emilie is Editor of the Irish University Review and Director of the Irish Memory Studies Network. She is PI of the Irish Research Council New Horizons project Industrial Memories, a digital humanities re-reading of the Ryan Report on institutional child abuse. Emilie has published widely in the field of Irish studies and memory studies, including The Politics of Irish Memory: Performing Remembrance in Contemporary Irish Culture (Palgrave, 2011) and The Memory Marketplace: Performance, Testimony and Witnessing in Contemporary Theatre(forthcoming Indiana University Press, 2019). Her first collection of personal essays, Notes to Self, is published by Tramp Press (2018).

Twitter: @emiliepineWebsite
Industrial Memories

Sinéad Ring, Senior Lecturer, Kent Law School, University of Kent, UK

Sinéad is a Senior Lecturer at Kent Law School in England. She is the author of numerous articles on historical child sexual abuse, and the central question animating her research focuses on what law's engagement with reports of historical child sexual abuse reveals about shared public understandings of fairness, victimhood, and the nation. Her work has been published in Social and Legal Studies, The International Journal of Evidence and Proof, ​​and The International Journal for Crime Justice and Social Democracy. She is the author (with Kate Gleeson [Macquarie] and Kim Stevenson [Plymouth]) of Legal Responses to Historical Child Sexual Abuse: Critical and Comparative Perspectives ​(Routledge, forthcoming 2019). In addition to historical child sexual abuse, Sinéad also researches the criminal law on rape and is currently working on a project on the criminalisation of so-called 'stealthing' (non-consensual condom removal during sex).

At Kent, Sinéad teaches The Law of Evidence and Law, Literature and Film and she is a Director of Graduate Studies. Sinéad is also a member of the University of Kent's Working Group on Sexual Violence against Students.

Twitter: @sineadring

Connie Roberts, Poet, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Hofstra University, New York

Connie Roberts, a County Offaly native, is the author of Little Witness (Arlen House, Dublin),

a collection of poetry inspired by her experiences growing up in an industrial school in the Irish midlands. Her 14 siblings were also reared in Irish orphanages. Writing in The New York Times, Dan Barry stated, “In her vivid recounting of a childhood spent in one of Ireland’s notorious industrial schools, truth hides behind no ‘masquerade of metaphors’. Roberts honors children, holds adults accountable, and finds acceptance, all with a reportorial rigor that, through her soaring language and big-hearted vision, achieves poetic art.  This is the poetry of rock-hard experience. It will skin your soul.” She is the recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Award and the Listowel Writers’ Week Poetry Collection Award.  She was selected as the Exceptional Offaly Person of the Year 2016. She teaches creative writing at Hofstra University, New York.


Colin Smith, Barrister, Bar of Ireland and School of Law, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Colin Smith is a barrister practising in the field of human rights law. He specialises in representing victims of trafficking in human beings. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Law at Trinity College Dublin and lectures in anti-trafficking law at the Honorable Society of King’s Inns. He is a member of the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council of Ireland and a former chairman of the Irish Society of International Law. He has worked as a consultant for the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the International Bar Association and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Before practising in Dublin, he worked in Chambers at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown and in the War Crimes Division of the Office of the Prosecutor at the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.


James M. Smith, Associate Professor, English Department, Boston College

James M. Smith is an Associate Professor in the English Department and Irish Studies Program at Boston College. He also directs the university’s Lowell Humanities Series. He has published articles in Signs, The Journal of the History of Sexuality, Éire-Ireland and ELH. His book, Ireland’s Magdalen Laundries and the nation’s architecture of containment  (U of Notre Dame P/Manchester UP) was published in 2007 and was awarded The Donald Murphy Prize for Distinguished First Book by the American Conference for Irish Studies. Together with Maria Luddy, he co-edited the collection Children, Childhood and Irish Society: 1500 to the Present (Four Courts, 2014). And, he edited Two National Tales: Maria Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent and Sydney Owenson’s  The wild Irish girl (Houghton Mifflin, 2005 ). He is also a member of the advocacy group Justice For Magdalenes Research (JFMR).


Mari Steed, Co-founder, Justice for Magdalenes Research; US Coordinator, Adoption Rights Alliance, USA

Mari Steed was one of more than 2,000 children exported from Ireland to the US, and was born in the Bessboro mother-baby home in Cork. She serves as US Coordinator with Adoption Rights Alliance. In 2003, Mari co-founded Justice for Magdalenes (now known as Justice for Magdalenes Research), an advocacy organization which successfully campaigned for a State apology and restorative justice for survivors of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. She currently serves as the group’s Committee Director. In 2016, ARA and JFMR launched Clann Project, a comprehensive fact/testimony-gathering effort to shadow Ireland’s current Commission of Inquiry into Mother-Baby Homes and Adoption, and to provide those wishing to give sworn testimony to the Commission pro bono legal advice and support. She also serves as vice president on the executive committee of US adoptee rights organization, Bastard Nation.

Twitter: @culchiewoman 

Shurlee Swain, Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Education and the Arts, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia

Professor Shurlee Swain is a social historian whose work has informed several of the recent Australian inquiries into past child welfare practices. She is a fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Academy of the Humanities in Australia, the historian Chief Investigator on the national Find & Connect web resource project and a consultant on various adoption related research projects. She has been CI on ARC Discovery and Linkage programs throughout her academic career and has published widely particularly at the intersection of welfare and history, including her recent co-written history of adoption in Australia, The Market in Babies (2013).


Dr. Katharine Young, Associate Professor of Law, Boston College Law School

Katharine Young is an Associate Professor of Law at Boston College Law School, where she teaches the law of contracts, comparative and international human rights law, and feminist legal theory. Her scholarship focuses on issues of comparative public law and theory, and positive state obligations, and her book, Constituting Economic and Social Rights (Oxford University Press, 2012), was published in Oxford’s Constitutional Theory series. Her co-edited collection (with Kim Rubenstein), The Public Law of Gender: from the Local to the Global(Cambridge University Press, 2016) appeared in the series Connecting International Law with Public Law. She has also published a casebook, with James S. Rogers, The Law of Contracts(Foundation Press, 2017). Professor Young is currently editing The Future of Economic and Social Rights (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). Prior to joining the faculty of Boston College Law School, Professor Young was an Associate Professor at the Australian National University College of Law, and earlier worked with Paul, Weiss in New York, Allens in Melbourne, and clerked with the Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG of the High Court of Australia. She received her first law degree from the University of Melbourne, and LL.M. and S.J.D. degrees from Harvard Law School, and also studied law at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. She was a fellow at Harvard University’s Project on Justice, Welfare and Economics, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.  


Dr Katherine Zappone, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Government of Ireland

Activist, social justice campaigner and an Independent Minister of the Irish Government, Dr Katherine Zappone is a leading human rights figure in Ireland. Her leadership on complex issues surrounding Mother and Baby Homes has brought a strong transitional justice focus to the Irish Government’s response. She established a ground-breaking Collaborative Forum to ensure no decisions are taken without the strong input and voice of survivors. Prior to entering politics Dr Zappone and her late spouse Dr Ann Louise Gilligan set Ireland on the road to Marriage Equality with legal action in Ireland’s highest courts.  Together they also co-founded An Cosán, an organization that combats inter-generational poverty through education and training. Since its inception, An Cosán has grown into Ireland's largest community education organization. Dr Zappone also lectured for a decade in Trinity College Dublin on ethics, human rights and practical theology.  She holds a PhD from Boston College, an MBA from the Smurfit Business School and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from University College Dublin’s School of Law.

Twitter: @KZapponeTD



Additional Resources for Teachers and Students

We are pleased to offer the following online resources to encourage attendees, teachers, students, and members of the community to enhance their engagement with this conference. This conference is free and open to the public, and we encourage BC students, faculty, and community members to participate in the conversation. Resources provided cover both the Irish Institutional Complex and the field of Transitional Justice more generally. ​For speakers’ book titles, please see their short bios on the “About the Speakers” page. Articles in academic journals are available to members of the BC community through the University Libraries website.

TEACHABLE TEXTS/CONTEXTS—Ireland’s Institutional Complex:


Dublin Honours Magdalenes “Listening Exercise,” 6 June 2018

Felice Gaer, UNCAT First Periodic Review of Ireland, 24 May 2011

Felice Gaer, UNCAT Second Periodic Review of Ireland, 28 July 2017 (start at 2.18 min)

Maeve O’Rourke, “Why apologise today for historic abuse?” TEDxUCD, 2015.

TrueTube Educational Video, “The Magdalenes

New York Times, “796 Irish Children Vanished. Why?”

Clann Project Short Video: Mari Steed

Clann Project Short Video: Philomena Lee and Jane Libberton

Caítriona Palmer, “Caitriona—I’m still grieving her,” Adoptees on Relationships Podcast

John Pascal Rodgers, featured in “Children of Shame” documentary (prod. Sunset Presse) [also features Derek Leinster and the Protestant Bethany Home survivors campaign]

Guardian, “Ireland’s forgotten mixd-race child abuse victims


Dr Katherine Zappone, TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, “First Meeting of Collaborative Forum on Mother and Baby Homes,” 26th July 2018

Research Projects Websites:

University College Dublin/Irish Research Council, Magdalene Oral History Project (includes links to survivor testimony)

Justice for Magdalenes Research, Magdalene Names Project

Justice for Magdalenes Research/Adoption Rights Alliance, CLANN Project

Justice for Magdalenes Research, Flowers for Magdalenes

University College Dublin, Industrial Memories Project

Justice for Magdalenes Research, Dublin Honour Magdalenes


(See Conall Ó Fátharta’s wordpress site for his extensive investigative journalism on related matters:; the following are a select few of Ó Fátharta’s articles)

Tressa Reeves’s decade-long battle to get the State to tell her son the truth about his birth.” The Irish Examiner 25 June 2018.

Bessborough children were buried in unmarked graves as late as 1990s.” The Irish Examiner19 February 2018.

Four years on, questions continue to be asked of report into Magdalene Laundries,” The Irish Examiner 1 November 2017.

Staying off the record on access to archives,” The Irish Examiner 18 October 2017.

Bessborough: We have right to know the truth.” The Irish Examiner 15 November 2016.

Special Investigation: Fears over ‘trafficking’ of children to the US.” The Irish Examiner 3 June 2015.

Special Investigation: Centre and laundry ‘one in the same’.” The Irish Examiner 4 June 2015.

Recent Opinion Editorials:

James M. Smith, “Will the Mother and Baby Homes Commission advertise to the hidden Irish diaspora,” The Irish Times 9 November 2016.

Maeve O’Rourke, “Magdalene Laundries survivors have waited too long for Redress,” The Irish Examiner 21 February 2018.

Emilie Pine, “We need more than a plague to mark Ireland’s history of cruelty,” The Irish Times 14 April 2018.

Caítriona Palmer, “The State has a duty to tell adoptees the truth,” The Irish Times 2 June 2018.

Claire McGettrick and Susan Lohan, “‘Old Ireland’ still exists for adoptees,” The Irish Examiner 2 June 2018.

Katherine O’Donnell, “Let’s listen attentively to survivors of Magdalene Laundries: Mansion House event a small but significant step towards transitional justice.” The Irish Times 5 June 2018.

James Smith, “Two cathartic days for 200 dignified Magdalene survivors,” The Irish Examiner5 June 2018.

Una Mullally, “Will Ireland’s ‘dark chapters’ ever come to an end,” The Irish Times 18 June 2018.

Fintan O’Toole, “How to honour our unshamed Magdalenes,” The Irish Times 9 June 2018.

Long-form Journalism:

Clair Wills, "Family Secrets," The New York Review of Books 16 August 2018

Dan Barry, “The Lost Children of Tuam.” New York Times 28 October 2017.

Sarah Hampson, “Ireland’s House of Tears: Why Tuam’s survivors want justice for lost and abused children.” The Globe and Mail (Canada) 29 September 2017.

Anne Enright, “Antigone in Galway.” The London Review of Books 17 December 2015.

Polaneczky, Ronnie. “The Woman Who Exposed Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries.” Philadephia Magazine, 23 May 2013.

Academic Articles and Lectures/Talks related to the Justice for Magdalenes Campaign

Katherine O’Donnell,  “Academics Becoming Activists: Reflections on Some Ethical Issues of the Justice for Magdalenes Campaign.” Irishness on the Margins: Minority and Dissident Identities, edited by Pilar Villar-Argáiz, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2018, pp. 77-100.

Maeve O’Rouke and James M. Smith. “Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries: Confronting a History Not Yet in the Past.” A Century of Progress? Irish Women Reflect, edited by Alan Hayes and Máire Meagher, Arlen House, 2016, pp. 107-34.

Maeve O’Rourke, “The Justice for Magdalenes Campaign.” Implementing International Human Rights: Perspectives for Ireland, edited by S. Egan, Bloomsbury, 2016. 153-78.

Claire McGettrick, “Death, Institutionalisation and Duration of Stay.” Critique of Chapter 16 of McAleese Report.

Smith, James M. “Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries, Academic Advocacy, and Restorative Justice.” Stephen E. King Chair Lecture Series, University of Maine, 7 March 2018.

McGettrick, Claire. “Magdalene Names Project” Gender Arc Project seminar series, University of Limerick, 21st November 2017.

Advocacy Organization Websites:

Justice for Magdalenes Research

Adoption Rights Alliance


What is Transitional Justice? (Websites and Academic articles)

International Center for Transitional Justice

University of Ulster Transitional Justice Institute

 “What is Transitional Justice” ICTJ Factsheet.

Pablo DeGreiff, “A Normative Conception of Transitional Justice,” Politorbis 50, 3 (2010): 17-29.

M. Brinton Lykes & Hugo van der Merwe, “Exploring/Expanding the Reach of Transitional Justice,” International Journal of Transitional Justice 11, 3 (November 2017): 371-77.

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin & Eilish Rooney, “Underenforcement and Intersectionality: Gendered Aspects of Transition for Women,” International Journal of Transitional Justice 1, 3 (December 2007): 338-54.

Ruth Rubio-Marin, “Reparations for Conflict-related Sexual and Reproductive Violence: A Decalogue.” William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law vol. 19, no. 1 (Fall 2012): 69-104.

Rosemary Nagy, “Transitional Justice as Global Project: Critical Reflections,” Third World Quarterly 29, 2 (2008): 275-89.

Transitional Justice and Irish Institutional Abuse (Websites & Academic articles)

Emilie Pine, Susan Leavy, & Mark T. Keane, “Re-reading the Ryan Report: Witnessing via Close and Distant Reading,” Éire-Ireland: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Irish Studies 52, 1 & 2 (Spring/Summer 2017): 198-215.

Padraig McAuliffe, “Comprehending Ireland’s Post-Catholic Redress as a Form of Transitional Justice,” Oxford Journal of Law and Religion 6 (2017): 541-73.

James Gallen, “Jesus Wept: The Roman Catholic Church, Child Sexual Abuse and Transitional Justice,” International Journal of Transitional Justice 10, 2 (July 2016): 332-49.

Anne-Marie McAlinden, “An inconvenient truth: barriers to truth recovery in the aftermath of institutional child abuse in Ireland,” Legal Studies 33,2 (June 2013): 189-214.

Patricia Lundy and Kathleen Mahoney, “Representing Survivors: A critical analysis of recommendations to resolve Northern Ireland’s historical child abuse claims,” Annual Review of Interdisciplinary Justice Research. Representing Justice. 7 (Winter 2018): 258-91.

Paul Michael Garrett, “Excavating the past: Mother and Baby Homes in the Republic of Ireland,” British Journal of Social Work 47, 2 (March 2017): 358-74.

Amnesty-International, Ireland, In Plain Sight: Responding to the Ferns, Ryan, Murphy, and Cloyne Reports. Carole Holohan (2011).


Ireland. Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Ryan Report) [2009].

Ireland. Residential Institutions Redress Board [2002].

Ireland. Report of the Interdepartmental Committee to establish the facts of State involvement with the Magdalen Laundries (McAleese Report) [2013].

Ireland. Magdalen Commission Report (Quirke Report) [2013].

Ireland. Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.

Ireland. Report on Symphysiotomy in Ireland, 1944-1984 (Walsh Report) [2013].

Ireland. The Surgical Symphysiotomy Ex-Gratia Payment Scheme Report (Harding Clark Report) [2016].

Wiki Pages: Ferns ReportCIIC & Ryan ReportMurphy ReportCloyne ReportMcAleese ReportWalsh Report


UN Committee Against Torture: Justice for Magdalenes Research Submissions

UN Universal Periodic Review: JFMR Submissions

UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women: JFMR Submission

UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: JFMR Submission

UN Human Rights Committee/International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: JFMR Submission

UN Committee Against Torture: Reclaiming Self, Ryan Report Follow-Up Submission to UNCAT

International Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Related to Institutional Abuse & Child Abuse:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada:

Australian Human Rights Commission Bringing Them Home Report (1997):

Australian Find and Connect Project

Reconciliation Australia:

Maine Wabinaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission:


*Photo Credit: Fiona Ward

The organizers sincerely thank the co-sponsors of this conference as well as everyone who contributed to making it a reality.  We appreciate your help and support. “Thank You!”

Special thanks to Irish artist and photographer Fiona Ward for permission to use her photographs and artwork for the conference website and program. Thanks also to Hugh Smith.



Conference Co-Sponsors:

The Institute for the Liberal Arts (ILA)

The Office of the Provost

The Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

The Irish Studies Program

The Jesuit Institute

The Center for Human Rights and International Justice

The Boston College Law School

The Global Leadership Institute

The English Department

The History Department

The Philosophy Department

The School of Social Work/Global Practice Concentration

Ireland's Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Consulate General of Ireland in Boston

Boston College Libraries

The Sociology Department

The Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics

Thank You:

Christian Dupont, Burns Library; Peter Marino, Shaylonda Barton, Stephanie Querzoli, and Gaurie Pandy, Center for Centers;


Annelise Gergen, Annesley Anderson, Brianna Hynes, Emily Casper, Hannah Clay, Jennifer Brown, Katie Brennan, Madison Cortez, Meg Holly, Megha Pancholi, Melissa Serre, Sabrina Hansen, Sophie Nunnally, Tadhg Malone, Kerry Simpson, Emily Lyons, Amirahg Orozco, Rachel Connelly, Matthew Mersky, Theodore Lehre

Organizing Comittee:

Dr. James M. Smith, Associate Professor, English and Irish Studies, Boston College

Dr. Katherine O’Donnell, Associate Professor, Philosophy, University College Dublin

Dr. Maeve O’Rourke, Senior Research and Policy Officer and Legal Advisor, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Megan Crotty, PhD Candidate, English and Irish Studies, Boston College

The Conference will take place in Gasson Hall, 100, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, 02467 on the Boston College Chestnut Hill Campus.

Hotels, Directions, Maps, and Parking

Visitor Parking Information





*Photo Credit: Fiona Ward


Recent News

Abuse survivors need a truth-telling process
Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said there is a need for a truth-telling process for victims and survivors of institutional abuse.| Read the Full Article Here

Zappone to address Boston conference on abuse in Ireland
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone will be keynote speaker today at a conference at Boston College in the US which will discuss how best to address abuse issues and their consequences in Ireland. | Read the Full Article Here

‘We have one chance to get justice for babies found in septic tank’
Katherine Zappone has said that Ireland only has “one chance” to get justice for the families of children buried at the Tuam mother and baby home.| Read the Full Article Here

Travellers still marginalised, says Zappone
Minister Katherine Zappone has pointed to the marginalisation of Travellers in questioning if Ireland has really changed into a "republic of equality, justice and love". | Read the Full Article Here

US calls for transparency from Irish State on child abuse and forced adoptions
Last week in Dublin, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, T.D., announced the government’s decision to excavate the Tuam Baby Home site where it is believed as many as 796 infant and child remains lie buried in a disused septic tank. | Read the Full Article Here

Referendum may be needed on access to adoption files
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has indicated a referendum may be required to give adopted people full access to their records and birth information.| Read the Full Article Here

Abuse victims to attend transitional justice event
Irish survivors of abuse will join international academics and activists in Boston today for a major conference on transitional justice.| Read the Full Article Here

'We have only one chance to get Tuam investigation right' - Zappone
Commission of Investigation report identified human remains in 17 out of 20 chambers in an elongated structure within the boundaries of what is currently referred to as the memorial garden there. | Read the Full Article Here

In the fall semester 2018, James Smith offered an undergraduate elective at Boston College entitled “Outcast Ireland: Pauper, Penitent Patients,” where the students researched and designed poster-boards for presentation at the “Towards Transitional Justice” conference:

Mary Cobble, Liza Frost, Isabelle Morford, Haley Walker, and Oliver Whitters, How do I know who I am?: An Analysis of the Ramifications of Ireland's Adoption Policies, 2018.

Tara Coffey, Meg Dolan, Isabel Rivera, and Daniel Walsh. Narrating Neglect at Artane Industrial School, 2018.

Meghan Dougherty, Sophia Fox, Megan Kelly, and Sydney Walters. Making Visible the Truth of the Galway Magdalen Laundry, 2018.

Audrey Ballard, Kathleen Flaherty, Taylor Puccini, and Jessica Rowe. Confronting Compartmentalization: Bessboro Mother & Baby Home, 2018.

Lyons, Emily. House of the Good Shepherd Boston MA, 2018.