Truth Recovery Design Panel

Ms Deirdre Mahon
Dr Maeve O’Rourke
Prof Phil Scraton

The Northern Ireland Executive have appointed a three-person Panel to work alongside victims and survivors of the institutions and their families to explore options for an investigation/ inquiry. This ‘co-design’ process is to be completed by the end of September 2021.

The Independent Panel was appointed in March. It is chaired by Deirdre Mahon and its members are Dr Maeve O’Rourke and Prof Phil Scraton.


  • Ms Deirdre Mahon
  • Deirdre Mahon is the Director of Women and Children’s Services and the Executive Director of Social Work in the Western Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland. She is a qualified and experienced Social Worker/Youth and Community worker and is passionate in ensuring that the voices of service users are heard, understood and are central to the development and delivery of services.
  • Throughout her 35 years career in public services, Deirdre has maintained her practice in both community and front line social work services.  Deirdre has had extensive experience in both direct work with service users, and management and development of staff. She has developed and led on many innovative practices and leadership initiatives including leading on the development and implementation of the ‘Signs of Safety’, framework in Northern Ireland, which emphasises, ‘Nothing about Families, without Families’. Her expertise and guidance is much sought after, regionally/nationally and internationally, including, England, Scotland,  Republic of Ireland, Europe, North America, Gibraltar, Australia  and the Middle East.
  • She has trained High Court judges, barristers, social workers, teachers and social care staff in this approach. Deirdre has been a driving force in ensuring trauma informed practice is rolled out in N. Ireland, creating awareness of the impact that Adverse Childhood Experiences can have on children and adults. She chairs a North/South, European funded, MACE (Multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences) project, which is working with local communities to identify need and development of services.
  • Deirdre chairs the Western Outcomes group which is an interagency partnership, including, representatives from three council areas, Education Authority, PSNI, Department for Communities, a number of community and voluntary  agencies and local people to influence and develop services at grass root levels to ensure local services for local children. She also chairs the Western Domestic and Sexual Violence interagency partnership and the regional SBNI Child Protection Subgroup.  She is a member of the recently formed Adult Safeguarding Transformation board, which is considering and consulting on changes to legislation to ensure the protection of vulnerable adults.
  • Deirdre is a practice assessor for the post graduate child care award and is a guest lecturer at Queens University Belfast and the University of Ulster. She is also a fellow of the Institute of Management.
  • Deirdre is a professionally qualified Executive and Team Coach and coaches both locally and internationally.
Ms Deirdre Mahon

  • Dr Maeve O’Rourke
  • Maeve O’Rourke PhD (Birmingham), LLM (Harvard), BCL (University College Dublin) is Lecturer in Human Rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, National University of Ireland Galway. 
  • Dr O’Rourke is also a practising barrister and tenant of 33 Bedford Row, London, and a registered Attorney at Law (NY).  Prior to joining NUI Galway in 2019, Dr O’Rourke was Senior Research and Policy Officer for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, and previously worked as a Consultant to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and as an employed barrister for Leigh Day Solicitors (International and Group Claims Department). 
  • Dr O’Rourke’s academic research and writing focuses on the rule against torture and ill-treatment, and on accountability and reparation for gross and systematic human rights violations in social ‘care’ contexts.  Since 2010, Dr O’Rourke has provided pro bono legal research and advocacy assistance to the ‘Justice for Magdalenes’ group (now JFM Research, www.jfmresearch.com), playing an instrumental role in bringing about the Irish State’s apology to and redress scheme for Magdalene Laundries survivors.  Dr O’Rourke continues to work with Magdalene Laundries survivors towards obtaining all elements of the promised redress scheme.
  • In 2015 with Claire McGettrick, co-founder of JFM Research and Adoption Rights Alliance, Dr O’Rourke established an initiative with global law firm, Hogan Lovells International LLP, entitled the ‘Clann Project’ (www.clannproject.org) The ‘Clann Project’ has assisted over 80 individuals to provide written witness statements to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, has published extensive legal analysis of the human rights issues raised by Ireland’s 20th century system of family separation and its continuing effects, and continues to build a publicly accessible archive for accountability, education and memorialisation purposes. 
  • Dr O’Rourke has received national and international recognition for her pro bono human rights lawyering, including being named UK Family Law Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 2013 and receiving the Public Interest Law Network’s Local Pro Bono Impact award in 2018. 
Dr Maeve O’Rourke

  • Professor Phil Scraton
  • Professor Phil Scraton PhD, DLaws (Hon), DPhil (Hon) is Professor Emeritus, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast.
  • Professor Scraton has held visiting professorships at Amherst College, USA, the Universities of Auckland, Monash, New South Wales and Sydney.  Widely published on critical theory, incarceration and children/young people his books include: In the Arms of the Law – Coroners’ Inquests and Deaths in Custody; Prisons Under Protest ‘Childhood’ in ‘Crisis’?; Hillsborough The Truth; Power, Conflict and Criminalisation; The Incarceration of Women; Women’s Imprisonment and the Case for Abolition.  Co-author of reports for the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (Children’s Rights) and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (Women in Prison). 
  • Member of the Liberty Advisory Committee on deaths in custody, Professor Scraton led the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s research team and was principal author of its ground-breaking 2012 Report, Hillsborough.  Seconded to families’ legal teams throughout the 2014-2016 inquests, in 2016 Professor Scraton published a revised edition of Hillsborough: The Truth.  Consultant on, and contributor to, the 2017 BAFTA winning ESPN/BBC documentary Hillsborough, Professor Scraton holds a Leverhulme Fellowship addressing the unique work of the Hillsborough Independent Panel and the legal processes that followed.  In 2018 at the University of Sydney he co-convened community-based research programme on coroners’ inquests into deaths in custody and during arrest. 

Most recently, as lead researcher he co-authored the widely acclaimed Irish Council for Civil Liberties Report: Death Investigation, Coroners’ Inquests and the Rights of the Bereaved (published April 2021).

Having refused an OBE, Professor Scraton was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in recognition of his Hillsborough research.

Professor Phil Scraton

The Research Assistant for Truth Recovery Panel members is Ms Darcy Rollins.

Darcy Rollins is a law graduate who graduated from the University of Bristol in 2016 where she was Vice-President of the Pro Bono Society and a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers. Since then she has provided representation and advice in social security tribunals with the Law Centre NI in 2016 and 2018 acting in appeals challenging the Department of Work and Pension’s failure to award individuals with physical and mental health problems their correct entitlement.

Darcy worked as a paralegal at Phoenix Law, a human rights firm, from February 2019 to September 2020 before leaving to train to become a barrister at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. While working at Phoenix Law, Darcy primarily worked in the civil litigation department assisting partner Claire McKeegan who represents SAVIA, the largest survivor group of those who suffered institutional abuse in Northern Ireland, individuals who had suffered clerical abuse, individuals abused in Muckamore Abbey hospital and other clients. She consulted with survivors of historical institutional abuse and clerical abuse on a regular basis taking detailed statements of their story to build their case. She also provided legal advice regarding the Historical Institutional Abuse redress scheme or the alternative route of a civil case. She also provided information about the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, its findings and, prior to the implementation of redress in March 2020, the struggle to get redress implemented. She assisted with establishing over 300 redress claims and setting up cases prior to the opening of the redress scheme and lodged many applications before leaving in September 2020.

Darcy also continued to provide support and advice to individuals challenging their PIP entitlement, particularly HIA clients who suffered serious mental health issues and had been denied their entitlement.

Darcy also consulted on a range of other matters including individuals who required injunctions, individuals challenging the state via judicial review and families whose relatives were abused in Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

Darcy Rollins