Mother and Baby Homes Inquiry must be broad and inclusive.

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Children and Youth Affairs, Dáil Issues, Oral Questions

ORAL ANSWER on 25/09/2014  

To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will ensure that the terms of reference of the mother and baby home inquiry operate similar to the Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland where any survivor from any institution may contact the Inquiry and be heard.

   Clare Daly T.D.

  
REPLY.
The Government has undertaken to establish a Commission of Investigation into the concerns that have arisen in relation to Mother and Baby Homes. The decision to establish a Commission of Investigation into these matters received the unanimous endorsement of this House on the 11th June. Since this date, considerable progress has been achieved in advancing the necessary legislative and operational arrangements required to establish a statutory investigation. It is my intention to come back to both Houses during this Dáil term with a draft resolution to establish the Commission.  

The specific matters to be investigated and the appropriate range of methodologies to be utilised are being considered as part of Government’s deliberations on the Commission. The broad range of issues and concerns raised with my Department with regard to the proposed Commission’s terms of reference are being given consideration in arriving at an overall scope for the Commission which is workable and effective. 

One of the key conclusions of the Inter- Departmental report published on the 16th July was that an opportunity for those who were mothers or children in Mother and Baby Homes to input their experiences should be developed.  This is recognised as requiring considerable and careful planning taking account of previous learning from similar processes in earlier investigations.  It is important that any such process should be as sensitive and non-adversarial as possible, consistent with the requirements of natural justice and the provisions of the Commission of Investigation Act 2004. As the Commission will be addressing matters which touch on areas of great personal sensitivity it will be necessary that appropriate protocols be adopted which protect the confidentiality of sensitive personal information. 

More generally, our approach should have regard to the facts established through recent inquiries into related institutions, and the general experience gained in conducting similar investigations into matters of public importance. Establishing an investigation which is capable of delivering on public expectations and effectively addressing these important matters in a sensitive and timely manner must be our primary concern.

QUESTION NO:  21
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Dr. James Reilly)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for ORAL ANSWER on 25/09/2014  

 
 To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will initiate a comprehensive examination of the State’s treatment of women and their children born outside marriage, rather than a narrow inquiry into certain mother and baby homes in the interests of full justice and accountability for these citizens who were gravely wronged.

Clare Daly T.D.

  
REPLY.
This Government is committed to establishing a comprehensive and effective Commission of Investigation into matters relating to Mother and Baby Homes in accordance with the Motion passed in this House on the 11th June last.

This Motion focused on a number of specific concerns, including that Dáil Eireann“acknowledges the need to establish the facts regarding the deaths of almost 800 children at the Bon Secours Sisters institution in Tuam, County Galway between 1925 and 1961, including arrangements for the burial of these children; acknowledges that there is also a need to examine other “mother and baby homes” operational in the State in that era and recognises the plight of the mothers and children who were in these homes as a consequence of the failure of religious institutions, the State, communities and families to cherish the children of the nation in the way they should have been cherished and cared for”.  

Considerable progress has been achieved since this Motion was passed to advance the necessary legislative and operational arrangements to establish a statutory investigation.   The specific matters to be investigated are being considered as part of Government’s deliberations in order to finalise an overall scope for the Commission’s investigation which is workable and effective.

The Inter-Departmental Group’s Report on Mother and Baby Homes, which I published on the 16th July, has served to stimulate and further inform public debate on these important matters. Given breadth and scale of the issues identified in the Report, and our experience of previous statutory inquiries, the importance of providing the Commission with precise terms of reference should not be underestimated. Discussions in this regard are on-going with my Government colleagues and the Attorney General with a view to finalising our deliberations in early course.

As part of the process it is my intention to arrange further opportunities for engagement with key stakeholders in order to update them on the emerging issues and seek their further views.