Wednesday, 15 June 2005
Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill 2005: Report Stage.
Olwyn Enright (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
I appreciate that as the Minister said, things have moved on. However, if the Department of Education and Science was again of a mind to be less than helpful to the commission, there is no guarantee this would not happen again. That is why we are trying to ensure it is moved.
I reject outright what the Minister said about delay. The most important thing is that we get this right. It is more than a year and a half since my party leader and I first raised the issue of moving this to the Department of the Taoiseach. Ms Justice Laffoy resigned in September 2003. If there has been delay, it certainly has not been on our part. We have waited a year and a half for this legislation to reach this stage. There was adequate time to make this change. There have been instances where legislation has been brought forward quite quickly on occasions when it suited the Government.
To cite that acceptance of this amendment would cause a delay is not a valid reason for not accepting it. It is important that tactic is not used. It would not necessarily have to take a long time for such a transition to take place. Such a transition would be in the best interests of the victims involved, of getting at the truth and of ensuring that the Department of Education and Science co-operates fully with the commission in the same way as would a witness giving evidence to it. However, that has not happened up to now, but we hope it will happen.
The Minister referred to other tribunals but this inquiry is different. The Department has made considerable discovery at this stage. However, we still must guarantee, through this legislation, that everything is done in the best possible manner. Moving responsibility for this matter to another Department is the best possible way of dealing with it.