Thursday, 17 January 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
The commission of investigation into the 14 mother and baby homes - the term "homes" in that context sticks in my throat - and four county homes was due to report last February. Time was extended on the basis of the workload involved in investigating these institutions. Last year's interim report stated that the issues of living conditions, mortality rates, post-mortem practices, vaccine trials and practices in relation to placement for fostering and adoption involved time-consuming investigation and the Government extended time until February of this year. That had a devastating effect on survivors. Paul Redmond, chairman of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors, noted that the survivor community was elderly and dying and that many hundreds had passed away since the Tuam 800 story broke in May 2014. He was scathing about the delay. Last week, the bomb dropped that the commission had requested a further year before publication of its final report.
I ask the Minister to correct me if I am wrong, but my information is that the report was finalised in early December last and had been sent to the Attorney General pending transmission to the Minister and the Cabinet. I have also been informed that more files from the HSE have emerged which is why, potentially, a further delay is being sought by the commission. Survivors have been waiting anxiously for this report, as the Minister knows, and have been physically and emotionally shattered by the announcement in last week's newspaper. It was a cold and calculated way to inform survivors and their families. Some survivors in their 70s and 80s were outside the gates of Leinster House yesterday. They were cold and they were angry. It was a disgraceful way to treat these ageing people. Their rights and justice are being denied. Will the Minister please explain exactly what is happening and set out why there was no early warning of the proposed delay? These people are losing confidence in the Minister and her Government and in the commission.