Thursday, 17 January 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
Has the commission of investigation asked for an extension of time? If so, when was the request made, how was it made and how long has the Minister known? I ask these questions in the knowledge that four and a half years ago, in July 2014, the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy James Reilly, announced that Judge Yvonne Murphy would chair the commission. The terms of reference were set in February 2015 and here we are four years later. There have been three interim reports, the first of which requested a change in the time for the publication of the two reports, namely the confidential committee report and the social history report. From day one, there was confusion and delay. The third report asked for extension of time. While it caused real upset then, people accepted the assurance that the report would be published in February of this year.
I remind the House that this commission has come about on the backs of those who attended mother and baby homes, particularly the home in Tuam, which gave rise to this commission and where the remains of almost 800 babies and infants were found. The struggle of people on the ground, many of whom were outside yesterday, forced us into action. None of this was proactive on the part of the Government. All of this was reactive. Subsequent to what we found out in Patsy McGarry's newspaper report earlier this month, it was claimed on the Department's website that "reports in the media did not come from this Department and the speculation contained in these reports is inaccurate". What specific inaccuracies are there? Has an extension been sought? If so, when and why was it sought? I will await the Minister's answer before I give my opinion.