Thursday, 17 January 2019
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
It is an interim report.
There are procedures in terms of the establishment of the independent commission and the commission has requested an extension for the completion of its work. That request must be presented to Government, which must agree or not to it. Once that has happened, there will be the publishing of the report. That is the process and those are the procedures. I intend to do that at the next Cabinet meeting. When I have provided my Cabinet colleagues with the rationale for this, in addition to advising them of the discussions I had with Judge Murphy, which I sought as soon as I could subsequent to the presentation of that interim report taking account of the Christmas period, I will engage with my Cabinet colleagues and we will make a decision. We will let the survivors and those primary stakeholders know. I will publish the report and we will publish our decision. Those are the proper procedures. The Deputies will know then what is the rationale in that regard. I am happy to come back to the House and discuss those issues with them.
Second, as the Deputies well know, this is an independent commission and therefore there are certain things I can and cannot do. The commission has made this request and laid out its rationale. I am able to talk and have talked to it about that - I have spoken of that - to more deeply understand its rationale in this regard.
Third, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, I know the Deputies - who represent the people concerned very well - would acknowledge I also am aware of how awful and difficult this news is for these people to receive. I understand that. I will be able to provide the Deputies with the rationale with regard to the response, and my own response specifically to what they have said, next week after I have given that to my Cabinet colleagues.
The Deputies also will be aware that in my capacity as Minister, we have done some additional things in parallel to the commission of investigation, particularly because of the ways in which the Deputies have represented the interests of the people concerned and because I have also listened to their concerns. I have received a report from the collaborative forum we established from people who represent and were themselves residents within these institutions, which has met for a number of months. I note they suggest that they be called "institutions", as distinct from homes. The forum prepared a report, which I am considering and which is highly significant. I will bring it to Cabinet, as I said, and we will go through a process of responding to it. That has been happening in parallel to what the commission of investigation has been doing. That is in addition, as the Deputies will be well aware, to the lengthy process we took by way of responding to what has gone on in terms of the findings, in terms the remains of children in Tuam.
These are the matters that are in my domain and for which I have responsibility, and we have acted. Those matters have been happening alongside the work of the commission. I know that does not satisfy and it does not take away from the fact that the extension requested is for a year but in terms of what I am responsible for and what I can do to move in a proactive way, I believe we are progressing. I acknowledge it is because of the extraordinary advocacy of the survivors and their families as well as the Deputies' ability to represent their interests.