Thursday, 18 February 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I cannot make that commitment here but I will take up the matter again with the Minister, Deputy O'Gorman. I do not know if it is possible to retrieve the audio recordings. Knowing the answer to that would be crucial at this point. The commission has said that each witness at the confidential committee was given a guarantee of complete anonymity, and for this reason the tapes were deleted. Recordings, the commission says, were used as an aid to create thematic records of each person's account, from which the final content was produced and published in the confidential committee report. The commission has repeatedly said that this process and the associated actions were carried out with the knowledge of survivors, although it is clear that many survivors do not share this view. I respect that and the Minister has been examining these matters closely. He has engaged with the commission itself as well as the Data Protection Commission, DPC, and the Attorney General on the matter. The possibility of an extension raises legal questions and has implications for the operation of future commissions. If the commission were to be extended while the archive was transferred to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, it is difficult to see how the DPC could carry out a proper investigation. To leave the archive with the commission would mean that it remains the data controller and would respond to subject access requests, bearing in mind that it has always refused to give these up until now. It would be responsible for the exercise of the right to rectification.