Thursday, 3 June 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Alan Kelly (Tipperary, Labour)
I will raise a very sensitive matter this morning relating to the mother and baby homes. Yesterday I raised with the Taoiseach the decision of Professor Mary Daly, one of the members of the commission, to appear at an academic event in Oxford, having previously refused to come before the Oireachtas children's committee. She appeared at the event yesterday. Devastating revelations and evidence was given about what went on as regards the report and the recommendations from the commission. There is evidence that survivors' testimony given confidentially was not taken on board. This was clear to many once the report came out but we have now heard it from one of three people on the commission. This was discounted for very tenuous legal reasons.
I have a very clear question for the Tánaiste. Does he accept, based on what we now know, that the report must be repudiated? As Dr. Maeve O'Rourke of the Clann Project, a supporter of the survivors, said, we cannot accept this report. It is not valid, fully truthful, a historical record and accurate. The stories that were told in a confidential fashion by women who went through such suffering, with such a stain on our society and country, were not taken on board. This is not acceptable.
The Tánaiste sat beside the former Minister, former Deputy Zappone, but I have no idea what she was at. It is quite clear the construct of this commission was flawed from the beginning. These survivors - their lives, stories and honesty - needed to be reflected in the report but they were not. It is not like people were not asking questions over the years. In fairness to a former journalist, Mr. Conall Ó Fátharta, he asked all these questions numerous times over nine years and never got the answers. The commission did not spend half its budget and it did not, in interim reports, indicate these issues. It is completely flawed.
I ask these questions on behalf of a number of people who have always been in touch with me on this matter. Does the Tánaiste accept this report must be repudiated and the work should be done again? We may be able to use aspects of it but the report must be done again. Does the Tánaiste accept the construction of this commission was fundamentally flawed from the beginning, limiting the quality, comprehensiveness and accuracy of the report? Does he accept that Professor Daly appearing at the Oxford event yesterday has essentially retraumatised the survivors? Will the Tánaiste please stand up to represent those women and families who have been affected and give them hope that we can, as a country, do right by them once and for all?