Thursday, 3 June 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Leo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
I thank the Deputy. I want to be careful with my remarks because, as the Deputy said, it is a sensitive issue. I know many survivors have been very upset by what they read today and yesterday, coming out of this academic seminar in England.
The Government decided we should carry out an investigation into what happened in mother and baby homes and, as the Oireachtas, we united to agree terms of reference for that commission, which has made its report. To my mind, what happened after that was not acceptable. Essentially, the report was left on the desks of the Government and Oireachtas Members alike. The commission's members did not engage with the Oireachtas or the survivors either to explain the report, tell us how they came to their findings or answer any questions. That was not the correct course of action on the part of commission members. That has now been compounded by the fact that one of the commission members felt it appropriate to do exactly that in an academic seminar. That was disrespectful to the Oireachtas and particularly to survivors and their advocates.
It is now necessary for the commission members to come before an Oireachtas committee as they have been asked to do. They should do so without delay and allow us, as Oireachtas Members, to hear from them why they came to the findings they did and answer appropriate questions. This should be done in non-adversarial way. It should happen now. They should also have a similar engagement with the survivors. It was done previously for reports of this nature, including the Ryan, Scally and McAleese reports. Perhaps they did not have the same legal structure but the same essential process was followed that people commissioned to make a report by the Oireachtas were willing to explain that report to the Oireachtas and the people who were the subject of that report, namely, the survivors and those involved. Given that this academic symposium happened yesterday, I can see no excuse or valid reason for the commission members not to be willing to do this without delay.