Thursday, 18 November 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I absolutely agree with the Deputy that every person who spent any amount of time in these institutions was impacted, although I am not sure I agree that every person was impacted the exact same.
Certainly my engagements with survivors would suggest that people have different responses and reactions to the time spent in the institutions but I agree with Deputy Browne that everyone was impacted. It is the desire and intention of the Government, across the action plan and the 22 actions, to respond as best we can to the needs and desires of each and every individual survivor while also recognising that the needs and priorities of survivors are different across the approximately 58,000 survivors, both mothers and children, who we estimate are still alive today.
In respect of people who were boarded out, I want to make it clear that anybody who spent more than six months in a mother and baby institution and was subsequently boarded out will receive a financial payment and a medical card for the period of time he or she was in the mother and baby home. I want to make that very clear because I know there are thousands of such survivors who were in a mother and baby home for more than six months; often they were in such homes until they were four or five and then they were boarded out. The commission did not examine the process of boarding out in the level of detail that allows us to make broad awards in the way we are making them for those who lived in mother and baby homes. The commission did a detailed piece of work in examining the conditions across the mother and baby homes and county institutions.
In respect of the religious orders, I absolutely agree with the Deputy that it is right that they would make a substantial contribution. I will be meeting them in the next number of weeks to start the process of achieving that. I believed it was important that I get this scheme launched and that I advance both the birth information and tracing Bill and the institutional burials Bill. They were my priorities. I was never designing this scheme solely on the basis of the response of the religious institutions but it is essential, if their apology to survivors is to mean anything, that they contribute substantially. I will speak to Deputy Browne privately about the engagement we had previously on Sean Ross Abbey and those scans.