Friday, 19 February 2021
Report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation: Statements (Resumed)
I thank the Senator for his personal remarks. I appreciate them. I acknowledge the Cathaoirleach, who asked me to chair this debate. I consider that a great honour.
All Senators have received many emails and letters on this issue, as Senator Murphy mentioned. I received a very moving handwritten letter from Catherine Corless with several photographs accompanying it. I understand she wrote several handwritten letters. I wish to take this opportunity to single her out as a wonderful hero, champion and advocate on this issue. There have been many wonderful advocates.
A matter that came to my attention this week through correspondence and the media was the very moving apology by Councillor Mary Linehan Foley, the mayor of County Cork. She was in Bessborough and has walked this journey and struggled with it. She knows of the many disappointing setbacks along the way. She shared her emotion in her very moving apology. The Cathaoirleach of Galway County Council, Councillor James Charity, gave a very moving statement, as did many other cathaoirligh and mayors around the country.
Many people have various stories. I always say there is nothing unique but this situation is unique. We all have our own personal and unique story and in some way we have all been touched by this issue through our own lives or those of our brothers, sisters and loved ones. If we really dig down, we will all find that we share an interest in this issue.
I acknowledge the Minister in the context of what is a very difficult situation. The report makes for disturbing reading. As one who has travelled on this journey, I have significant regard for him. He has come with a clean pair of hands to this terribly sad situation. We have had three good, constructive and long sessions on this issue in the House, with 38 Senators contributing. I have no doubt we will revisit it. I thank the Minister for his time and for attending each of those sessions. The Order of Business states that the Minister shall have no less than ten minutes to wrap up. The House is scheduled to suspend at 3 p.m. I am not suggesting the Minister has to speak until then. I know he has ongoing engagements with Senators and Deputies.