Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
Noel Grealish (Galway West, Independent)
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132. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the name and professional position that is, secretary general, principal officer and so on, of those members of the interdepartmental committee involved in the preparation of the Mother and Baby Home redress package; the basis of the exclusion of children less than six months in such institutions; if any form of acknowledgment, State apology and redress will be offered to the boarded out children; if he plans to make a statement on the plight of such former children who are now elderly survivors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59166/21]
Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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An Interdepartmenal Group (IDG) was tasked by Government with developing detailed proposals for a payment scheme for former residents of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions. The Government, having considered the proposals put forward by the IDG, have approved details of a Scheme called the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme.
The full membership of the Interdepartmental Group (IDG) is available as Appendix C to the IDG Report, which has been published on my Department’s website. The names and grades of the IDG members are as follows:
- Fergal Lynch (Chair), Secretary General, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
- Laura McGarrigle, Assistant Secretary, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
- Caitríona O’Connor, Principal Officer, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
- James Gibbs, Principal Officer, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
- Janet Lacey, Principal Officer, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
- Niamh Callaghan, Principal Officer, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
- Fionnuala Bourke, Assistant Principal, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
- Brenda Boylan, Principal Officer, Department of the Taoiseach.
- Pamela Carter, Principal Officer, Department of Health. Replaced by Catherine Bannon, Principal Officer, Department of Health.
- Valerie Hughes, Assistant Principal, Department of Health. Replaced by Angela Noonan, Assistant Principal, Department of Health.
- Teresa Fitzgibbon, Assistant Principal, Department of Education.
- Hugh Geoghegan, Assistant Principal, Department of Education.
- Christine O’Rourke, Advisory Counsel, Grade 1, Office of the Attorney General (alternate: Diarmuid Cunniffe, Advisory Counsel).
- Ben Mannering, Senior Claims Manager, State Claims Agency.
The Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme, as Action 20, sits as one element of the entire package of redress measures and supports set out in the Government’s Action Plan for Survivors and Former Residents of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions. This Action Plan is fully inclusive and responds to the diverse needs of all of those who are affected by the complex legacy of Mother and Baby Institutions.
In providing an overall response grounded in a wide variety of differing needs, the Government considered what would be the most effective remedy for all survivors of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions. For children who spent short periods of time in Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions, the overwhelming priority need which has been expressed is access to birth information and records. A lack of information about their origins is deeply troubling to many survivors and the remedy to address this is making sure that they have access to this information. Therefore, I have prioritised work on legislation that is going to achieve that aim, in the form of the Birth Information and Tracing Bill.
In the case of children who were boarded out, the State Apology delivered by the Taoiseach in January of this year includes the following acknowledgement:
"Children born outside of marriage were stigmatised and were treated as outcasts in school and wider society. Some children who were subsequently boarded-out experienced heartbreaking exploitation, neglect and abuse within the families and communities in which they were placed. This was unforgiveable. The sense of abandonment felt by many of these children is palpable in the witness accounts. The circumstances of their birth, the arrangements for their early care, the stigma they experienced and the continuing lack of birth information, is a terrible burden in their lives."
The proposals for the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme are designed to be non-adversarial and will not require applicants to bring forward evidence of abuse or harm suffered. The Scheme will consist of a general payment rising based on time spent in one of the institutions, so that those who suffered most from the harsh institutional conditions will receive the highest level of payment. Children were boarded out in a range of circumstances, in some instances from their own home when a family no longer had the means to care for them and from institutions other than a Mother and Baby or County Home Institutions. In addition, the abuses suffered were not experienced by all people who were boarded out as children and, so, could only be fully considered on a case by case basis. The payment approach in this Scheme does not cater for such individualised assessments. However, if a person was boarded out as a child and also spent time in a Mother and Baby or County Home Institution, they may be eligible for the Scheme in respect of the time spent in one of these institutions.
Other aspects of the Government’s Action Plan that provides support and assistance to those who were boarded out as children, include:
- Access to birth and early life information as part of the Birth Information and Tracing Legislation which is being advanced.
- Inclusion in the memorialisation initiatives being developed which will afford an opportunity for people to tell their story.
- The provision of an ex-gratia payment to reimburse anyone who was boarded out and had to pay inheritance taxes for farms which they inherited from their foster parents.
Furthermore, I intend to make arrangements for the provision of access to dedicated counselling supports through Tusla to those who were boarded out as children.