Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
115. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will consider revisions to the Mother and Baby Institutions payment scheme following the reaction of survivors and their families to the proposed details of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59775/21]
Since the publication of Commission's report, I have engaged extensively with survivors. This engagement has informed the wide-ranging Action Plan for Survivors and Former Residents of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions. The Plan is fully inclusive and responds to the diverse needs and priority concerns of all survivors. The actions are designed to support survivors in a number of ways and to contribute to healing and future wellbeing.
While the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme will benefit an estimated 34,000 people at a total cost of €800 million, it is just one element of the Government’s response to the country’s complex legacy of Mother and Baby Institutions and should not be viewed in isolation from the broader Action Plan. For those who spent short periods of time as children 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 this important aim, in the form of the Birth Information and Tracing Bill.
Consultation with survivors on the design of the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme also clearly showed that they wanted a Scheme that would be non-adversarial, simple and with a low burden of proof. This is what the proposals for the Scheme seek to deliver. Further to extensive and challenging deliberations, it was concluded that providing a general payment based on time spent in an institution, with no requirement to bring forward any evidence of abuse or harm was the best way to ensure that the Scheme causes no further trauma.
I have been given Government approval to bring forward legislative proposals on the basis of the Scheme as outlined and work has commenced in my Department on draft Heads of Bill. Through the legislative process, there will be further opportunities to examine any issues or concerns that have been raised in relation to the Scheme.