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Data rights Galway students create resource to help Mother and Baby Home survivors access records

The project is part of a collaboration with Article Eight Advocacy, an independent non-profit organisation which advocates for data subject rights in Ireland

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The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was a mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970.  Niall Carson/PA Wire

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was a mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970. Niall Carson/PA Wire

The infants graveyard at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Tipperary, which was a mother and baby home operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 1930 to 1970. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Students in NUI Galway have created a resource to help Mother and Baby Home survivors access their personal records.

Postgraduate students in the Human Rights Law Clinic at the Irish Centre for Human Rights have released a guide that aims to help those affected to understand their information rights.

The project is part of a collaboration with Article Eight Advocacy, an independent non-profit organisation which advocates for data subject rights in Ireland.

The records formerly held by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes were transferred to the Department of Children on 28th February 2021.

GDPR legislation entitles everyone to a copy of their personal data and the Freedom of Information Acts enable people to request their relatives’ records.

Requests for these personal records can now be submitted to the Department and the guide helps those affected by Mother and Baby Homes and adoption to make requests to the Department for their records or those of their relatives.

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The National University of Ireland in Galway

The National University of Ireland in Galway

The National University of Ireland in Galway

The guide includes information on victims’ rights under GDPR and provides template letters that can be used to make a Subject Access Request under GDPR and a Freedom of Information Request to the Department.

The guide also contains template letters to make requests to Tusla and other organisations holding records, as well as information on where to send these letters and how to avail of any additional support services that may be required.

Annmarie Townsend, a student involved in the creation of this resource, said: “We hope the Guide will empower people to use their information rights to successfully obtain their records.

“This project is dedicated to all those affected by adoption and the Mother and Baby Homes, especially those who continue to struggle to access their records.”

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Loughlin O’Nolan of Article Eight Advocacy added: “Navigating the processes involved in exercising information rights is frequently made more difficult for individuals than it should be by public sector data controllers in Ireland.

“If this Guide goes some small way towards assisting people in doing that, and reminding data controllers such as the Department of Children that they have obligations which must be met then it will have been a success.”

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