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Minister ‘determined’ State does right by mother and baby home survivors

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes submitted its final report last Friday after five years of work.

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Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he is ‘determined’ the State does right by the survivors of mother and baby homes (Oireachtas TV)

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he is ‘determined’ the State does right by the survivors of mother and baby homes (Oireachtas TV)

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he is ‘determined’ the State does right by the survivors of mother and baby homes (Oireachtas TV)

The Minister for Children has said he is “determined” the State will do right by the survivors of mother and baby homes.

Following recent controversies over the Government’s handling of the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission, Roderic O’Gorman said that Cabinet had agreed a series of measures to address the concerns.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes submitted its final report to Mr O’Gorman last Friday after five years of work.

The report, which stretches to 4,000 pages, will be published after it is reviewed by the Attorney General.

Mr O’Gorman told the Children’s Oireachtas Committee that the report will be published “as soon as possible”.

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Majella Connolly (front), an adoptee from the St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, joins protesters outside Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin, after President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law (James Ward/PA)

Majella Connolly (front), an adoptee from the St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, joins protesters outside Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin, after President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law (James Ward/PA)

Majella Connolly (front), an adoptee from the St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in Dublin, joins protesters outside Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin, after President Michael D Higgins signed the Bill into law (James Ward/PA)

There was a huge backlash from survivors, campaigners and opposition parties after the Government passed controversial legislation that would allow a database created by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission to be sealed for 30 years.

There has been a lot of confusion over the legislation and whether survivors will get proper access to their records.

“My hope is that these measures begin to rebuild the trust damaged over the past two weeks,” Mr O’Gorman told the committee on Tuesday.

He added there is a need for for more “openness, transparency and for understanding” of survivors.

Outlining some of his department’s key priorities, the minister added: “I am committed to introducing legislation to resolve the issues with the current architecture of Adoption Information and Tracing, which were again highlighted by the debate around the Mother and Baby Homes Database Bill.”

He said the legislative measures will require “detailed scrutiny”.

I am deeply disappointed and deeply uncomfortable with the entirety of how the matter was handledSenator Mary Seery-Kearney

The minister also said he is meeting with a number of survivors and groups this week.

Labour’s Sean Sherlock asked when the Information and Tracing Bill will be published.

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“When will the commission report be published, because I would not wish to deal with these issues until we see the report and its outcome?,” he added.

Mr O’Gorman said he has put extra resources in place to have the report published “as quickly as possible”.

“I think every legislative step will be influenced by that,” the minister added.

“I think the first piece of legislation will be the Tuam legislation in relation to the burials, I would hope to be in a position to bring a memo to Cabinet in November to gets a Heads of Bill agreed by Government.

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Pairs of baby shoes are hung from black ribbons on Gardiner Street in Dublin in memory of the children who died at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway (Niall Carson/PA)

Pairs of baby shoes are hung from black ribbons on Gardiner Street in Dublin in memory of the children who died at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway (Niall Carson/PA)

Pairs of baby shoes are hung from black ribbons on Gardiner Street in Dublin in memory of the children who died at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway (Niall Carson/PA)

“I am determined to ensure the issue of providing early birth information for adopted people and wider survivors of institutional abuse will be a key priority for my department next year.”

Senator Mary Seery-Kearney said that survivors and families have had a “long time of hurt”.

“I am deeply disappointed and deeply uncomfortable with the entirety of how the matter was handled, both in terms of the lack of consultation with survivors and the rush of the legislation through the House,” she added.

“The experience of knowing information about you is locked away in a box that you can’t get access to must be excruciating.

“I appreciate there are competing rights but we need transparency in that regard.”

Mr O’Gorman said: “My department will engage with the Data Protection Commissioner to flesh out the implications of that for my department and how we will treat each individual data access request.”

It comes as the minister announced the appointment of Orlaith Traynor as the chairwoman of the Board of the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

Ms Traynor has previously served as deputy chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland.

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