Records row Mother and Baby home survivors requesting access to personal records will have to pass 'two tests', says Roderic O'Gorman
Survivors of Mother and Baby Homes will be able to access their personal records provided they can meet two specific conditions.
Children's Minister Roderic O’Gorman has said that the Attorney General has clarified that access to individual records is possible.
He confirmed that due to GDPR concerns all individuals will have to apply for access to the Department of Children to see if they meet two specific conditions.
Members of the department will also have to assess if any restriction to access is necessary to safeguard the operation of the commission.
They will also have to decide on whether a restriction on access is necessary to protect the rights and freedoms of others named in the case.
While Minister O’Gorman said that this was a move that was welcomed by the survivors' groups, it is not a perfect solution.
“The Data Protection Commissioner raised an issue with respect to the 2004 Act,” he told Morning Ireland.
“We referred that query to the AG and the AG has clarified that the act does not preclude the consideration for data access by my department when we receive the archive from the commission.
"Any request still has to meet the requirements of GDPR, so we would have to consider does it impact on the rights of others.
“There are two tests, when as subject access request comes in, it has to be examined to see if the request would impact on the rights and freedoms of others.
“We will also have to assess if any restriction to access is necessary to safeguard the operation of the commission.
“This doesn’t answer all issues that have come up in the context of the debate over the last two weeks over access to information.
“This is a clarification of the application of GDPR to the database.
“I think it is significant for survivors with regards access to personal information. But as I have said, this itself doesn't address all the issues surrounding access to information.”
The final report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, which is due for completion and will be delivered to the Minister tomorrow, is set to be published in the coming weeks.
The 4,000-page report is set to give a forensic look at the systematic level of abuse that took place in these institutions in Ireland over decades.
However, while Minister O’Gorman said he was happy to meet with the various survivors' groups to discuss the new procedures, he warned that publication would not be possible until the Attorney General’s office had thoroughly digested the report.
“I am absolutely willing to meet with groups and I am in the process of arranging to engage with survivors' groups and advocates for them in the near future.
“I should have done more of that when the initial database legislation as being brought forward.
“There is a need to publish this report as quickly as possible.
“My department will receive the report tomorrow and we will also send it on to the AG.
“In order to speed up the process of reviewing the report it was agreed to give the AG’s office additional resources, so that the entire report can be analysed and published as quickly as possible.
“I am not in a position to give a specific date, but will emphasise that there is a desire across cabinet to publish it as quickly as possible.
“To do that we are giving these additional resources to the AG’s office to undertake a full review and publish the report. “