2nd Interim Report of the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes Published

KZ formal

2nd Interim Report of the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes Published

Katherine Zappone TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has today published the Second Interim Report

The Minister thanked the Commission for its important work and said:

“I want to deal sensitively with the matters raised by the Commission
to date.  The focus in this report is on children who were
unaccompanied by their mothers in Mother and Baby Homes and County
Homes.

I want to see what supports and services  can be offered to this
specific group now in the area of health and well-being.  The
Commission will continue its work and deal with issues affecting all
former residents in its final report, but for now I want to identify
how we can be of assistance to those who were left unaccompanied in
these institutions.

I am going to consult with those affected, and then bring proposals
to Government before the summer break.”

The Commission was set up to inquire into the conditions in Mother and Baby
Homes and County Homes in the period 1922-1998.   Following a short first
interim report last July, it submitted a second interim report in September
2016.  This deals with a number of issues that had come to its attention
during its work and analysis based on information collected up to August
2016.

In its interim report published today, the Commission:

–    suggests that the exclusion of children who were resident in Mother
and Baby Homes and in County Homes without their mothers from the
Residential Institutions Redress Scheme which was established in 2002
and has since closed, or a similar such scheme should be re-examined;

–    is satisfied that the institutions it is investigating are
‘unquestionably’ the main such homes that existed during the 20th
century, and does not currently recommend that other institutions be
investigated;

–    is not recommending any changes to its terms of reference at this
time but may recommend further investigations when its current
investigation is completed; and

–    does not make findings to date that abuse occurred in these
institutions, but notes that its work is not yet complete;

– recognises that people whose births were falsely registered have a
need to establish their identity but recognises that the false
registration of births is a very difficult issue to investigate
because of a lack of accurate records.

The Government has carefully examined the Commission’s recommendation
regarding redress, and has concluded that it is not possible to implement
it.  The Government is conscious that the Commission has made no findings
to date regarding abuse or neglect, and believes it would not be
appropriate to deal with the question of redress in advance of any
conclusions on this issue by the Commission.  In addition, the Redress
Scheme was complex to administer and often difficult for applicants.
Minister Zappone said:

“Over the past few months I have spoken to former residents and
survivors of Mother and Baby Homes and I am very sensitive to their
needs and concerns. I have consulted in great detail with the
Taoiseach, the Attorney General and other Ministers before we reached
this conclusion. Rightly, this took some time because I wanted to
look at every possible option in conjunction with my Government
colleagues.

The Government also waited for the Special Report of the Comptroller
and Auditor General on the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme
before reaching a final conclusion on whether the original scheme
should be re-opened to cover unaccompanied children who had been in
Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes.  The challenges for
Government in considering the recommendations of the Commission at
this interim stage of its work are clear from the findings of this
Report.

The Minister said that her focus now will be on assisting those who were
unaccompanied as children in Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes, with a
view to offering supports that will be of genuine and practical value to
them.  The Minister said:

“With this in mind, I will consult with former residents who were
unaccompanied in these institutions regarding the nature and type of
services and supports in the area of health and well-being that they
consider would be helpful to them at this stage.  I want to consult,
listen and learn.  I will conclude this consultation by the end of
June, and bring proposals to Government before the summer break, so
that we can have appropriate supports in place as quickly as
possible.”

In responding to the increased demand for access to relevant information,
the Minister confirmed that her Department is working with TUSLA to support
the provision of information to assist former residents who may wish to
establish when they resided in a Mother and Baby Home.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has asked Dr James Gallen of
the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, to assist by
mapping out a model of ‘transitional justice’ as a means of giving voice to
former residents of Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes. Dr Gallen’s
expertise in transitional justice will help to develop an approach which
can acknowledge the experiences of former residents and further enhance
public awareness and understanding of this part of our history.

As previously promised, the Minister will also carry out a scoping review
of the Commission’s existing terms of reference to see if amending the
terms of reference would enhance the existing work and help to resolve
related questions.

The Minister concluded:

“I believe that the Commission’s final report will be of key
importance to understanding the lives and experiences of those who
stayed in institutions of this kind.  We must give the Commission
space to conclude its work and to report its findings.  In the
meantime, I will take whatever action I can to address the issues
already raised.  I believe that this is the best way forward to deal
with what was a hugely difficult and sad time in our history”.

 

For further information please see https://www.dcya.gov.ie/viewdoc.asp?DocID=4179