Mother and baby homes law to be re-examined

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman has committed to a “re-examination” of the controversial mother and baby homes legislation after saying it is “impossible to ignore” the thousands of letters that he has received on the issue.

He said there is an “obligation to look beyond the legal process” and that he will engage the Attorney General and legal academics, the Irish Examiner reports.

The Dáil debated amendments to the Commission of Investigation into the homes which would result in the testimony of survivors being sealed for 30 years – a move that has been met with widespread criticism.

Social Democrat Holly Cairns said: “The commission was set up after over 700 babies were found in a septic tank in Tuam. I couldn’t think of anything worse, yet here we are; instead of talking about justice we can give to survivors, we’re denying them access to their own information.

“The state treats this as a scandal to be contained. The bare minimum the state can do is to consider what impact legislation will have on survivors. We know it compounds trauma for so many. That they deserve more is an understatement.”

“At this point if the legislation is pushed through, whose interest are you protecting? Because it isn’t survivors.”

The government, however, maintains that the bill must be passed to enable the preservation of the records.

Fianna Fáil faces an internal struggle over the legislation. An email sent to the parliamentary party by Senator Erin McGreehan said the debate on the issue has “proved difficult mainly because the campaign by vested interests trying to make a commodity of the survivor’s stories”.

Ms McGreehan said: “The reason people are hesitant was because of the email campaign saying that people’s records would be lost forever and not able to find their families, it was all a misrepresentation.

“I feel there has been some vested interests, not in the interests of all. For instance, the Sean MacDiarmada archive; the biggest home in the country was in Cork, the women and children still alive are not rich, do not go to Dublin ever. Why should they have their stories in Dublin, when their story is alive and well and living in Cork? That’s an example of a vested interest, it needs to be more inclusive.”

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