News & Media

Mother & Baby Homes Bill’s passage highlights continued need to engage with survivors

23 October 2020

Statement by Senator Ivana Bacik
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration
Ivana-Profile-2

Speaking on the passage of the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill 2020, Labour Group Seanad leader and Spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality & Integration, Senator Ivana Bacik has highlighted Labour’s concerns about the legislation. She also highlighted the need for thorough debate on the Commission’s report once it is published, as well as the need to provide enhanced supports for survivors.

Senator Bacik said: 

“I, like many others, have been deeply disappointed by the manner in which the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes) Report Bill has been rushed through the Oireachtas by the Government.

“While appreciating the important work of the Commission of Investigation on the Mother & Baby Homes, we never heard a clear rationale as to why this Bill needed to be passed so quickly through both Houses of the Oireachtas. In our view, a short extension of time could have avoided a great deal of distress to a large number of people, and would have facilitated parliamentary scrutiny and debate so that the many concerns we had about the Bill could have been addressed more effectively. In particular, more time was needed to address the reports this afternoon about the serious issues the Data Protection Commissioner has raised about the 30 year rule contained in the 2004 Commissions of Investigation Act. 

“Although Minister O’Gorman did not accept amendments from the Dáil, I did welcome his accepting of some proposals submitted from the Seanad. In particular, I welcomed his confirmation in response to a Labour amendment that an index would be provided to the database.

“The outpouring of distress and dismay expressed by so many survivors and families during the course of debates on the Bill will have demonstrated to Government the importance of positive engagement with those affected on such sensitive topics such as this. I hope that we can work constructively from this point onwards to secure better outcomes for the many persons who have experienced institutional abuse in Ireland.

“Following the passage of this Bill today, I am calling on Minister O’Gorman to ensure that, once the Commission’s report has been published, it be given adequate time for debate within the Oireachtas and beyond. Moreover, I am calling for enhanced supports to be put in place for support organisations, and for survivors and their families, who have put forward their concerns so eloquently during the course of this bill’s rapid passage through the Oireachtas.”