The eleventh-hour discovery of backup recordings of survivors’ testimonies should not deter the Dáil from seeking a one-year extension to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, Jennifer Whitmore TD said today.

Speaking following the Dáil debate on the Social Democrats’ Private Members’ Motion calling for an extension, Deputy Whitmore said:

“The Government must not play games with our motion. If it is allowed to pass in the Dáil, it needs to be brought into effect immediately.

“If anything, the sudden recovery of the survivors’ recordings makes the need for the Commission to be extended even more justifiable. There are so many unanswered questions arising from this latest development – questions that cannot possibly be answered by the time the Commission is due to be dissolved in a few days’ time.

“We have been told that a sample of the 550 recordings have been tested and are accessible and audible. However, are survivors now expected to take that leap of faith that every single last testimony is available and are all intact? What happens in the coming weeks if it is discovered that some elements of the testimonies are, in fact, gone? Who answers to that and who is accountable then?

“The retrieval of this data is only one element of why the Commission needs to remain in existence. Many survivors do not believe that the Commission’s final report accurately reflected their lived experiences. Without transcripts of their testimonies, it going to be near impossible to prove that this was the case.

“In addition, if survivors choose to seek a judicial review in their search for justice, they will be stymied by the dissolution of the Commission on February 28. It will be impossible for them to secure answers from a body that no longer exists.

“It is clear from Opposition contributions today that there is widespread political support for the Social Democrats’ motion. If it is allowed to pass in the Dáil tomorrow, it must be followed up with immediate Government action.”

February 24, 2021

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