Speaking in the Dáil today in relation to the report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, Social Democrats spokesperson for Children, Jennifer Whitmore TD, said:
“The responsibility to redress the grievances of survivors now lies with the State. The process of redress, if done right, will take time to fully reconcile us with this dark past. However, there are things the Government can do in the short-term to begin the redress process and rectify the trust it has lost with survivors.
“A redress scheme must be survivor-centred first and foremost, be transparent and encapsulate the scale and breadth of the wrong that was done by church and State.
“To do this, the Government must learn from past mistakes when devising previous redress schemes, many of which have re-traumatised survivors while further eroding trust with State institutions.
“Not only should the financial needs of survivors be met, but also their health and social wellbeing which have all been compromised due to their past experience in a mother and baby home. At a minimum, it is imperative that survivors are given access to the HAAC (Health Amendment Act Card) which will provide them with an extensive range of medical services.
“If the Government is to avoid repeating past mistakes, it will require institutional changes – including expanding the remit of State agencies, resourcing key services and significant legislative reform to facilitate redress.
“The advancing of legislation, including the Information and Tracing Legislation to pre-legislative scrutiny in 2021, is welcome. However, it must comprehensively reinforce the GDPR rights of survivors. I am also calling on the Minister to compel religious institutions to hand over documents to the State and for the nationalising of all data and records in relation to mother and baby homes.
“The church must also match any apology with a meaningful contribution to a redress scheme. We can no longer tolerate a situation that allows the church to walk away from its moral and financial responsibilities, as it has with previous redress schemes.
“Rebuilding trust needs to go beyond words and this Government will be judged by its response to this report. We owe it to the survivors of mother and baby homes that their needs are put first and their voices are heard above all others.”
January 20, 2021