Responding to the reports in the Irish Examiner that the government did not follow the Data Protection Commissioner’s (DPC) advice on the Mother and Baby Homes Bill, the Social Democrats spokesperson for children, Jennifer Whitmore TD called on the Minister for Children to immediately publish the advice given to the Department by the DPC.

Deputy Whitmore said:

“Despite consistently bringing to the Minister’s notice that there were serious data protection issues with the Mother and Baby Homes Bill, he persisted in rushing through the Bill in the Dáil this week.

“It now appears that the serious concerns which I and others raised on behalf of the survivors are valid: that the Minister’s plans as outlined in the Dáil this week around the transfer and storage of the archive from the Commission contradicts provisions of European and Irish Data Protection laws.

“I’m calling the Minister to immediately publish the advice which the Data Protection Commissioner gave to the Department of Children on the Mother and Baby Homes Bill as part of the Data Protection Impact Assessment.

“For full transparency on this issue, the Minster should also publish the timelines of all engagements between his Department and the Data Protection Commissioner, including when the advice was sought and provided by the DPC; the timelines of engagement with the Attorney General on the DPC’s advice and the development of the Bill; and to identify any changes which were made to the draft Bill on receipt of the advice of the DPC.

“This Bill has been guillotined through the Dáil this week without proper scrutiny. The Minister rejected all amendments offered by the Opposition, many of them seeking to rectify the problems in the Bill around data protection, which would have preserved access to the information in the archive  by those most impacted by it – the survivors of the Mother and Baby homes and their families.

“It is not acceptable or fair that survivors may now be put in the position of going to the courts to preserve their rights, rights that the Government should be upholding.”

23rd October 2020

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