Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore will next week introduce the Social Democrats’ Dáil motion which seeks to extend the timeframe of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission by one year.

The Dáil motion was submitted in response to the revelation that 550 recorded testimonies of mother and baby homes’ survivors were destroyed by the Commission.

The Commission is due to wind up at the end of this month. However, there have been calls for this to be extended until questions surrounding this incident are answered.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson for Children, said:

“Another traumatic turn in a difficult journey towards seeking truth and justice has fallen onto survivors of mother and baby homes after they discovered that their audio testimonies have been destroyed by the Commission. There has been no explanation as to why this was the case, how this was done and if any testimonies are salvageable – or whether the Government has a role to play here.

“Some survivors have made complaints to the Office of the Data Protection Commission about this, as well as to gardaí. However, the Commission itself has refused requests by the Children’s Committee, of which I am a member, to answer our questions surrounding the destruction of this material.

“When the Minister did attend a Committee session this week, he failed to provide any further clarity and indicated that the Government was seeking legal advice from the Attorney General.

“We in the Social Democrats have a real concern that there is no legal basis for what the Commission has done here. We have written to the Office of the Data Protection Commission seeking an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this and the legality of such destruction under Article 6 and 9 of the GDPR legislation.

“Pending all the questioning and potential investigations into this act, we are calling for an extension to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission. There are concerns that if it does wind down, investigations cannot be fully carried out and questions will remain unanswered as a result.

“Our Dáil motion is a call to buy more time for survivors in their search for truth and justice.”

February 19, 2021

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