Social Democrats TD for Cork South-West, Holly Cairns, has welcomed confirmation from the Taoiseach in the Dáil today that all survivors of institutional abuse will be able to access their own personal data.

Holly said:

“Last week, the Government changed its policy to allow people access to their own information. The natural extension is that this would apply to the Ryan Report and McAleese archives, as well as the Mother and Baby Homes Commission.

“It is not just a matter of acknowledging this right – there needs to be action to facilitate people in accessing data relevant to them.

“I have also requested the Minister to engage with experienced data protection law experts, preferably to include international expertise, to assist the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Government in giving people their information.

“After recent events, trust in the Department’s legal knowledge in this field is understandably very low and it is crucial that the Minister takes a proactive approach. This process must be underpinned by person-centred legislation that recognises the Minister’s duties to disclose information and protect identity rights.

“It is essential that the Department is prepared to provide individuals access to its copy of the Commission’s archive and instruct all other holders of ‘historical’ abuse information accordingly.

“While the Minister did acknowledge the need for greater consultation with survivors and to work with the Data Protection Commission, he fell short of committing to bringing in independent experts who could work directly with him in his capacity as data controller.

“There are still unanswered questions about the Government’s handling of this matter – which caused much hurt and upset to survivors – and I have called on Minister O’Gorman to secure time in next week’s Dáil schedule to address them.”

November 4, 2020

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