Mother and baby home truth probe set to be rejected

The Government is set to oppose an opposition motion this week advocating a truth commission to investigate mother and baby homes.

TDs will this evening debate Sinn Féin proposals for a truth commission, modelled on those of other countries, that would hear from survivors groups.

The motion proposes allowing such an inquiry “unfettered” access to documentation. It would also examine how people were treated in Magdalene laundries and industrial schools and allow for public or private hearings.

All mother and baby home sites would come under its remit and the inquiry would consider the State’s role in placing people there and in other institutions.

The motion, led by Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, is expected to be opposed by Government.

Sources close to Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said the proposals were “not as nuanced” as her own ambitions for a truth commission. She has initiated a scoping exercise around such a commission, but is awaiting contributions from historians, academics, and journalists, among others, before committing.

Elsewhere, a scheme to relocate flood victims will be discussed at Cabinet today. Families living in flood-prone areas could get large sums to help relocate under proposals from Sean Canney, the junior minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works. It is thought €2m may initially go towards the scheme, but Cabinet may expand it at a later stage.

The voluntary relocation scheme would apply to owners who cannot get insurance and whose home is badly damaged.

Meanwhile, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar will update colleagues on proposals to extend free dental and optician benefits to the self employed.

He will also suggest the Government not oppose a Labour bill in the Seanad, which proposes allowing same-sex partners to benefit from occupational pension schemes.

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