Dáil to debate Bill which would seal testimony of abuse victims for 75 years

Dáil to debate Bill which would seal testimony of abuse victims for 75 years
Education Minister Joe McHugh

Controversial new laws to seal the testimony of those abused in residential institutions for 75 years are to be debated in the Dáil tomorrow.

Over two million documents from redress bodies would be sealed and held in the National Archives under the legislation being brought forward by Education Minister Joe McHugh.

Catríona Crowe, the former head of special projects at the National Archives of Ireland has said a "dangerous and unnecessary precedent" was being set through the Retention of Records Bill 2019, which blocks access to records from the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee for 75 years.

But a spokesman for Mr McHugh stressed that the legislation would "strike a balance" between protecting those who gave difficult and personal accounts and ensuring that the public in years to come can learn from what happened to ensure such abuse never occurs again.

He said those who gave testimony did so on the basis that their accounts would be destroyed but the Bill would allow for that testimony to be retained in full.

The spokesman added that a clause had been inserted into the Bill to allow for a review of the decision to seal the documents by the Government in 25 years time.

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