Minister to publish interim report into mother-and-baby homes

Minister to publish interim report into mother-and-baby homes

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has confirmed she will publish the interim report into mother-and-baby homes by the end of this month, writes Elaine Loughlin.

It comes after numerous calls in the Dáil to make public the Commission's second interim report, which has been with the Minister since September.

During Dáil statements this morning on the scandal of the Tuam mother-and-baby home, Katherine Zappone said she acknowledged the calls made since Friday for an expansion of the terms of reference to cover all institutions, agencies and individuals that were involved with unmarried women and their children.

She confirmed she would announcing the detail of a scoping exercise to see if all institutions could be included in the inquiry in the coming weeks.

"What happened in Tuam is part of a larger picture," she told the Dáil.

She said even before the commission confirmed the existence of the bodies of more than 700 children buried in chambers in the Tuam home, people were aware of it and "what was happening in these institutions was not without the support of many pillars in society".

Ms Zappone said: "Lest we contend that people did not know what was happening, let us remember that some members of the House spoke out against it."

She cited Finance Committee debates of July 1953 during which it was said that putting unmarried mothers in county homes to effectively involuntary labour was an act of "revenge".

"This history may be dark, but it was not entirely unknown.

"We must acknowledge that sometimes it was fathers and mothers, brothers and uncles, who condemned their daughters sisters, nieces and cousins and their children to these institutions, And sometimes it was not."

Ms Zappone spoke of "transitional justice" which the UN defines as a set of approaches a society uses to try to come to terms with a range of large scale past abuses.

"Taking a transitional justice approach means that we will find out and record the truth, ensure accountability, make reparation, undertake institutional reform, and achieve reconciliation."

The minister added: "It takes the brave testimony of survivors, long studied by historians and the dogged determination of investigative journalists to bring a spotlight to events which were previously only whispered about - in this case for generations."

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