Mother and Baby Homes forum want full report published

Children's minister Katherine Zappone

Members of the Collaborative Forum on Mother and Baby Homes have expressed their disappointment at the Government's refusal to publish its full report.

The forum - which is comprised of former residents of the institutions and advocates and is separate from the Mother and Baby Homes Commission - began its work in July of last year and presented a report of almost 90 pages to children's minister Katherine Zappone in December.

However, Ms Zappone yesterday only published the recommendations of the forum - citing legal advice from the Attorney General. She said she intends to publish the full report after the Commission publishes its final report in February of next year.

The Irish Examiner understands that the decision to not publish the report has caused a considerable degree of upset among members of the forum. The group had worked on the report and its recommendations for almost one year - with some members flying in from the US on a monthly basis for meetings.

The forum was requested to attend a meeting with Ms Zappone on April 3 where she informed them that report could not be published in full on advice from the Attorney General.

The report is believed to be extremely critical of a number of agencies including Tusla which holds a large number of records in relation to former Mother and Baby Homes.

It is understood that one member of the forum sent a resignation email to Ms Zappone in recent days in protest at the decision not to publish the report in full.

"I have lost all faith in the forum and I couldn't agree to recommendations being released without the backing of the report we worked so hard on," she said.

In a foreward to the recommendations, forum members stressed that only the publication of the full report can allow the basis of its recommendations to be heard and understood.

Those recommendations include a package of health and well-being measures for survivors, a memorialisation programme and a research project on language and terminology used to describe the reality of Ireland’s treatment of certain groups of mothers and children.

The forum has also called for the scrapping of the Government's planned Information and Tracing Bill and its replacement with an alternative “Identities and Personal Information Bill”.

It has also called for the creation of a "one-stop-shop" to house records from across State, religious orders, county and other sources so as "to enable access to identity, personal and institutional information by any person separated from their family of origin, or detained in State-funded or regulated Institutions".

Ms Zappone said that a package for health and well-being measures which will be brought to Government for approval in September.

However, the Minister stated that she will only seek to amend the current Information and Tracing Bill.

I am pleased to receive the comprehensive list of recommendations, and I intend to publish the full report after the Commission of Investigation completes its work, subject to any further advices [sic] of the Attorney General at that time.

"I have sent a copy of the full report to the Commission of Investigation," she said.

Meanwhile Ms Zappone will publish a key report on burial practices at Ireland’s main mother and baby homes this morning.

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