Mother and baby homes commission granted extension

The Government has acceded to a request from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes for more time to complete its reports on foot of an unexpectedly large number of witnesses seeking to give testimony.

However, the decision is likely to fuel further anxiety among the ageing group of survivors who have seen many of their peers pass away.

It has also caused anger among the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivor groups, including survivors of illegal adoptions, for failure to extend the commission’s probe beyond the 18 institutions currently under scrutiny.

Last night Paul Redmond, spokesperson for CMABS, told RTÉ that it was a “slap in the face”, and that they were “devastated” and “deeply insulted”.

Mr Redmond was part of a group of protestors that picketed the commission’s offices last week seeking a broader investigation.

Yesterday, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said she “accepted” that the time extension granted to the commission would cause disappointment, but the reason for it would be communicated to representative groups whom she said she will meet with in September.

She said the new timeline will not delay Government response to the commission findings.

In a statement, Ms Zappone said: “The extension is to accommodate the large number of witnesses coming forward and to ensure that all new information discovered is accurately recorded to give a full understanding of the social history involved.”

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone

A second reason for the extension was due to fears a social history report would have “no long-term value” if it was based only on reviewing existing published literature.

The interim report issued yesterday by the commission was solely to request a time extension. All three reports that the commission is working on will now be published simultaneously in February 2018.

Under its terms of reference, the commission will investigate how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 State-linked religious institutions.

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