The request was granted by the Government on foot of a request by the commission in its third interim report.
In that report, completed in September, the commission notes while there are “detailed death records available” in relation to mother and baby homes, there are also “significant gaps” in the information available about the burial s of babies who died in a number of the institutions it is examining.
“The Commission is continuing to make inquiries about burials and burial records but it appears that this is an area in which it will be difficult to establish the facts,” states the report.
The report also acknowledged “significant gaps” in available records, noting there was one institution for which records are “probably not available” and another whose records may be available but are “very difficult to extract from a larger collection of records”.
However, the Irish Examiner understands progress has been made on the records and the commission will be able to resolve the issue of extracting the records which are part of a larger collection.
Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors (CMABS) said he was “horrified” at the delay and many survivors would die without seeing truth or justice.
“Many hundreds of Survivors have died since the Tuam 800 story broke in May 2014. Hundreds more are now doomed to death without justice and truth because of this disgusting delay.
“CMABS demands that the Government and Taoiseach immediately acknowledge the well-documented abuse in Mother and Baby homes and offer an apology and interim redress to the elderly and dying survivors while there is still time. Shame on anyone who denies survivors truth and justice.”
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone announced her intention to establish a collaborative forum to support former residents in developing solutions to the issues of concern to them. This will run in tandem with the investigation.
Ms Zappone said the Government will invite the UN special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, reparation, and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo deGreiff, to visit Ireland.
Kathy McMahon of Irish First Mothers welcomed the time extension as a “practical and pragmatic” initiative but said there would be some disappointment at the delay.
“Mothers in our group are naturally disappointed that there will be further delay.
“But, under Minister Zappone, this process is at last properly involving those affected and also recognizing the international human rights context to the treatment of women in Mother and Baby Homes. These are heartening changes of approach by this Government,” she said.