New Mother and Baby homes legislation does not address all issues, admits minister

The German approach to the archiving of files of the Stasi secret police in East Germany was a potential model Ireland could explore, said Roderic O'Gorman.
New Mother and Baby homes legislation does not address all issues, admits minister

Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O'Gorman said he recognised the need to put survivors at the centre of the issue going forward. Picture: Julien Behal

Minister for Children Roderick O’Gorman has acknowledged that the new legislation in relation to Mother and Baby homes does not address all the issues involved and that the need remains for proper tracing legislation and a national archive for the records of the various reports and commissions.

"Better systems to secure the rights to early information will be required," Minister O'Gorman told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Mr O’Gorman said he had engaged with the Attorney General and his office since the legislation had been announced. 

On Monday October 19, Mr O'Gorman said he had been contacted by the Data Commissioner who raised the issue of GDPR which Mr O’Gorman had sent to the Attorney General’s office.

The Minister said there was a need for a national adoption archive to ensure that the records from the various reports and commissions were "properly managed with access for survivors and adoptees."

Mr O'Gorman also said that his department was looking at other systems elsewhere in the world. 

The German approach to the archiving of files of the Stasi secret police in East Germany, which allowed information to be revealed in an appropriate way, was a potential model Ireland could explore, he said.

Mr O’Gorman said that his department would also engage with the Data Protection Commissioner with regard to the tests that will have to be applied to allow access to the archive.

"The key priority was the right to access," he said. 

The Minister also said he would “absolutely” be willing to meet with groups representing survivors and adoptees and was at present in the process of engaging with such groups and their advocates.

He should have held more meetings before the legislation was brought before the Dáil. 

He said he acknowledged there was “a deep rawness” for survivors, but hoped that the “substantial range” of measures would be seen as a step to build back trust.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which was chaired by former Circuit Court judge, Yvonne Murphy, is due to hand over its 4,000 page-long final report to the Government on Friday.

Mr O’Gorman said the report needed to be published as soon as possible. 

"Additional resources had been allocated to the Attorney General’s office so the report could be read and published swiftly," Mr O'Gorman said.

“There is a desire across the Cabinet to get it published as soon as possible.”

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