Taoiseach doesn't rule out Mother and Baby home apology

The Taoiseach said that he "did not foresee any barriers" to the publication of the report, which he said he hoped would be done "as soon as possible".
Taoiseach doesn't rule out Mother and Baby home apology

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who said he did not want to pre-empt an apology but also did not rule one out. Picture: Julien Behal Photography/PA

The Taoiseach has not ruled out a public apology to survivors of Mother and Baby homes, but says he will not pre-empt such a move.

Micheál Martin was speaking as Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman prepared to take delivery of the final report of the Commission of Investigation into the homes.

The 4,000-page document will be given to the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and An Garda Síochána, who will all have the chance to comment before it is published.

Asked if he planned to issue a State apology for the treatment of those in the homes, Mr Martin said that his government would read the report, then react.

“We certainly won’t be found wanting in terms of a comprehensive response,” the Taoiseach said.

“I’m ruling nothing out at all, but I’m very conscious that it’s a wider societal issue as well."

The Taoiseach said he would "look at the report itself" and there will be "a very comprehensive response". 

"I don't want to, obviously, pre-empt the report itself, I'd like to read it myself," he said.

The whole purpose of establishing the commission was to tell as comprehensive a story as possible about what I regard as a very shameful and dark, dark period in our country's history.

The Taoiseach said that he "did not foresee any barriers" to the publication of the report, which he said he hoped would be done "as soon as possible".

“My understanding is that it’s over 4,000 pages long and that suggests a very comprehensive review by the commission," Mr Martin said. 

"That story deserves to be told and needs to be told and shared with the people of Ireland. That’s my objective."

Mr Martin said that he had had "constructive conversations" with groups involved with the homes regarding outstanding issues related to access to the archive

The Taoiseach also reiterated his commitment to establishing a centre to house the documents and tell the story of the institutions.

"It would be not just a repository but that facility or the building would be a building where the story would be told on an ongoing basis to future generations, and would be available to academics and researchers as well," he explained. 

"And the government is committed to making such a centre a reality. And that would obviously connect them with the National Archives as well, so that we'd have a very modern facility to enable people to access records, not just on a personal level, and also in terms of from an academic perspective, or just simply for the general public to have some sense of what happened in various periods in the past and various centres and various institutions. 

"That would, I think, enable people to understand what the survivors and those who went through these institutions, actually went through. That's our agenda."

Sinn Féin has said there should be no "undue delay" in publishing the report.

"I am extremely concerned that survivors of Mother and Baby homes will have to wait an undue period of time to view the final report", its spokesperson on children Kathleen Funchion said, adding: "This process must be expedited."

The report will be published after it is reviewed by the Attorney General.

It will include the testimonies of people who lived and worked in 14 Mother and Baby homes and four County Homes between the 1920s and the 1990s.

The Commission will dissolve at the end of next February.

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