Mother and Baby Home survivors may still face long wait to get birth records

Mother and Baby Home survivors may still face long wait to get birth records

The Cabinet published the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes yesterday. Picture: Julien Behal

The Children's Minister cannot say when the survivors of Mother and Baby Homes will be given access to their personal records.

Roderic O'Gorman said it is "essential" that legislation is brought forward on information and tracing following the publication of the final report of the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation yesterday.

However, he confirmed that scrutiny on the new laws will only begin towards the end of the year.

Campaigner Catherine Corless said the slow progress of the Bill as "disheartening", describing it as a "very half-hearted effort" from the Government.

"I spoke to the Minister last September and he assured me that he had a team on it at that stage. working on the legislation and that it would be ready to go to Oireachtas. This can be done overnight for the banks," she said.

She said survivors of Mother and Baby Homes have been "hampered in every single way" in trying to obtain their birth certs and other records and said this must be urgently addressed.

Mr O'Gorman said he hopes to bring proposals around a redress scheme to Cabinet by April 30.

However, he said the wider piece of GDPR legislation will take much longer to introduce.

Roderic O'Gorman. Picture: Julien Behal
Roderic O'Gorman. Picture: Julien Behal

"I'll be prioritising that over the course of this year. I would hope to bring it to pre-legislative scrutiny this year and hopefully bring it into Oireachtas by the end of this year.

"What I've asked my departments and what I've asked the Attorney General to look at is bringing forward information and tracing legislation that's centred on the GDPR, that's centred on the right of an individual as provided for in GDPR to have information about themselves, vital personal information, and I want that to be at the basis of new legislation that we bring forward."

Meanwhile, he said his Department will be a position to address subject access requests coming into the department regarding personal information contained in the archive of investigations by the end of February.

Mr O'Gorman acknowledged that survivors believe that there isn't enough focus on the role and the failings of the state over decades to provide for the fundamental rights of the mothers who entered homes and the babies who were born there.

He told RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme that it is important that a "clear and unambiguous" apology is given to the women and their children as "the State and successive governments failed in any way to address this issue".

"I do think the fact that the the the Taoiseach, on behalf of the State, is making the apology today does make it very clear that this government takes responsibility on behalf of the State for the failings that are manifestly clear within this report," said Mr O'Gorman.

He said the Government has now set out 22 actions in response to the report and will be working to implement these.

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