There are serious fears that the members of the Mother and Baby Home Commission will resign en masse if its term is extended to allow for an investigation into the destruction of witness testimony.
Children's minister Roderic O'Gorman has so far dismissed the calls of survivors and campaigners to extend the term of the commission beyond this month to allow for a full probe into the matter.
It is understood that the minister recognises that there is nothing compelling the commissioners to remain on should the lifetime of the commission be extended, and he is now concerned about the possibility of a commission without commissioners in post.
Mr O'Gorman last week wrote to the commission asking for clarity around the wiping of recordings of 550 interviews without full transcripts being made, and queried whether they can be retrieved from any back-up digital files.
The commission has yet to respond to the minister, and has also refused to come before the Oireachtas committee on children to answer questions, claiming it would not be appropriate for them to engage with the committee.
There are now concerns in Government that the commission would take the view that they have fulfilled their obligations and would resign if their term is extended beyond February 28, when it is due to be wound up.
Survivors have said the final report does not reflect the personal accounts they provided to the confidential committee and have expressed anger that their recordings have been deleted.
In a letter to the committee on children ahead of his appearance at it today, Mr O'Gorman said: "I'm aware of recent calls from some advocates and public representatives for the timeframe of the commission to be extended to enable it to deal with concerns relating to its report, and its records.
"Any call to extend the timeframe of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes must have regard to the fact that the independent commission completed the inquiries it was established to conduct when submitting its final report last year."
He said a decision on any further action will be made when further information is received from the commission and the Attorney General.
"It is not clear at this point that an extension is, in fact, necessary to clarify these matters, or that extending the timeframe of the commission would assist in this regard," he said.
However, he also warned that "potentially complex legal and public policy issues" could arise in relation to any records that might be recovered.
Committee chairwoman Kathleen Funchion said she is anxious to hear the Government’s position on the report and the actions that will now be taken.
“There is a lot of hurt and anger among survivors at the conclusion that there is no evidence of forced adoptions or abuse in these homes, when this is clearly contradicted by the testimonies of those survivors," she said.