Exclusions from mother and baby home redress scheme 'will see cases taken in court'

Exclusions from mother and baby home redress scheme 'will see cases taken in court'

Children's minister Roderic O'Gorman admitted that there are survivors who are not happy with the terms of the redress scheme. Photo: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

The children's minister has been warned that there will "cases taken in court" if the Government does not change the mother and baby home redress scheme to include all survivors.

Roderic O'Gorman has been harshly criticised in the Dáil for excluding 40% of survivors from the proposed scheme.

The Opposition hit out at the decision not to include all survivors, claiming it is a "cost-saving measure" and an "accountant's decision", even if it is dressed up as something else by the Government.

An email campaign to politicians had been mounted ahead of tonight's Dáil debate, calling on Mr O'Gorman to amend the redress scheme.

Under the proposals, children who spent less than six months in mother and baby homes will not qualify for redress. Neither does it take into account those who were abused while boarded out.

Sinn Féin's Kathleen Funchion said there is no justification in "pitting survivors against each other", and her party would not be supporting the bill.

I have often said that it is difficult to know how to put price on any of this, but the very first thing you do is ensure you are not excluding somebody," she said.

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns said she initially thought the six-month clause was a "red herring" to deflect away from the low amounts which will be paid out to survivors who do qualify.

"I thought this would be definitely scrapped, the six-month limit, and we would all be talking today about the fact that you might get €3,000 or €5,000 or something like that for being separated from your parents at birth, you might get that for being incarcerated, for forced labour, for illegal adoptions, for all of the horrors, for illegal vaccine trials," Ms Cairns told the Dáil.

You would get more if you fell on a pavement. The entire thing is an absolute disgrace." 

She also warned that the scheme, in its current form, would be challenged in court.

People Before Profit–Solidarity TD Bríd Smith said she had been inundated with emails from survivors in recent days, many of whom have incredibly sad stories to tell.

"It is almost as if you can feel survivors gasping for air," she said. "This is their last chance for somebody to listen and do something for them.

"The anger is speaking to the minister, who claims that he is pursuing twin tenets of acting with kindness and doing no harm, but in their words, this scheme's exclusions are heaping abuse upon abuse."

Mr O'Gorman admitted that there are survivors who are not happy with the terms of the scheme.

However, he said in speaking to survivors, it is clear that many seek different things and a redress scheme is only one element in terms of the State's response.

"Many of those, particularly those who spend a shorter time in these institutions, place their focus on the issue on information on the fact that they have been denied their information for such a long period of time," he told the Dáil.

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