Review of testimony by mother and baby home survivors scrapped due to 'significant legal complexities'

The Children's Minister is due to appear before an Oireachtas Committee this afternoon, where he is expected to state that the international expert review was dropped because of "significant legal complexities"
Review of testimony by mother and baby home survivors scrapped due to 'significant legal complexities'

In June 2021, Roderic O’Gorman announced plans to bring proposals to the Cabinet to appoint an international human rights expert to re-examine the written testimony given to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission and report back this year.

An independent review of testimony provided by mother and baby home survivors was scrapped by the Government over fears it could have sought to "alter" or "interrogate" the findings of the Commission.

The Children's Minister is due to appear before an Oireachtas Committee this afternoon, where he is expected to state that the international expert review was dropped because of "significant legal complexities".

In June 2021, Roderic O’Gorman announced plans to bring proposals to the Cabinet to appoint an international human rights expert to re-examine the written testimony given to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission and report back this year.

However, the Irish Examiner revealed in August that this review of more than 500 testimonies had been scrapped.

In outlining his decision not to progress with the review, Mr O'Gorman will say that the "continuing influence of the legal framework provided by the Oireachtas to facilitate and direct the independent Commission’s work," must be recognised.

"Significant legal complexities would arise in seeking to facilitate an external review of accounts provided privately and in confidence within the robust legal framework of a Commission of Investigation.

"Government cannot, via a non-statutory process, retrospectively alter or interrogate the independent Commission’s findings or methodology. We must be upfront in relation to such complexities."

However, Mr O'Gorman will tell the Children's Committee that this does not prevent human rights experts, or others, from further analysis of these matters.

Mr O'Gorman will acknowledge the concerns expressed to him by survivors that their lived experiences have not been adequately reflected thus far.

"They do not see their words in the Commission’s report, they feel their voices were ignored," he will tell the Committee.

Mr O'Gorman will also state that the promised review could not fully respond to the concerns of those who were unhappy with the record of their testimony created by the Commission.

"It would not change the Commission’s report. And it would completely exclude those who had not engaged with the Commission."

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