Saturday, October 24, 2020

GREEN Party TD, Marc Ó Cathasaigh has issued a statement in relation to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission Records Bill that passed through the Dáil this week. Ó Cathasaigh was one of the 78 voters who opted to keep records pertaining to that time within Government for another 30 years. Sinn Féin have been vocal in their opposition to the controversial bill, while as expected FF and FG voted in the same vein as the Greens.

“I think it is only right to first acknowledge the deep hurt and trauma experienced, and still being experienced by the people affected by this issue. No other issue since I have become a T.D. has seen so many people contact my office, either by phone or by email, or indeed in person, and I have had a number of conversations with survivors about their experience. The period investigated by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission is a very dark chapter in the history of this country on which we have just begun to shine a light. More, and much more, needs to be done to deal with this terrible legacy.”

He made ample efforts to stress the role of this bill.

“This legislation is about protecting a database, and to stop it from being sealed. It’s about preserving invaluable information, not putting it beyond reach.

As part of its work, the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes created a database of every person to have passed through the main Mother and Baby Homes. Without passing this week’s legislation before October 30th, this database would have been redacted and rendered useless. We couldn’t allow this important information to be lost, which is why this legislation was needed urgently.

This legislation is not about sealing the archive. When the Commission was established in 2015, it was set up under the Commission of Investigations Act 2004. That was a decision taken by the Oireachtas at the time. That Act says that any archive created by the Commission has to be given to the Department for Children & Equality, before moving to the National Archives in 30 years’ time.

This Bill aims to protect and preserve the records of the Commission. It aims to grab a once in a lifetime opportunity to safeguard an invaluable database so that it is not destroyed, but, rather, can be used to support future information and tracing services.

There remains a huge amount of work to be done in addressing the awful legacy of Mother and Baby Homes and ensuring that survivors are given both justice and the information they deserve. But that is a complicated and difficult process that will need to be given time and space in the Oireachtas, and couldn’t possibly be addressed in the short space of time that was available before this database was to be lost. Minister O’Gorman has given commitments to come back to this issue and to engage with survivors and leading experts to find the best way forward with this important work.

However, this week we needed to act quickly and in the interests of survivors to preserve a vital record that would otherwise have been lost. I hope that this explains to people why I voted in the way that I did this week.”

Green Party TD Marc O Cathasaigh.

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