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Survivors outraged as report on mother and baby homes faces delay

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Children’s shoes left at a protest outside Aras an Uachtarain after the law was passed

Children’s shoes left at a protest outside Aras an Uachtarain after the law was passed

Crispin Rodwell

Children’s shoes left at a protest outside Aras an Uachtarain after the law was passed

The Commission on Mother and Baby Homes' final report will be given to An Garda Síochána for examination and may not be published for weeks, it has emerged.

The Commission is due to submit its report to Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman this Friday.

However, the minister is expected to pass the report directly to An Garda Síochána and the Attorney General's office before he publishes the 4,000-page review of State and Church-run institutions.

Sources in the minister's department said it "could be weeks" before the Commission's report is made available to survivors or the public.

Debate

Last week the minister rushed the Mother and Baby Homes Bill through the Dáil to create a database of the Commission's work ahead of a deadline for publication this Friday.

The legislation sparked an emotional debate and has led to significant public criticism of the Government by survivors of the institutions and Opposition TDs.

Government TDs have been inundated with emails from angry voters over the controversy and what is seen as an attempt to seal records relating to the Commission's work for 30 years.

However, the Government insists victims will have access to their personal records once the report is published.

Fianna Fáil Junior Minister Niall Collins was criticised by mother and baby homes survivors for criticising what he called a "repulsive online campaign where some very nasty people are exploiting this situation and the vulnerabilities of some".

"Please do not let the online trolls and bullies peddle their fake news and lies unchecked," Mr Collins said in an email to constituents. Last night he claimed his comments were "twisted" and said the debate has been "hijacked".

"I was called a scumbag and a bastard, all that kind of stuff, and told 'I hope you die of Covid'," he said.

"The whole thing has been hijacked, and it is so regrettable when it is a sensitive and emotive subject."

Other TDs said their inboxes were full of angry correspondence and some constituency offices were also targeted by protesters.

One TD said a doll was sent to their office and another said they were told they would "rot in hell" in several emails.

Meanwhile, the Government is planning a short, medium and long-term solution to the issues raised by repressive institutions and homes after an upsurge in public alarm. A cross-party strategy will be developed to deal with all issues in what is a complex legal position surrounding the institutions.

Legislation is also being examined to make explicit the personal rights to information contained in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

There is also a plan to convert a former Magdalene laundry in inner city Dublin into a permanent memorial and museum.

The legislation signed into law by President Michael D Higgins on Monday allows for the transfer of records, with the Government previously advised by the Commission that records could otherwise be destroyed when it finishes its work.

A 2004 Act speaks of sealing documents for 30 years, but ministers are now considering legislation to spell out access to the Tusla records - while maintaining there can be no sealing for individuals seeking their own paperwork under GDPR.


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