In the Dáil.
Minister for Children Katherine Zappone made a statement on Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation.
During her statement, Ms Zappone said she has appointed forensic archaeologist Niamh McCullagh, who carried out the preliminary excavations in Tuam, Co Galway, to lead a team of international experts to advise the commission.
She said the team – whose terms of reference she is publishing today – will carry out further geophysical surveys to examine “the extent of potential burials on the site”.
The minister said she will receive an initial technical report by the end of June, while a more detailed report on options for the future of the commission will be submitted to her by the end of September. She said the reports will be available to the public.
Starting from July, on the first Friday of every month, Ms Zappone said she will publish a monthly update on her department’s website.
And she said she’s appointed an “experienced, qualified facilitator with an international reputation” to help her hold a series of consultations with former residents of the homes who were in the homes without their mothers.
An open invitation to these consultations in Dublin and elsewhere – depending on the expressions of interest – will be sent out tomorrow, she said.
Further to her previously announced idea of establishing some kind of a truth commission, Ms Zappone also said she will be inviting the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence Pablo de Greiff, from Columbia, to Ireland.
She said, over the summer, she will undertake a “scoping review” in relation to possibly extending the commission’s terms of reference.
Readers will note Ms Zappone said in March that she would be carrying out this same scoping exercise.
Finally, she said:
“I sometime wonder, if I’m around in 2027 or 2037, what will they say, on Reeling In The Years about 2017. Will it be the year 2017, that the international media descended on Tuam as we, once again, declared our outrage at past deeds. Or will it be a year where we faced up, womaned up and maned up and decided that we will do things better.”
“This is a defining moment for us. As a member of Government, and the only Independent woman in Government, I feel a huge sense of responsibility to begin to heal the fractured trust between our citizens and our State. It is a time that someone shouted stop, it is a time that we all shouted stop and I believe that a model of transitional justice will help us move forward with that. “
Catherine Connelly said:
“I’m extremely concerned about the distinction you’re drawing between children who were in the homes with a mother and without a mother. I believe you are misinterpreting, either deliberately or unintentionally, the report that was done by the commission.
“On page three of your speech today, you’re going to set up consultations with those who were resident as children without their mothers.
“I think that is a shocking distinction, maybe I’m misreading it, perhaps you can explain it. I believe that you’ve taken that, inappropriately from the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation where the commission simply, in their interim report, and I believe the motivation for the interim report was to draw attention to the way that this government and previous governments have dealt with the mother and baby homes and left them outside of the redress scheme most unjustly.
“And they made the point that children without mothers had a particular grievance, they did not say that babies who were in there with their mothers should not be included.”
Dáil proceedings can be watched live here
Previously: ‘I Have Had Many Grown Men Cry In My Presence’