Dan Boyle: Not Doing It For The Kids


From top: Attorney General Paul Gallagher’s advice on the Mother and Baby Homes Commission file sealing asserted that Commissions of Investigations were excluded from EU data protection laws; Dan Boyle

One of the briefs I covered, when a TD, was as an opposition spokesperson on Social and Family Affairs. A bill that came before the house was the Civil Registration Bill. This was seen as a tidying up in how births, deaths and marriages were being recorded.

Someone close and important in my life had been adopted. There were many things that bothered her about not having even the most basic life information. Among them was that all her public documents recorded her as being born in Dublin. All adopted people were recorded as being Dublin born.

One of the few facts she had ascertained about her birth was that she was born at the now infamous Bessborough centre in Cork. One of amendments I sought to have accepted was to correct this wrong. I was surprised, perhaps I shouldn’t have been, at the unwillingness to accept an amendment.

The Minister, supported by Fine Gael and Labour spokespersons, argued that to list place of birth on the documentation of an adopted person would give them a tool to discover who their birth parents might be.

Into the twenty first century such thinking continued to inform official thinking on this subject. Sadly to a large extent it still does. Adoption in Ireland has always been implied as a social rescue process.

Removing the young ‘fallen’ woman from the fruit of her ‘sin’ was the first purpose of this process. The child available for adoption was to be given a new identity, as if a participant in a moral witness protection programme.

During that same parliamentary session the Oireachtas also finished its consideration of the Commissions of Investigation Bill.

Introduced by the then Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, the bill’s intention was to have a more focused, more streamlined approach to investigations on matters of public concern.

Patience had been overly tested by the open tap to costs approach, that had existed with the Beef and Planning tribunals.

The bill outlined the establishment and more particularly the procedures that would be involved in the setting up commissions of investigation.

Among these procedures were processes to collect testimony confidentially.

A thirty year rule to archive the procedings of any established commission was put in place to protect this confidentiality.

This putting beyond use, and its length, could also be construed as protecting the guilty as well. The Oireachtas felt otherwise. The bill was passed without a vote.

Along with me in that Dáil are several current members of the Oireachtas – Sinn Féin, Labour, Social Democrat and Independent TDs.

Excluding Commissions of Investigation from GDPR, done through legislation passed in 2018, was a far more contentious matter. The opinion of the Attorney General that they can be and should be, is not an opinion I share, nor do I suspect do most people.

I’m hoping that the imminent publication of the report of Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes can become the key to unlock those rusting chains of shame that have denied so many for so long.

The pain of those denied is too deep and has been too prolonged. Only those who continue to experience this hurt know how this pain feels. The rest of us can only speculate. I fear that much of that speculation is intensifying the hurt. We need to be ending this hurt now.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator and serves as a Green Party councillor on Cork City Council. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle


12 thoughts on “Dan Boyle: Not Doing It For The Kids

  1. Joe

    End the hurt now?
    Do you really still not get it Dan?
    Eamon Ryan doesn’t either as he’s been in hiding.

    As soon as the utterances of the inept FFFG lickspittle Roderic O’Gorman began, his vile rejection of any of the numerous honourable amendments to the legislation, coupled with the obnoxious, smug, condescending tweets from the likes of GP TD Patrick Costello and shamefully for a woman, Mayor Hazel Chu, the adoptee survivors were being abused all over again by the Greenwash party. And not one of them have apologised for the sickening hurt caused by their wilful behaviour!

    They should resign a.s.a.p. They will be dumped anyway come the next election.

    1. Cú Chulainn

      No, Dan doesn’t get it. The Greens got a second chance and they screwed It up straight away. Because, Dan and Eamo, and the rest don’t actually give a poo about anyone but themselves..

  2. GiggidyGoo

    Not sure where you’re going, or if you’re insinuating something with the sentence “Along with me in that Dáil are several current members of the Oireachtas – Sinn Féin, Labour, Social Democrat and Independent TDs”

    You’ve already stated that ‘The bill was passed without a vote’ which conjures up railroading. Like last week’s?

  3. Vanessanelle

    if ye’re ever wondering where ye got it from
    this inherent sexism & that rogue misogny that comes out of the subconsious when ye’re not minding yerselves

    Removing the young ‘fallen’ woman from the fruit of her ‘sin’
    Don’t always blame yerselves btw
    20s 30s 40s 50s 60s 70s 80s Ireland made sure the roots planted stayed well set

    1. Cian

      Vanessa – I think you should address that previous comment to the lassies too;

      yizzers are guilty of inherent sexism & that rogue misogyny (as well are perputating same through the generations) too.

  4. Vanessanelle

    BTW meant to say earlier

    fair play to you Dan, no matter what you had to say on this bill, it was always going to be tricky

    And in fairness, you did a great job, and left no one in doubt around the facts up to last Thursday, and it was sofly threaded as you walked us through – not ham fisted or defensive, zero whiff of macho from it

    A measure of how good a writer you are
    IMO anyway, but that’s not really rated, so read what you want into all that


    Only those who continue to experience this hurt know how this pain feels. The rest of us can only speculate. I fear that much of that speculation is intensifying the hurt.
    Now lets get our hands on that effin report

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