Tag Archives: Mother and Baby Home Commission

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman

 

‘The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, has this afternoon received the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters.

As required by law, the Minister has immediately referred the report to the Attorney General for his legal advice as to whether publication of the report could prejudice any criminal proceedings that are pending or in progress.

The Office of the Attorney General has been provided with additional resources to expedite this review, and the government has committed to publication as soon as possible.’

Statement from the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, October 30, stating the much-delayed release of the Mother and Baby Home Commission must be cleared by the Attorney General.

The Tuam Home Survivors’ Network writes:

A reading of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, shows the above to be clearly incorrect. There is no provision in the Act, as amended, that requires any Interim or Final Report be referred automatically to the Attorney for any purpose.

It is noted that section 38 of the Act (as amended) states as follows:

Publication of final and interim reports.

38.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), the specified Minister—
( a) shall cause a commission’s final report to be published as soon as possible after it is submitted to him or her, and
( b) may, at his or her discretion and following consultations with the chairperson or, if the commission consists of only one member, with the sole member, cause an interim report to be published, unless publication would hinder or impair the commission’s investigation.

(2) If the specified Minister considers that the publication of the final report or an interim report of the commission might prejudice any criminal proceedings that are pending or in progress, he or she shall apply to the Court for directions concerning the publication of the report.

(3) Before determining an application under subsection (2) in respect of a report of a commission, the Court shall direct that notice be given to the following:
( a) the Attorney General;
( b) the Director of Public Prosecutions;
( c) a person who is a defendant in criminal proceedings relating to an act or omission that is mentioned in the report or that is related to any matter investigated by the commission and mentioned in the report.

(4) On an application under subsection (2), the Court may—
( a) receive submissions, and evidence tendered, by or on behalf of any person mentioned in subsection (3), and
( b) hear the application in private if the Court considers it appropriate to do so.

(5) If, after hearing the application, the Court considers that the publication of the report might prejudice any criminal proceedings, it may direct that the report or a specified part of it be not published—
( a) for a specified period, or
( b) until the Court otherwise directs.

This section of the Act appears to contradict both the Minister and Taoiseach who have stated to the effect that there is a legal requirement to refer the matter to the Attorney General for the purposes of determining that the publication of the Final Report or an Interim Report of the Commission which might prejudice any criminal proceedings that are pending or in progress, whereas the Act requires that the Minister apply to the Court for directions concerning the publication of the Report if he forms an opinion that such matters might arise.

In fact, it is clear that the Act places no such automatic obligation on the Minister to refer the Report to the Attorney for that or any other purpose.

Legislative language is to be given its ordinary and usual meaning. In the present case, it appears should the Minister believe that pending or in progress criminal proceedings might be prejudiced by the publication then an Application to the High Court setting out the concerns should be made.

There is no evidence that there are any such prosecutions pending or are in progress and the Minister did not follow the law if he believes there might be.

If the Minister takes the time to read Sections 18 and 19 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 he will find that the use of any evidence gathered by the Commission in the course of it’s work, is expressly prohibited and excluded from any possible criminal proceedings.

It is clear that the Minister is not under any legal obligation to refer the report to the Attorney General for review. The Minister is, however, under legal obligation to publish the report “as soon as possible after it is submitted to him”.

The only plausible explanation for the improper delay in releasing the Report is that it allows the State to attempt to seize control of the narrative and indulge in further expressions of horror and hand- wringing in an orchestrated manner.

The clear object is to have survivors and their advocates with their modest supports playing catch up on a 4,000 page plus Report.

On Friday 30th October the Taoiseach stated:

“Government is not anticipating obstacles or barriers to its release.”
“We’re not looking at this from the perspective of barriers to publication, rather, we’re looking at it from the perspective of enabling this to be published as soon as we possibly can.”

Tuam Home Survivors Network

Yesterday: ‘My Department Engaged Extensively With The AG’s Office’

Attorney General Paul Gallagher; Minister for Children, Disabilty, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman in the Dail at the Convention Centre, October 22

But did they?

This morning.

Further to controversy over the sealing of the Mother and Baby Home Commission records…

“My department has engaged extensively with the Attorney General’s office on this issue and the advice we have received, to which the department is bound, is that the GDPR right of access to personal data set out in article 15 of the GDPR is expressly prohibited by section 39 of the Commissions of Investigation Act.”

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, October 22

Via the Irish Times:

However, a spokesman for Mr O’Gorman confirmed that the first time there was direct contact between the Minister’s office and the Attorney General’s office was in the week of October 19th, after a query about access to records in the archive had been raised by the Data Protection Commissioner.

The first time the current Attorney General, Paul Gallagher, gave direct official advice on the matter was at the Cabinet meeting on October 28th, when he said the 2004 Act did not preclude the consideration of data access requests by his department.

Roderic O’Gorman’s first direct contact with AG was in October (Irish Times)

Meanwhile…

Anyone?

From top: Patsy McGarry;  This morning’s Irish Times

‘Last week too it was erroneously claimed that the Data Protection Act 2018*  – which implements the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – meant the commission could no longer abide by provisions of the 2004 Act which set it up, and stipulated that documents it accumulated must be placed beyond public access.’

Irish Times Religious Affairs Correspondent Patsy McGarry

No grand conspiracy to protect those responsible for mother and baby homes (Patsy McGarry, Irish Times)

Meanwhile…

Katherine O’Donnell, of the Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR), tweetz:

Quick thoughts on the Irish Times coverage of Repeal the Seal…

1. Portraying adopted people’s and public anger at repeated Government. declarations that records would be sealed for 30 years as a misunderstanding of the bill and Government’s good intentions.

2. Blaming ‘hurt & upset’ of survivors on survivor/activists and academics protesting the system whereby adopted people are denied the name their mothers gave them and personal data – is to refuse to hear the empowered voices of survivors demanding their human rights.

3. Accusing activists and particularly academics of ‘wilfully’ misrepresenting the Bill and Commission and deliberately and unnecessarily upsetting ‘those people affected’ is not merely wrong (and injurious) but dangerous to fostering informed respectful public debate.

4. Sustained a very unusual level of ‘inaccuracies’ in The Irish Times is troubling e.g. 2004 Act does not in fact seal archives – Magdalene Inquiry wasn’t based on this Act. etc. Failure to ask critical questions – such as isn’t it illegal for Commission to destroy a database?

Good reporters editorialising on behalf of Government is a betrayal of journalistic standards –  we need them to continue to hold power to account. Coverage in The Journal and Irish Examiner was so much better.

Finally – we would not have achieved any justice measures won (so far) without the level of engaged and informed debate on Twitter. I’m looking forward to Irish Twitter continuing to listening and  informing each other, debating and critiquing – we have an ongoing job to ensure justice.

McGarry, eh?

Earlier: This New Position Has Huge Implications


From top: Majella O’Connor, who was born in St Patrick’s Mother Baby Home on the Navan Road in Dublin in 1971, at a protest on the site of the home on Monday; Solicitor Simon McGarr; Minister for Children, Roderic O’Gorman

Last night.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs released a statement which included the following line:

“The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth Affairs, along with Túsla, will continue to engage closely with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to ensure that the rights of all citizens to access personal information about themselves, under data protection legislation and the GDPR are fully respected and implemented…”

It comes as the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Babies Homes is scheduled to hand over its 4,000-page report to the Government tomorrow.

The Department’s position on GDPR in respect of the commission’s investigation followed data protection expert and solicitor Simon McGarr writing a blog post on October 20 (nine days ago) highlighting the huge significance of GDPR in this matter.

He wrote:

“It is critical that the state does not compound an administrative error being made by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters, in failing to take account of its duties under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and GDPR to set aside any national provision which would conflict with the rights of access and other data protection rights.”

When the Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman was specifically asked in the Dáil, on October 21, if he accepted that GDPR superseded the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, he failed to answer.

Further to this sequence of events.

This morning.

Claire McGettrick, of Adoptions Rights Alliance and the Clann Project, was on RTE’s Morning Ireland saying the group warmly welcomed the approach by the Government.

But she said:

“However we believe that in order for the effective and respectful and fair implementation of the GDPR, it is absolutely crucial to have data protection law experts involved in both the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, immediately, and in Tusla who are already in the business of information provision and indeed in every other situation where records of adoption and institutional abuse are held.”

Journalist Aine Lawlor asked her if she was correct in understanding that the Government has now acknowledged adoptees and survivors’ right to seek but not necessarily to get their records and that terms and conditions may apply.

McGettrick said the State’s practice to date has been “unfortunately appalling”, particularly in regards to Tusla.

So she said it’s “absolutely crucial” to have independent data protection experts installed in the department and Tusla in regards to these records.

She also added:

We also stress that this new position has huge implications for people with records at the McAleese archive, of people with records of the Ryan Commission. They should also be provided with their records immediately because the GDPR applies across the board and we welcome the State’s acknowledgment of that.”

In June 2015, Conall Ó Fátharta, then a journalist with the Irish Examiner, reported that, during the McAleese Inquiry, the HSE examined both the Tuam and Bessborough mother and baby homes and found that death certificates pertaining to children at Bessborough may have been falsified in order for “clandestine adoption arrangements, both foreign and domestic” and that the findings could have “dire implications for the Church and State”.

Mr Ó Fátharta also reported:

“It also noted the possibility that up to 1,000 children may have been trafficked from the Tuam mother and baby home, which could “prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State”. None of the concerns are mentioned in the McAleese report.”

Meanwhile,

On October 23, on Tipp FM.

After Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman appeared on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Breeda Murphy, of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home Alliance, spoke to Fran Curry.

The interview came a day after the Dáil vote on the Bill.

From the interview:

Fran Curry: “What’s your take on it all, at this point Breeda?”

Breeda Murphy: “Well, it’s an affront to democracy. I wrote to the Minister this morning and I said:

‘Dear Minister,

‘We were the very first to write to you upon your appointment that very day with sentiments of goodwill and support. Because we understood given your background and understanding in law you would lift the vulnerable; support us through the difficult days and take us to a new political arena of openness and transparency, where truth would reign and justice would follow.

‘But last evening’s performance left none of us in any doubt. Just as under some guise of all that is good; the powerful figures of yesteryear incarcerated our youth and trampled on their vibrancy to reduce them to mere shadows of their former selves, you have severed any hope we held steadfast to of a truthful narrative emerging,

‘I actually felt sorry for you in recent days – you cut a forlorn figure in a large hall with no support from your own party or those you bedded with. Had times been different (pre-Covid) we would have been there and I would actually have voiced your vulnerability because, to me, it appeared unfair.

‘But against the resounding expert opinions of law, of compliance, of amendments, of extensions to allow informed discourse – you, just like power brokers of the past, donned the mask that hid any words you may have mouthed through exchanges and continued with a mantra that holds no weight.

‘I sincerely hope for your sake, it’s worth it. Because after the vote I had to attempt to explain to our members the continuing injustice.

‘Through tears I took phone call after phone call and assured them they did nothing wrong and attempted to present as this was an expected outcome. That we will manage. After all, this is a battle we have fought for decades.

‘But just occasionally the wind dies from under our sails; just occasionally that glimmer of hope burns out; and darkness envelopes and the dreams fade – that was our experience yesterday evening. Of fading dreams to walk without shadows, to reclaim lives and the unburied dead, to be able to recall an ethical response from a parliament that understood.

‘You, just like all the rest, turned your face away.

‘There is no right in that.

‘Justice delayed is justice denied.’

“Fran, that’s what I wrote to the minister, I haven’t had a response yet. The legal arguments he put up have been shot down by absolute experts including barrister Catherine Connolly (Galway Independent TD) in Dáil Éireann; Simon McGarr who’s a solicitor in the interest area of data protection; and by Maeve O’Rourke, who has done incredible work on the human rights legislation.”

Curry: “He is still putting it out there, and he did again this morning, that, you know, that he is trying to protect the records and that what he’s doing, he’ll take that information out of the 30-year sealing of documentation. How do you answer that Breeda?”

Murphy:Fran, you see, you have to ask what’s in those records? And what’s in those records, related to Sean Ross Abbey for instance, is that the sisters told us that 269 children died there. Official governmental records tell us that 1,024 died there. And they tell us that 427 babies died between 1931 and 1939; 412 babies died throughout the 1940s.

“And then the Adoption Act came into play in the 1950s and we saw that drop off, the deaths drop off at that period of time. But also we saw yesterday [October 22], leaks of some information that, well, actually, is in the public domain and that would be by way of Government documents.

“And those are the important documents that are being sealed. This one is from the 1950s and it shows the trafficking of children to the United States and one lady in particular, whose case was carried on the BBC, she was born in Northern Ireland.

“She was routed, trafficked to Stanmullen in Co Meath and, interestingly, Stanmullen, St Clare’s and St Joseph’s are not included in this investigation at all. So there’s no spotlight placed on them. And from there, the children were routed to Canada and the United States.

“Now this particular lady has three passports, one from Northern Ireland, one from the Republic of Ireland and one from the United States with different identities.

“So this tells us that this is a massive cover-up.

“And when the Government seal for 30 years what they’re effectively saying, that they are destroying them, to my mind they are destroying them from our ability to reach them. So those would support and the Government and the Commission can come out with any statement that we cannot verify because we will not have access to the same information.

“So we’re expected to put our trust in a system that’s let us down.”

Curry: “Are you taking any solace at all from what the minister said, that he would get together with the Attorney General and, indeed, survivors, and they would come to some sort of agreement where this is concerned. That he’s still up for that? Does that hold any water for you at all?”

Murphy: “No, I’ll tell you why. I cannot trust a government that does this. I cannot and when you say he has had tremendous support and he actually said it himself, he’s had tremendous support. I’ve watched the proceedings through the Seanad, through the Dáil on this. And not one, not one Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, or Green Party member stood up in defence because they didn’t attend. They did not come in.

“Now, if that was a good news story, Fran. If that was something they could be proud of…”

Curry: “They’d all be there…”

Murphy: “I can guarantee you, they would be there. They have attempted, some have attempted to write to me. One wrote yesterday, to explain what you’ve said, about the minister. I would prefer to take advice, the legal advice from the likes of Simon McGarr, from Maeve O’Rourke, from people who’ve studied this.”

Curry: “Will you explain some of that advice to us, because what the minister is saying is that the entire basis of the commission is based on that 2004 Act. His concern then is, of course, a legal challenge where this is concerned. What are you hearing about that?”

Murphy:I’m hearing that the legal challenge will actually be in Europe. Because he’s relying on…”

Curry: “The GDPR is it?”

Murphy: “Yeah, with GDPR. He’s relying on Attorney General advice. Now it’s very interesting that he has not named the Attorney General advice and, more so, that he has not provided it to the Opposition who could study it, who have their own legal experts.

“Now the minister is claiming that Section 39 of the 2004 Commissions of Inquiry [Investigation] Act can oust GDPR access rights and exception related the administration of justice.

“But Simon McGarr responds. He’s in the area of data protection. He said, even if Section 39 of the commissions act of 2004 was an exemption that fell into one of the existing grounds for restricting GDPR rights, it still wouldn’t be legal.”

Curry: “Right, but that [GDPR] wasn’t in the original act, that was an amendment wasn’t it, just a few years ago?”

Murphy: “I can’t say. I don’t know if it was an amendment but certainly GDPR legislation trumps, it’s European, so it trumps, and it comes in from 2018, and Catherine Connolly was very strong on it, Bríd Smith. I mean they have…the fact that the ministers have another 16 advisors…you know, Fran, I’m talking to you without anybody advising me.

“I’m trying to understand this legislation but I can tell you that it is flawed, that what they are doing effectively is that they are now the imposing structure of the institutions that trampled, you know, effectively silenced all of our survivors, their families and those looking for children today.”

Curry: “The speed of this legislation as well, Breeda, what’s your understanding of that? I mean it’s come upon everybody rather suddenly hasn’t it, last-minute stuff?”

Murphy: “It’s unheard of to have a Bill go through the Dáil with these repercussions for 30 years, silencing without pre-legislative scrutiny. And even Michael McDowell, himself a former Attorney General and probably an advisor in 2004 on this Act. Even he requested and actually begged the minister for a month’s duration to examine. And the commission would have, I’m sure, because now he’s pushed the commission out to February anyway. So the commission would have obliged and not handed over the report and no survivors wants and unsafe…”

Curry: “Yeah but he, the minister said though that the reason for that was that people waited long enough for this report from the commission, he didn’t want them waiting any longer. Again, does that hold any water for you?”

Murphy: “Not any. You know why? He never actually asked any survivors that question. He went along, this is all so completely tied up to dismiss the rights and the voices of survivors. If he wanted us there, there are 40 in our group, we could have at least and we were the very first on the day he was appointed, we wrote to him because we were right off the mark and we congratulated him and we looked forward to working with him, he is, after all, a law lecturer. And we put our trust and faith. But this has happened decade after decade. The survivor has been silenced, has been ignored, their rights disrespected.

“And for the lost babies of Tuam or the lost babies of Sean Ross Abbey, the sisters didn’t even know there was another 700- and whatever there. I mean how can you lose the records of these children and where are they buried? That is really the crux of the question.”

Earlier: Dan Boyle: Not Doing It For The Kids

Previously: “I Didn’t Want To Ask Survivors To Wait More”

The Magdalene Report: A Conclusion

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth Roderic O’Gorman

This afternoon.

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth Roderic O’Gorman has indicated that the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation will not be released until late November or early December.

The Minister had previously said the commission was be ready to report this Friday, October 30 and in fact gave this deadline as a reason to rush through legislation to seal the Commission’s files.

Via Irish Examiner:

It is understood that Mr O’Gorman has asked attorney general Paul Gallagher to examine ways in which the archive can be opened up to survivors of institutional abuse.

That process may also take a number of weeks, it is understood.

Mr O’Gorman has said that his advice from the attorney general was that access to the records had been explicitly restricted by the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004.

However, the Irish Examiner last week revealed that this is entirely contrary to the observations provided to his Department by the Data Protection Commission.

Mother and Baby Homes report will not be available until November or December (Irish Examiner)

Yesterday: Seal Tricks

RollingNews

This morning/afternoon.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion (above) and and Mairéad Farrell (top right) speak to the media concerning the controversial passing of the Mother and Baby Home records bill.

Depty Funchion said she has written to the Data Protection Commissioner’s office to seek their observations on why they believe the vote last week to seal the records of the Mother and Baby Home Commission for 30 years may have contravened European and Irish law with regard to the accessibility of personal data.

Last Friday, it was revealed the DPC  was consulted by the Department of Children ahead of the drafting of the bill., with DPC Deputy commissioner Graham Doyle saying:

“It would appear to the DPC to be the case that the separate provisions of the 2004 Act in relation to the sealing of documents were not intended in the context of the amendment to the 2018 Act to provide an effective ‘blanket’ barrier to the exercise of rights

Deputy Funchion, who delivered an emotional speech during the Dáil debate on the bill, said:

“I am anxious to focus on solutions that we can bring forward now, particularly through legislation.”

Earlier: Repelled

Illegitimate History

A Higher Appeal

Last Friday: Not So Fast

RollingNews

Yesterday.

Áras an Uachtaráin, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Protestors tie children’s shoe’s to railings outside the President’s residence following his signing of a bill that will seal records from the Mother and Baby Home Commission for 30 years.

Friday: Not So Fast

RollingNews

Meanwhile…


From top: Rachael English; Minister for Children, Disabilty, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman in the Dail at the Convention Centre yesterday

This morning.

RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

Following last night’s vote on a bill that seals records from the Mother and Baby Home Commission for 30 years, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman spoke to Rachael English.

Rachael English: “A great many people, including survivors of these institutions are angry and upset by what the Government is doing. Are they wrong?”

Roderic O’Gorman: “Look, I know there, myself and all TDs and Senators have gotten a huge amount of communications from survivors of mother and baby homes over the last two weeks. And look, I acknowledge, as minister, I should have done a, I needed to do a better job at communicating what the Government was doing and engaging with survivors’ groups. And I know that a lot of anxiety has been caused and I certainly deeply regret the fact that my failures to communicate properly caused that anxiety.

“But just to focus on what this piece of legislation does. The Commission of Investigation has been working over the last five years. And it has established a database of all the women and children who passed through the main mother and baby homes and it’s identified the dates in which they were in those homes.

“And that database can help the children connected with those homes establish their full identity. Now, under the existing law, the law under which the mother and baby homes [commission] was originally established, all the archives from the commission’s investigation have to be sealed for 30 years but when we saw the value that this particular database could have for helping children establish their identity, we decided to act to ensure the database and the records that support it, don’t go into that archive.

“So we’ve passed that law to ensure the database and the supporting records are taken out of the archive for the time being. They’re given to Tusla to help Tusla with its existing tracing services and I’ve committed to bringing in new information and tracing legislation and I’ll bring that to the Dail next year.

“And this database will be incredibly useful in helping children who were in the mother and baby homes establish their identity.”

English: “If, as you say, the fundamental problem here is the 2004 act under which the commission was established, why not amend that act rather than introduce this legislation?”

O’Gorman: “The entire commission of investigation over the last five years has worked on the basis of the 2004 act and in the course of the debate yesterday, different deputies expressed different views. Some people said should be able to access their personal information that’s in the archive, others said all elements of the archive should be opened, the entire thing should be opened. And my concern, certainly, with the latter proposal is that if we allowed that, when the commission reports in a week and a half’s time, there’s a real risk we’ll see legal challenges to the commission’s report. Because people who engage with the commission, on the understanding of the existing law, will then feel that the legal protections around them have been completely withdrawn.

“But what I will say is I’m absolutely aware that particularly for personal information, that 30-year sealing, coming from the original law, is really problematic. So what I stated in the Dáil yesterday is that I’m committed initially to engaging with the Attorney General to see what avenues there are there, to address the 30-year issue, particularly with regard to personal information. But I also want to work with the Oireachtas committee on children and work with colleagues in the Dail and Seanad and bring in survivor groups, bring in those academics who have been representing and supporting them to bring a solution.”

English: “But should you not have done that, should you not have done that before now? This commission has been sitting for five years. They knew about the 2004 legislation as did politicians so why this last-minute rush without adequate consultation.”

O’Gorman: “The reason we’ve rushed is because of the deadline of the 30th of October. Once the commission reports and the commission is indicated that it is ready to report on the 30th of October, once the commission reports, it immediately stands dissolved at law and all its archive is sealed.”

English: “Why not then extend the life of the commission?”

O’Gorman: “Because by extending the life of the commission, we would have had to delay the submission of the final report. And as you know that final report was meant to come in two years ago originally…”

English: “But people have already waited five years, could they not wait, would they not be willing to wait another couple of months?”

O’Gorman: “I didn’t want to ask survivors to wait more because I understand how eager they are to see the results of the commission of investigation from the last five years. The report is going to be about 4,000 pages long, it’s going to have specific chapters dealing with each of the mother and baby homes, it’s going to have a chapter looking at the social history of Ireland at the time to try and put what was happening in the mother and baby homes in a wide context and it’s also going to have a chapter where people who gave their personal stories to the confidential committee of the commission where those personal stories will reflected. So I think the commission’s report is absolutely essential part of answering what happened in these mother and baby homes. And I want to ensure that that gets published as quickly as possible. But, as I said earlier, I am absolutely committed to addressing the issue of the 30-year rule and the very legitimate concerns that people have, that their personal information is contained in that archive.

“That decision on sealing the archive was made in 2015 when the commission was established under the original legislation. I think we’ve all a greater understanding now of the importance of people’s personal information and I think some of the issues to do with the mother and baby home commission they were reflected in a debate in the Dail last year about the records of the Ryan Commission into the industrial schools so I think we need to just take a step back and consider how we treat this information and how we archive it appropriately.”

English: “Just on that point, another point being put forward by campaigners and the opposition is that there is a role here for data protection legislation and the GDPR, that people are entitled to their own information. Have you fully explored that?”

O’Gorman: “Yeah and I would have, in the normal course, expected that GDPR would apply to the archives. But when the GDPR was introduced in Ireland in 2018, the commission of investigations legislation, that 2004 act, was amended to explicitly exclude GDPR from applying to the commission’s archive. So the act was explicit, that was done explicitly in 2018. Now I wasn’t in the Oireachtas at that point so I don’t know the thinking behind that. But that very explicit exclusion is what prevents the application of GDPR in this situation…”

English: “Do you accept though that there are a number of experts, a considerable number of experts in this area who have made this, you know, their life’s work, and they disagree with that interpretation. So maybe could you not go back to the Attorney General, who gave you this advice and say ‘listen can we look at this again?'”

O’Gorman: “And that’s exactly what I’ve committed to do in the Dáil yesterday, Rachael. I absolutely accept that there are some very eminent experts in this area who disagree with the interpretation given by the Attorney General so I have said, as well as looking at the 30-year rule, we need to look at the application of GDPR again to personal information that’s contained in the archive. And indeed it may be through some change in that exclusion that we can actually address both issues as regards access to personal information. I completely understand how survivors want to get this information. Ireland has not put in good information in tracing legislation. My predecessor Katherine Zappone went a long way in trying to introduce that but the Bill she proposed didn’t, was withdrawn from the Seanad. And it’s my intention and it was one of the first commitments I made as minister, to bring in proper information and tracing legislation so the people who have been denied access to this information so long can actually secure their full identities.”

English: “As you say yourself though, you’re talking here about people who have been consistently treated with a lack of respect by the State. And by other institutions. Don’t they have good reason to be sceptical about any official or political promises now?”

O’Gorman: “They do. And again, as I say, I should have done better in how I communicated, what I was trying to achieve with this particular piece of legislation but I think it is clear that there is strong support across the Oireachtas for bringing in changes that can properly secure people’s personal information.”

English: “But you won’t be changing it in the short term, that’s you’re fundamental message?”

O’Gorman: “I believe that this Bill is necessary to secure the database and as I said at the start, this database is incredibly valuable and will have an immediate benefit for people who are undertaking, for people who were in mother and baby homes and are seeking to trace their identity, I believe it’s important that this database is secured, taken out of the archive and secured for use.”

English: “Ok, and just one final question then. You’re due to get this report next week. As you said yourself, it’s very lengthy. When will it be published?”

O’Gorman: “The report will need to be reviewed by my department and by the Attorney General as well. And subject to that, a decision of government will be required to publish it. I can’t give a definitive timeline today but what I will say is: I want that report published as quickly as possible. Survivors have waited long enough. And as well as the elements that I outlined earlier, the report is going to contain recommendations as to both how to provide redress to those who were within mother and baby homes and I think it’s important that they’re published so that the government can act on those.

“But as part of the wider government action, as I said I’ve committed to looking at the issue of the availability of personal information in the archives and I’ll be working on that, to deliver that commitment.”

O’Gorman: “All right. Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, thank you joining us on Morning Ireland.”

Last night: Sealed

Meanwhile…

 

Last night: Sealed

This afternoon.

Dáil Éireann at the Convention Centre, Dublin

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett makes an emotional plea to Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman (top) to consider opposition amendments to prevent his bill sealing records from the Mother and Baby Homes Commission for 30 years.

The bill was passed this evening 78-67.

Mother-and-baby homes legislation passes through Dáil (RTÉ)

Update:

Yesterday: ‘The Proposal To Seal The Archive Is Simply Impermissible Under EU Law’ [Updated]

This morning.

Earlier…

Minister for Children, Disabilty, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman

Proposed amendments by the Minister to the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records and another matter, Bill 2020

This morning.

Children’s minister Roderic O’Gorman has proposed two amendments to legislation which would seal all records of the Mother and baby Home Commission for 30 years.

Via The Irish Examiner:

The first amendment will provide for the commission to remain in existence beyond the submission of its final report to engage with the survivors, to confirm which of them want their story to be made public and those who request anonymity, in order for all those involved to be accommodated and without it delaying the submission of its final report on October 30.

The second would see a copy of the database and related records deposited with the minister as part of the archive so that the records of the commission would be held as a singular, complete archive.

This will maintain a single sealed archive, while still ensuring that the database and related records can transfer to Tusla and remain available for use in accordance with existing and future statute.

One TD, who has seen the amendments, said: “I have never gotten so many phone calls in my time as a TD as I have about this, and the public think you can open the whole thing and they won’t be able to do that. I don’t know that this will satisfy people. They do deal with some of the major issues, but I’m not sure they’ll quell discontent.”

Anger grows over sealing of mother and baby home records for 30 years (Irish Examiner)

Meanwhile….

In  fairness.

The bill will be debated in the Dáil tonight.

Previously: No Justification Has Been Given For Why This Material Needs To Be Sealed’

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