Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman is speaking on his bill that will allow the Mother and Baby Homes Commission’s archive to be sealed for 30 years (except for a database on mothers and children detained in 11 institutions which it wants to give to TUSLA).
Minister O’Gorman said:
“As colleagues will know, access to information is a recurring and priority concern for those directly involved in the Mother and Baby Home institutions
“This legislation…urgent measure in terms of preserving valuable databases and records…speak to that very concern.
“I understand that there are genuine expectations that this database should enable additional information available to residents.
“In that regard it is essential to understand that Tusla is still bound by the continuing significant constitutional constraints in terms of access to information.
“This can only be addressed by future legislation which is something to which I am absolutely committed.
“I appreciate that some stakeholders have argued that the database and related records should be transferred to a body other than Tusla.
“The rationale for specifying Tusla as the recipient of the database is that it already has statutory responsibility for adoption tracing services under the Adoption Act of 2010 and already dedicates substantial resources and expertise to carrying out tracing functions.
“Crucially it currently holds the originals of many of the institutional records. Legally this enables the maximum value to be obtained from the database in the immediate term while comprehensive information and tracing legislation is being put in place.”
“A transfer to any statutory body, other than Tusla, such as the Adoption Authority of Ireland, would mean that two different statutory bodies withholds the same records with Tusla holding the originals and the AAI holding the database and associated copies. Such a duplication would inefficient and would lead to confusion.”
“Tusla will be fulfilling an important…safeguarding this database in the immediate term. The appropriate body to retain such records in the long term will be subject of further consultation and consideration in the course of bringing forward new legislative proposals for enhancing information and tracing services. I will of course seek further engagement with stakeholders as I advance these deliberations.
“Due to the urgent need to pass this legislation before the commission is dissolved, I appreciate there has been limited time to review the proposals.
“The requirement for pre-legislative scrutiny was waived by the House Business Committee at my request. However, I hope with the recent briefings I provided, as well as the information outlined today, I hope these have been helpful to you all.”
More as we get it.
Last night: Sealing Their Fate