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Dáil Éireann - Private Members Business (Sinn Féin)
Tuesday 21 March 2017


“That Dáil Éireann:

— acknowledges that the discovery of bodies at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home has shocked the people of Ireland and brought considerable sadness and anger to Dáil Éireann;

— agrees that serious questions exist in relation to other Mother and Baby Homes, particularly in the treatment, records and testimonies of survivors;

— recognises that since the formation of the State, Mother and Baby Homes, Industrial Schools, County Homes, Magdalene Laundries, and numerous other bodies and institutions were part of a systematic regime that resulted in the abuse and degradation of vulnerable women and their children, and the State was complacent in allowing this to happen; and

— further recognises that despite the high number of people who passed through homes and institutions, and through the hands of various other bodies, the State has to date failed to initiate a meaningful process that would help obtain the truth for survivors, nor has it provided a suitable forum that would allow the full story of these institutions and the system that underpinned them to be made public;

agrees that:

— a Truth Commission, involving international experts be established, that will be based on the principals of best practice from the truth processes in Chile, South Africa, Canada and Australia, and would be developed in consultation with both victims and survivors groups;

— the purpose of a Truth Commission is to establish the truth of these institutions, to give the survivors the option to tell their testimony in a non-confrontational, non-adversarial manner, and in either public or private, whichever they are at ease with; and

— its purpose is part of a wider process to identify the persons and institutions responsible for the systematic mistreatment and abuse of women and children within these care homes and the system as a whole, but are not a substitute for the justice system or any future criminal proceedings should they be deemed necessary anywhere on the island of Ireland; and

further agrees that the Truth Commission shall:

— operate on a modular basis, in order to ensure that older survivors are among the first heard;

— provide for public or private hearings, at the discretion of survivors, at suitable locations throughout the 32 counties where testimonies can be made;

— involve an advisory committee including victims representatives;

— allow for testimonies from all survivors of care homes and their next of kin, without bias;

— ensure unfettered access to all information and documentation for all survivors, victims and next of kin of residential care homes, including to their information and archival documentation;

— ensure hearings will include all Protestant Mother and Baby Homes such as Bethany and Westbank Mother and Baby Homes, and all institutions even if they are not included in the Government’s prescribed list;

— preserve the documentation at the Magdalene Laundry site in Donnybrook, which will be made available to survivors;

— ensure representatives of the organisations responsible appear to provide testimony and answer questions in public;

— provide, where necessary, legal representation to survivors with costs being covered by the State;

— as a matter of urgency, ensure that all Mother and Baby Homes and County Home sites are subject to an injunction preventing structural changes or interference to land where exhumations may be necessary until the final report of the Truth Commission is published;

— allow for the prevention of any interference with relevant sites, and that all ongoing work on these sites cease immediately to facilitate a thorough forensic inspection;

— examine the circumstances of the women and children affected from a constitutional and human rights perspective, including the circumstances of exit for women and children, as well as consider related matters such as the forced labour taken from women, illegal adoptions, vaccine trials, and any other such matter that the Commission sees appropriate, taking the Report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Mother and Baby Homes into account;

— consider the manner in which women or children were placed in these institutions, the role the State had in placing them within these institutions, and the responsibility it bears for the treatment and welfare of children more generally within these institutions;

— have the power to compel witnesses to come before a Truth Commission;

— publish a series of interim reports to Dáil Éireann, on a bi-monthly basis, on the progress of the Truth Commission and its recommendations regarding redress, identity and access to personal documents, responsibility of institutions, memorialisation, current welfare of survivors, access to courts and statutes of limitations, and all other information it considers relevant; and

— ensure that the recommendations of the interim and final reports be expedited as quickly as possible.” — Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Gerry Adams, Pat Buckley, John Brady, David Cullinane, Seán Crowe, Pearse Doherty, Dessie Ellis, Martin J. Ferris, Kathleen Funchion, Martin Kenny, Mary Lou McDonald, Imelda Munster, Denise Mitchell, Carol Nolan, Louise O'Reilly, Jonathan O'Brien, Eoin Ó Broin, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Maurice Quinlivan, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín.

[16 March, 2017]