The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, published the third interim report of the commission of investigation into the mother and baby homes yesterday. I will not go into the report, which is available for us all to read, but I have some concern at the suggestion that this work will not be completed until 2019. That is too long to wait for many women, given their circumstances, their desire to have the truth told, to share their experiences and to have what happened to them and their children acknowledged publicly by the State. The State was aware of this in many cases. Therefore, it is important that justice is delivered quickly for these people. Many of these women are in their later years and have spent their entire lives seeking justice, the truth and the opportunity to tell their stories, but most of all to be believed.
It is important to think of so many broken lives, broken families, broken dreams and aspirations for their loved ones. The State reneged on its responsibility to them and walked away. Families failed. There is no point laying the blame on any one side of our society because we know it involved families and institutions of the State. We need to show compassion and some understanding of these women who were betrayed, and give them justice.
I welcome the fact that the Minister is setting up a new collaborative forum with a strong voice for former residents but there have been many fora, discussions and promises and these people keep being let down. Time is terribly important for them. I acknowledge that the Minister has agreed that a United Nations special rapporteur be invited to Ireland to assist in responding to the issues relating to the mother and baby homes. That is positive too, but we cannot delay any further.
When preparing for Christmas, we can draw on the analogy of the Christmas story, we are asked to believe, and many of us choose to believe, of the vulnerable mother and her baby.
That vulnerability is perhaps more raw at this time of year as we celebrate Christmas and the message of Christmas. My wish for these people is that they get justice swiftly and that they and their families and their babes, as they were then, get a hearing and get redress. We are told in the national newspapers today that the Government may consider redress but that is not good enough. People deserve redress and we must hold out hope for this. Parallel to these ongoing investigations and teasing out of the issues, I ask that the Government start to focus now on making provision for redress for these people.