I propose to take Questions Nos. 598, 605, 606, 608 and 609 together.
The revelations in Tuam, Co Galway have brought to the fore the situation in other Mother and Baby Homes throughout the country. The practices in Mother and Baby homes have to date not featured prominently in the various reviews and investigations which have dealt with many of the past abuses which were inflicted on vulnerable citizens, many of them women and children.
It is fully recognised by me and my Government colleagues that we need to establish the truth. As has been announced, active consideration is being given to the best means of addressing the harrowing details emerging regarding the children who died many years ago in Mother and Baby Homes and the many questions raised regarding these deaths.
We will properly review these issues and we will not confine this review to Tuam.
My colleagues and I have tasked officials from key Government Departments with scoping these issues so that Government can make decisions on the precise content, format and method of organising this review. Relevant Government Departments have met and are working together in preparation for the Government’s early consideration and determination of the best course of action.
The cross-departmental initiative underway will examine these matters and report to Government on how they might be addressed. Departments involved include the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Amongst the decisions to be made by Government in finalising arrangements as part of its overall deliberations on the format and conduct of the review will be the assignment of lead responsibility for implementation.
Such scoping work is essential if fully informed decisions are to be made and matters are to be dealt with effectively. This is the experience in effectively initiating successful review processes in recent years. The work will proceed speedily and promptly. It will consider all of the issues which have arisen and the particular factors which the review will need to take into account including, for example, the passage of time. Government will be kept up to date and expects to have the product of this consideration before the end of the month.
I will provide a further update to the Deputy in the coming days.