Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Questions (923)

Joan Burton


923. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to extend the terms of reference of the mother and babies homes commission to cover all State linked institutions, in particular St Patrick’s Guild and St Rita’s private nursing home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12756/16]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

As the Deputy will be aware, the central focus of the Commission of Investigation established by S.I. No.57 of 2015 was intended to be on mothers and children accommodated in Homes for the purposes of extended ante- and post-natal maternity and infant care services. On that basis it would not have been appropriate to consider the institutions raised by the Deputy as Mother and Baby Homes, as they did not provide the specific range of services referred to above.

However, in accordance with Article 1(VII) of their Terms of Reference, the Commission is directed to investigate the exit pathways of children from the specified institutions listed in Appendix 1 of the relevant S.I. and to examine the extent to which other institutions were part of the entry or exit pathways for single mothers and children into or out of these Homes. It is certainly open to the Commission to give consideration to the types of institutions raised by the Deputy in this context. It should also be noted that the issues to be examined by the Social History Module described in Article 11 (I) of the Terms of Reference explicitly cite adoption societies in this regard.

It is also notable that mechanisms within the terms of reference were specifically included to take advantage of the investigative powers, resources and expertise of the Commission to ensure that any additional matters which the Commission may deem to warrant investigation can be brought to the attention of Government. This is not limited to matters within the direct scope of its investigations, but may also include issues which it considers to warrant further investigation in the public interest.

I am satisfied that this independent Commission has sufficient scope to examine a broad range of concerns, and to make a determination on their relevance to the central issues in question, and where appropriate to make any recommendations to me which the Commission deems necessary.