I would like to place on the record of the House my sincere thanks and appreciation to the outgoing Chair, Mr Gerry Kearney, for his personal commitment in supporting the work of the Collaborative Forum.
The Chair had stated his intention to step down once the Forum's first report was concluded. This milestone has been reached and I have already signalled to the Forum that it would now be opportune to capture and reflect upon the learning from the process to date. In this way we can refine the mandate of the Forum to facilitate continued engagement with former residents of the institutions involved. The Forum itself also suggested a revisiting of these matters.
I am currently examining how best to support this interim evaluation and I will ensure that the Forum is directly involved in this process. In accordance with the Forum's Charter the appointment of a Chair is a matter for the Minister and I am considering a suitable appointment as part of the evolution of the Forum process. I am mindful that the experience thus far has demonstrated the critical importance of having an independent Chair with the competence and capacity to sensitively and effectively support the process.
I hope to be in a position to advise Forum members on the progress made in these areas ahead of their next meeting.