I propose to take Questions Nos. 600 and 601 together.
Ireland recognises that the system of Special Procedures is a central element of the UN Human Rights machinery and we value the contribution of independent human rights experts who hold mandates from the Human Rights Council to report and advise on human rights from a thematic or country specific perspective.
Notwithstanding Ireland’s standing invitation to all United Nations thematic special procedures holders, the Government decided to extend a specific invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence to visit Ireland in the context of our on-going response to the legacy of mother and baby homes and related issue of concern.
I sought the support of my colleagues in Government for this course of action in late 2017 as I believe that the principles of transitional justice should inform the State’s response to the experiences of those who spent time in these institutions. As the term of office of the then Special Rapporteur, Mr. Pablo de Greiff, was coming to an end when these arrangements were being progressed in early 2018, the invitation instead issued to his successor, Mr. Fabián Salvioli in April 2018. Given the many demands on a Special Rapporteur’s time an invitation issued at the start of a term of office presents a better opportunity for a favourable response.
The invitation was issued by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in accordance with his role and competence in managing international relations on behalf of the State. The invitation did not issue from my Office. The invitation was confirmed in a press release on Tuesday 1st May, 2018. This press release is accessible on my Department’s website. Statements I made in various fora, including in this House, regarding the proposed invitation were at all times consistent with the Government’s deliberations and subsequent arrangements for this invitation to issue.
As I have said previously, I would welcome the engagement of the Special Rapporteur as I believe his Office can assist our shared endeavours to establish the truth and advise on how best we can move forward in appropriately responding to this difficult and painful part of our history.