Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Questions (628, 629, 631, 634)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

628. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration if an apology will be issued for the incarceration of women and children in mother and baby homes and similar institutions. [26921/20]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

629. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration if an apology will be issued to mothers and relatives whose children died in institutions due to abuse and neglect. [26922/20]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

631. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration if an apology will be issued for the policies and practices that caused mothers and children to be separated from each other by forcing and coercing women into relinquishing their babies. [26924/20]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

634. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration if an apology will be issued to mothers who were denied knowledge of their rights, which prevented them from giving informed consent. [26927/20]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 628, 629, 631 and 634 together.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was established by Government to investigate the significant concerns related to the institutional care of unmarried mothers and their babies during the period 1922 to 1998. The Commission is tasked with providing a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in these institutions.

I am acutely aware of the importance of this Commission's work and how much its final report is anticipated by former residents and their families.

Notably, all of the specific concerns raised by the Deputy are central to the Commission's terms of reference. The Commission has the robust statutory powers, resources and expertise necessary to examine these matters in a way that has never been possible before.

I absolutely share the desire of all interested parties to see the Commission conclude its work, and I look forward to receiving the final report at the end of October. However, in the interim, it is not appropriate to pre-empt the findings and conclusions of the Commission on these deeply personal and sensitive matters. To do so could potentially compromise the outcome of this important work.

As members of an Oireachtas which called for the establishment of this Commission, we owe it to all those who have so courageously shared their experiences with the Commission, to carefully and calmly examine its final report before responding. Our duty to the women and children who passed through these institutions, and to their families, is to ensure that their lived experiences are shared, acknowledged and understood.

When the Commission delivers its final report next month, its conclusions on all matters regarding the treatment of former residents of Mother and Baby Homes, and related institutions, will be taken into careful consideration in determining the appropriate State response.