Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (621)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

621. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will outline, in the aftermath of the mother and baby homes legislation, the information that will be handed to Tusla; the information that will be kept by his Department; the records that will be sealed for 30 years; the personal information that will be available to persons who were in mother and baby homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38168/20]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Act 2020 provides for the deposit of the database and associated records with Tusla, in addition to transferring a copy of this data and the entire archive of records from the Commission to me as the prescribed Minister.

Section 2 (1) of the Act governs the deposit of certain records of the Commission with the Child and Family Agency.

It states that notwithstanding subsection (2) of section 43 of the Act of 2004, the Commission shall, as soon as may be after the passing of this Act, deposit with the Agency the database and all related records.

This refers to the database compiled by the Commission during the course of its investigation which is a digital record of the mothers and children who spent time in 15 of the 18 institutions which were under investigation. The Commission is of the opinion, and Government concurs, that this is an invaluable tool for Tusla now, and whatever statutory body will be charged with information and tracing services into the future. The legislation also outlines the current restrictions placed on Tusla for the use of the database in delivering its services.

Section 4 of the Act governs the deposit of copies of certain records with Minister.

It provides that the Commission shall make a copy of the database and a copy of all related records which will be deposited with Tusla, and shall deposit those copies with me as the prescribed Minister.

Section 5 of the Act prescribes for the deposit of evidence and documents in accordance with section 43 of Act of 2004. This pertains to the entire archive of records created in he course of the Commission's work. For the avoidance of doubt, it provides for the obligation under subsection (2) of section 43 of the Act of 2004 to deposit with the specified Minister all evidence received by, and documents created by or for, the Commission. My Department will develop and publish guidance to assist those who wish to seek access to personal information that may be contained in these records when the records are transferred.

I have also committed to examining the wider issues related to enhancing access to personal information in the archives of institutional records. This will be progressed in partnership with the Oireachtas, the Attorney General, the Data Protection Commissioners Office and relevant stakeholders.