Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (364, 383)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

364. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the extent to which he will be consulting with the collaborative forum on the mother and baby and Bethany homes commission of investigation report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2338/21]

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Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

383. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth when he will be engaging with survivors again once they have reviewed the commission’s report into mother and baby homes; the mechanism by which engagement will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2889/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 364 and 383 together.

In responding to the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation, I and my colleagues in Government are committed to taking a survivor-centred approach, characterised by consistent engagement with former residents and their representative groups, including the survivor diaspora. The design and delivery of the measures within the Government's Action Plan will be directly informed by the views of survivors, their families and advocates.

The State accepts its responsibility for the failure to listen and act in the past, and in more recent times. Engagement and consultation around the Action Plan requires specific structures, systems and resources to ensure it is inclusive and effective. Innovative methods are required to achieve this objective, especially given the continuing challenges presented by the restrictions necessary to reduce the public health risks associated with Covid-19.

I want to commence this enhanced dialogue as quickly as possible. As a first step, I want to consult with members of the Collaborative Forum, as I believe that a new and enhanced model of engagement, which builds upon the strengths of the existing process, can add to the Forum’s significant work to date. I have issued invitations to forum members for two meetings so we can discuss how best to develop dedicated channels of communication and increase opportunities for direct engagement with the large number of stakeholders and their representative groups. We need to deepen our understanding of the full range of perspectives on these deeply personal issues and the specific needs of survivors now and into the future.