The issues raised in the attached correspondence are being given consideration by my Department. I am already on the record of this House in responding to many of the matters raised in the context of the Government response to the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
With regard to the specific concerns relating to the records of the independent Commission of Investigation, the Commission is due to deposit its full archive with my Department prior to its dissolution at the end of the month. In the interim, the independent Commission continues to be the data controller for the records in its possession.
Intensive preparations are ongoing to ensure subject access requests can be processed in my Department in full compliance with the Data Protection Regulatory Framework. In the context of these preparations, I have sought further information from the Chair of the Commission to clarify whether, with the assistance of specialist technical expertise, it may be possible to retrieve personal data from any Confidential Committee records that were not retained. I have also sought to clarify when related audio recordings and notes were deleted. Both clarifications would be hugely helpful in informing how I intend to proceed to give effect to Article 16 of the GDPR when the records transfer to me.
In addition, I have met with the Data Protection Commissioner with a view to supporting clarity on these matters prior to the dissolution of the Commission.
A decision on any further action will be informed by this information gathering exercise and the legal advices of the Attorney General. Any call to extend the timeframe of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes must have regard to the fact that the Commission completed the inquiries it was established to conduct when submitting its Final Report last year. It is not clear at this point that an extension is in fact necessary to clarify these matters, or that extending the timeframe of the Commission would assist in this regard.
In addition, I have communicated with the Data Protection Commissioner with a view to supporting additional clarity on these matters.