I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
— that the State failed the women and children who were in Ireland's Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes institutions;
— that women and their children were separated through coercion and/or force, often unlawfully, during their time in these institutions;
— that women and their children were separated through coercion and/or force, often unlawfully, during their time in institutions not investigated by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters;
— that women and their children were separated through coercion and/or force, often unlawfully, in non-institutionalised settings, including through adoption agencies, maternity hospitals and private facilitators;
— the role religious authorities, social workers and private individuals played in non-institutionalised settings, where women and their children were separated through coercion and/or force, often unlawfully;
— the Taoiseach's acceptance of the lack of respect for the fundamental dignity and rights of mothers and children who spent time in these institutions and that the State did not uphold its duty of care to them;
— that the Taoiseach's apology in January did not acknowledge the full extent of the human rights violations experienced by people affected by this issue, and the long-term effects of these violations on their lives;
— that the Taoiseach's apology in January did not acknowledge the full extent of the human rights violations experienced by people affected by this issue;
— that the State has failed to acknowledge the full extent of unlawful and forced family separation; and
— that the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters, which is currently being challenged in the High Court, failed utterly to respect, acknowledge, or give adequate weight to the personal testimonies of survivors;
— the personal trauma and human rights abuse of coercion of a mother to relinquish her baby and of forced family separation;
— that the harms associated with forced family separation are not dependent on length of stay in a Mother and Baby Home or similar institution;
— that the harms associated with forced family separation are not dependent on spending time in an institution;
— that the exclusion of people who were in these institutions for a period less than six months, people who were boarded out, placed at nurse, people who were in institutions not falling under the remit of the Commission of Investigation, and people who experienced forced family separation but were not institutionalised is inequitable, unjust, and contrary to the survivor feedback received by OAK;
— the primal wound of separating babies from their mothers, by coercion and/or force, often unlawfully, at any age; and
— that all babies, regardless of age, experienced trauma due to being deprived of their mother's care, often being left unsupervised, neglected and/or malnourished;
commends the survivors, mothers, adopted people, their families, and the families of the children who died in these institutions for sharing their lived experiences and trauma, and those who have advocated on their behalf; and
calls on the Government to:
— demand immediate and substantive recourse from religious authorities (both Catholic and Protestant) and pharmaceutical companies to contribute to the State's redress scheme and, if necessary, expropriate their assets to achieve this;
— use OAK's 'Report of the findings of the Consultation with Survivors of Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes' as a basis for amending the proposed redress scheme;
— engage immediately with the victims and survivors' organisations and those directly affected by the scandal of Mother and Baby Home and County Home institutions;
— urgently review, in consultation with these groups, the following matters:
— the time-based criteria;
— the exclusion of children who were boarded out/placed at nurse from the redress scheme;
— access to the enhanced medical card;
— proposed payment rates;
— the failure to include all Mother and Baby Homes, County Homes, institutions, agencies and individuals involved in forced family separation;
— the legal waiver attached to the scheme; and
— amend the scheme accordingly to meet the needs of those survivors;
— repudiate the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters and cease contesting cases that are being taken by survivors;
— ensure that applications for redress payments for older survivors, who are pensioners, be opened from next January 2022 rather than the end of 2022;
— investigate records and burial sites of homes (including Tuam) where babies and children have been documented as deceased but where there are no burial records;
— provide all adoptees, boarded out and placed at nurse people with their full medical history as a priority;
— make a State apology to adopted, boarded out and placed at nurse people who were placed in abusive families and households; and
— preserve the oral confidential committee tapes and written Commission of Investigation testimonies in consultation with the survivors."
I thank Sinn Féin and the other signatories to the motion. We agree with everything that is in it and thank them for bringing it forward. It has only just become apparent to me that the changes we submitted in our amendment were purely additions. We did not propose to delete the motion. I want to make that clear. That line has been added by the Bills Office. We sent in additions, with a couple of changes, but nothing substantial. They were all additions to what was there because we agree with everything in the main motion. I just want to make that clear. The idea was it should not be a choice between the motion and the amendment. The Bills Office have done it that way and I do not understand why.
I will set that aside because the more important point is the message that gets across to the Government on this matter. I am telling the Minister now that he will have to revisit this. Arbitrary time periods, or tables of compensation linked to time periods, are offensive. They completely fail to take into account the reality of coerced, forced separation of mothers from children. The trauma, suffering, impact and lifelong and varying consequences are unique to every single case. There should be no attempt to try to link those consequences to arbitrary time periods in an institution, or to a table with amounts of money linked to time periods, and it is offensive to do so.
I ask the Minister to think about it. It is shocking and he will have to revisit it.
I was born in a mother and baby home and from what I understand, I was in two mother and baby homes. I do not know how long I was in them and I am sure many others do not know how long they were in them either. The impact could be horrendous if you were in a home for one day and it could be somewhat less if you were in one for six months, depending on the outcome. However, in every case, the primal wound of children being separated from their mothers and mothers being separated from their children is a crime that was committed by the church and State against tens of thousands of mothers and children.
To create arbitrary thresholds that you reach, where the State considers you worthy of redress, is absolutely offensive. I know the Minister did not mean to be offensive, but the problem with this whole sorry saga, which is about the crimes of the church and the State against mothers and children and their then trying to cover their backs and limit the damage, is that he has ended up compounding the hurt, insult, abuse and trauma perpetrated against mothers and children and retraumatising the victims. It is obnoxious. I know the Minister did not mean to be obnoxious, but that is the net result.
This compounds what was done with the commission of investigation report in which the testimonies of the survivors were relegated to being relatively unimportant. Whether that was intended or was just a gross mistake, I do not know, but it was wrong. One of the things we have added in our amendment is to say that report must be fully repudiated in terms of its conclusions. Some of the stuff in that report was offensive. I am just telling the Minister it was offensive. There is no point in saying it was not offensive because it was. Some of what is in this scheme is offensive. I do not believe it was deliberate, but it smacks of the State covering itself and trying to limit things, instead of trying to do right by the survivors and victims of this whole horrible scandal. We have to walk in lockstep with the people at the centre of this - the mothers, children and survivors - if we are to get this right. This scheme has not done so and I ask the Minister to review it in consultation with the survivors.
Our amendment also adds to the motion a demand that if the church institutions and pharmaceutical companies, which have a lot of assets, do not pay their fair share to fund redress, they must be forced to do so. We should state clearly that their assets will be expropriated if they do not do so. I do not know what half of these institutions are still doing running our hospitals and schools. Rather than us asking them nicely, they have to be told and if they will not do it, they have to be forced.
I will not bother with other individual details. They are in the amendment we proposed. However, the point has already been made by Deputy Cairns and others that what the Minister has said about those who are not included in this scheme having guaranteed access to all their identity records and birth certificates in the adoption (information and tracing) Bill 2021 and so on is not true, according to people who have looked at that legislation closely and also as I see it. We need to address that.
The other changes we have proposed are to say that sometimes it is forcible separation - in fact, it is always forcible - but the way in which it is forced can be coercion or force, it can be unlawful technically or lawful technically, but it is all wrong. To create a hierarchy and distinctions that do not understand that human reality is wrong and the Minister needs to revisit it.