The recently published Retention of Records Bill provides for the retention of the records of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee.
The existing legislation for the three redress bodies contains strict confidentiality provisions, including the related provisions that the bulk of their records would be destroyed at the time of the dissolution of the bodies. The Retention of Records Bill is first of all designed to ensure that these records are not destroyed but are retained intact. For this approach to be sustainable, due consideration has to be given to the assurances of confidentiality, set down in legislation, to all those who gave testimony or engaged with the bodies in any way, balanced with the wider public interest of retaining the records for posterity and eventually opening them to public inspection. The provisions of the Bill in regard to a lengthy sealing period reflect the need to strike that balance.
The Redress Scheme operated by the Residential Institutions Redress Board which was in place for people who had suffered abuse in a number of scheduled institutions is no longer open to new applicants. The Residential Institutions Redress (Amendment) Act, 2011 removed the Board’s power to accept late applications received on or after the 17th September 2011.