It is important to be clear that the Collaborative Forum and the Commission of Investigation are two entirely separate processes.
The Commission of Investigation is an independent statutory investigative process.
The Collaborative Forum was established to examine ways to facilitate dialogue with former residents of Mother and Baby Homes and related institutions on issues of concern to them, in particular relating to health and well being supports.
In responding to the suggestion that there has been no Forum activity for over six months, it should be noted that I in fact met the Forum on two separate occasions in April. In addition, there has been correspondence with the Forum on matters relating to its first report.
Following the delivery of the report from the Collaborative Forum, I signalled the opportunity to take some time to reflect upon the learning from the process to date. In this way the mandate of the Forum can be refined to further enhance the engagement with former residents of the institutions involved. The Forum itself also suggested a revisiting of these matters. I am currently examining how best to conduct a focused interim evaluation which involves the Forum members.
The Chair had signalled his intention to step down once the report from the Forum had been finalised. The recommendations of the report were published in April following their consideration by Government. I am actively considering a suitable appointment to the role of Chairperson to ensure the process continues to be effectively supported.
In line with the Government's response to the Forum's recommendations, a number of actions, including a comprehensive analysis of all of the Forum’s recommendations by relevant departments, continue to be developed.
My officials will be in further contact with Forum members shortly to update them on these developments and make arrangements for the next meeting.