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Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 15 June 2021

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Ceisteanna (1016, 1017, 1018)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

1016. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the amount spent by his Department and the commission on advertising the mother and baby homes commission of investigation outside Ireland. [31728/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

1017. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the amount spent by his Department and the commission on advertising the investigation committee of the mother and baby homes commission of investigation. [31729/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

1018. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the amount spent by his Department and the commission on advertising the confidential committee of the mother and baby homes commission of investigation. [31730/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1016 to 1018, inclusive, together.

In responding to the Deputy's questions, it is important to firstly acknowledge that the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into public concerns relating to mother and baby homes was the subject of extensive debate in the Oireachtas with accompanying widespread national and international media interest. The public's engagement in these matters was further informed by comprehensive print, broadcast and on-line media coverage of the arrangements for the Commission. The subsequent activities of the Commission of Investigation garnered substantial media attention throughout its 6 years of operation. I make this initial point in recognition of the fact that communication is much broader than the amount spent on commercial advertising and media campaigns.

In accordance with the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, it must be recognised that the statutory Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was independent in the conduct of its investigations. As such, I had no role in the operational decisions of the Commission in the discharge of its functions, which included public communications of the arrangements for engagement with the Commission and its Confidential Committee.

The Commission was provided with a delegated sanction to directly recruit the staff, experts and specialist personnel it deemed necessary. Appropriate funding was allocated annually to support salaries, professional fees and other operational costs relating to the work of the Commission and its engagement with former residents and other witnesses. The Commission established a website which it used to publicise its contact details, provide updates and other relevant information.

Those who contributed to the investigation did so by appearing before the Commissioners, either voluntarily or by direction of the Commission, or by providing accounts of their experience on a wholly voluntary basis to the Confidential Committee, which was specifically set up to hear from survivors as informally as possible in the circumstances. It is evident from the Commission's final report that many individuals living outside the jurisdiction contributed to its work.

My Department has always been cognisant of the intense public interest in this deeply sensitive inquiry, and fulfilled its role by publishing the reports submitted by the Commission and publicising the separate activities designed to engage directly with survivors while the independent inquiry was on-going. My Department did this through our website, social media platforms, and latterly through the development of a mailing list to facilitate email communication directly to those who provided their contact details to the Department.

The Commission's repeated calls for persons with relevant information to come forward during the course of the inquiry were endorsed by the Department and Ministers. Myself, and previous Ministers for Children and Youth Affairs, regularly made statements and addressed questions in the Oireachtas and through national media. There was no cost attached to these consistent efforts to actively encourage those who had relevant information to contact the Commission directly.

The Commission was dissolved in law on the 28 February 2021. The expenditure information in the table below was provided by the Commission as part of its payment authorisation for expenditure on advertising and media.

Date

Description

Amount

June 2015

Making of radio advertisement

€30,529.83

June/July 2015

Print Media Campaign

€29,907.61

June 2016

Radio Advertising Campaign

€26,754.25

Sept 2016

Print Advert Newspaper

€37,724.22

Sept 2016

Radio Advertising Campaign

€27,515.10

Nov 2016

Print Advert Newspaper

€32,773.01

Feb 2017

Radio Advertising Campaign

€25,431.05

Feb 2017

Radio Advertising Campaign

€386.65

Feb 2017

Credit Note Print Advert Newspapers

-€193.02

Feb 2017

Print Advert Newspapers

€32,773.01

Feb 2018

Radio Advertising Campaign

€46,160.49

Feb 2018

Radio Advertising Campaign

€36,952.85

Feb 2021

Media Advertising Campaign

€50,721.30

Total

€377,436.35

Question No. 1017 answered with Question No. 1016.
Question No. 1018 answered with Question No. 1016.
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