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Taoiseach rules out reopening redress scheme for mother and baby home survivors

A High Court ruling that found the Commission of Investigation acted unlawfully by denying fair procedure to survivors prompted calls for a review.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has ruled out reopening the redress scheme for survivors of mother and baby homes.

A High Court ruling which found the Commission of Investigation acted unlawfully by denying fair procedure to the survivors prompted calls for the scheme to be reviewed.

But the Taoiseach said it is “not for Government to repudiate the report”, and said there are no plans at present to reopen the redress scheme.

Speaking to reporters before Christmas, Mr Martin said: “The context of the High Court, that was about giving people access to the personal testimonies or the commission’s report in respect of them being satisfied with how their testimony was treated.

They weren't given that access when they should have been given that access - that in itself doesn't render the entire report itself flawedTaoiseach Micheal Martin

“They weren’t given that access when they should have been given that access – that in itself doesn’t render the entire report itself flawed.

“In terms of the redress scheme, the redress scheme was not based on the commission report, it went beyond the commission, significantly beyond it in terms of some of the suggestions that were made by the commission.

“I would say it’s a very, very comprehensive redress scheme, it’s estimated to cost over 800 million euro.”

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Asked to confirm that the Government does not intend to review the scheme, he replied: “Not at this stage, no.

“But obviously it now has to go to legislation so that could take the best part of 2022.

“We will engage with the opposition and there will be consultation in relation to it and we will follow through and we will obviously take views and take people’s opinions on board as we go through the legislative process.”

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A protest outside Leinster House against the Government’s planned redress scheme for mother and baby home survivors (Niall Carson/PA)

A protest outside Leinster House against the Government’s planned redress scheme for mother and baby home survivors (Niall Carson/PA)

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A protest outside Leinster House against the Government’s planned redress scheme for mother and baby home survivors (Niall Carson/PA)

Under the current scheme, survivors of the mother and baby institutions will be eligible for payments of up to 65,000 euro.

However, babies born in an institution but spending less than six months there are not eligible for financial support.

Calls for it to be reviewed intensified following the High Court announcement in December.

Mr Martin said the concerns over access to personal information would be addressed in the forthcoming Information and Tracing Bill.

“The main fundamental objective of many of those who were born in mother and baby homes is to have full, unfettered access to data pertaining to their records,” he said.

“That also will now happen and it’s ground-breaking legislation, the kind of legislation that in the past, the Oireachtas was told it couldn’t do. But it’s being done now.”

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Anna Corrigan, whose mother and two brothers were in Tuam mother and baby home (Niall Carson/PA)

Anna Corrigan, whose mother and two brothers were in Tuam mother and baby home (Niall Carson/PA)

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Anna Corrigan, whose mother and two brothers were in Tuam mother and baby home (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Martin said there are questions as to whether a commission of investigation is suitable for historical inquiries of this kind.

“A previous Government set up the commission of investigation,” he said.

“Whether that’s actually the ideal model for an inquiry of this kind, I think, experience will show maybe different models.

“We have found it very difficult as a society and historically to get the ideal model to investigate the past and different aspects of the past.

“We would have set up the Laffoy Commission, which became the Ryan Commission on industrial schools.

“We were hoping that we would have a therapeutic forum, but it became too adversarial, too legal and many survivors of industrial schools didn’t get the opportunity to tell their story in a therapeutic context. It was meant to be a healing forum at the time.

“And then with regard to mother and baby homes, the Commission of Investigation was set up originally to expedite, accelerate making inquiries and investigations more efficient.

“There were broader dimensions to this issue and there are broader dimensions to the mother and baby homes phenomenon, given its history, how it evolved from the poor houses to county homes right through the different decades.

“And whether the commission of investigation was the ideal remains to be seen.”

He added: “That’s not casting any aspersions on those who carried out the inquiry.

“They had to carry it out within the terms of references and within the law laid down by that commission.

“Once the commission of investigation is established it’s absolutely independent of any government and this report stands there.”


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