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Varadkar supports investigation into 'disrespectful' leak of mother and baby home information

“I think it was very disrespectful the fact that elements of it were leaked and appeared in a Sunday paper,” the Tánaiste said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar
Image: RolingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said the leaking of details from the long-awaited final report by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation which were published in a newspaper prior to report’s release tomorrow is “regrettable”.

The Sunday Independent reported that the report will state that 9,000 children died in the 18 institutions investigated.

The newspaper, which directly quoted the Taoiseach in the article on the report, also revealed that Micheál Martin would be apologising on behalf of the State and “wider society” to the Dáil on Wednesday.

Quoting a statement from the Taoiseach, he said the report was “shocking and difficult to read”.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk, the Taoiseach said: ”In the modern era, various government reports – aspects of them – get leaked. And we will certainly be addressing that issue as well.”

The report shines a light on a “dark chapter in our history”, he said. 

“The government’s response will be comprehensive,” said Martin. “It has fallen to this generation” to deal with the issues, he added. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar earlier said it was “very disrespectful” that details from the report were leaked yesterday.

Speaking to Today FM this morning, Varadkar said he “absolutely” supports an investigation into who leaked the information.

“There are people who are survivors of mother and baby homes, they’re waiting five years for for this for this report, and I think it was very disrespectful the fact that elements of it were leaked and appeared in a Sunday paper.

“These are the people who deserve to see this report before everyone else and that hasn’t happened. Aspects of it were in the papers. Not all of it, thankfully,” Varadkar said.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman yesterday wrote to survivors’ groups to say that he was “deeply angered” about the leak.

On Twitter, O’Gorman said that he would seek an investigation into how the details became public.

“I’m seeking an investigation of how these sensitive details came into the public domain and will be raising it with Government colleagues,” O’Gorman said.

He said he was “very sorry” that survivors had found out details of the report in this way, adding that “it is not acceptable”.

O’Gorman is set to bring a memo on the final report to Cabinet tomorrow morning, paving the way for its release on the department’s website in the afternoon.

An online briefing between O’Gorman, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and survivors will take place prior to the report’s publication.

Varadkar today said survivors will have time to read the report tomorrow – they’re expected to be given a few hours – before the document published online.

“We want to give them time to read it because it’s a really big report, but I had it over the Christmas break and it took me a day really to read it, because it’s very, very long and very well done,” the Tánaiste said.

“I have to say the people who drew it up were very thorough, but I think we then need to hear from the survivors themselves and ask them to guide us as to how we can best respond to it.”

The document, spanning just under 3,000 pages, will detail the experiences of women and children who lived in 14 mother and baby homes and four county homes – a sample of the overall number of homes – between 1922 and 1998.

Counselling supports have been put in place for survivors.

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The National Counselling Service will provide therapy for survivors, either face-to-face, by telephone or online through secure video. Former residents may arrange counselling sessions by direct self-referral or by written referrals from health care professionals such as GPs.

An out-of-hours service, Connect Counselling, is also available to provide support and is currently providing an enhanced service from 6pm to 10pm seven days a week.

More information on the services can be read here.

We’ll be covering what’s in the final report on Tuesday – on the site and on Twitter (follow @orlaryan  and @conalthomas for updates). If you spent time in a mother and baby home or county home and would like to share your experience, please email orla@thejournal.ie or conal@thejournal.ie.

With reporting by Christina Finn

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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