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Children's toys and flowers at the 'Little Angels' memorial plot in the grounds of Bessborough, Cork (file photo) Laura Hutton/
department of children

Controversial Mother and Baby Home redress scheme will open for applications next month

People will be able to apply to the scheme from 20 March.

THE REDRESS SCHEME for survivors of mother and baby institutions is set to open for applications next month.

The controversial scheme was originally due to open last year but missed this deadline.

People will be able to apply to the scheme from 20 March onwards, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman has confirmed.

“I know that many survivors and former residents have been waiting for this news,” the minister said today.

“Given its scale, time has been needed to get the structures in place to open the scheme and, as we approach the opening date, staff are continuing to work hard, to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible for applicants.”

O’Gorman said that once the scheme opens, the Payment Scheme Office “will process all applications as quickly as possible, with the first payments expected to be made in quarter two of this year”.

He added that applications from older people will be “prioritised”.

The Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme Act 2023 was signed into law by President Higgins last July.

Ahead of the final Dáil vote on the legislation in February 2023, TDs labelled the Bill “morally obnoxious” and “callous” because it excludes people who spent less than six months in an institution as a child.

The scheme also does not specifically cater to people who were boarded out as children, a precursor to fostering; people who were subjected to vaccine trials; and people who experienced racism or other discrimination in the system.

Around 34,000 people will be eligible to apply for redress under the scheme, which is estimated to cost around €800 million. However, it’s estimated that around 24,000 survivors are excluded from the scheme.

Special Advocate

O’Gorman also today announced that he has appointed Patricia Carey to the role of Special Advocate for Survivors.

She will be tasked with promoting the “collective interests” of survivors “and to amplify their voices as a central, essential input to Government deliberations on matters which affect them”, a statement from the Department of Children noted.

Her remit will encompass Mother and Baby Institutions, County Home Institutions, Magdalene Laundries, Industrial and Reformatory Schools, and related institutions, and those adopted, boarded out or the subject of an illegal birth registration.

Carey was born in a mother and baby institution and was adopted.

She served as the CEO of the Adoption Authority of Ireland from 2014 to 2022, leading the authority’s work on the Birth Information and Tracing Act which gave adopted people a legal right to access to their birth certs and other personal records.

Carey previously held the voluntary role of Chairperson of Connect, a counselling service for survivors of institutional abuse. She also worked as Director of Services for St Vincent De Paul and was a founding member of Outhouse, a resource centre for the LGBT+ community.

She will take up her role as Special Advocate on 25 March.