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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C Martin said it was a "dark chapter in our past" and he wants "openness, honesty and transparency" around what happened.

Taoiseach says he's determined to have Mother and Baby Homes report published 'as quickly as possible'

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is due to receive the report tomorrow.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said there is a determination in government to have the report of the Commission into Mother and Baby Homes published “as quickly as possible”.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is due to receive the report, which runs to about 4,000 pages in length, on Friday.

Speaking to reporters in Government Buildings today, the Taoiseach said the government wants the report “published as quickly as we possibly can”.

Once the report is given to the minister, it will also have to go to the Attorney General for legal reasons.

“I can’t put an exact timeline on it, but the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned,” said Martin.

Coalition TDs have said that the government was taken aback by the backlash to last week’s Mother and Baby Homes Bill. Minister Michael McGrath said yesterday that it was never the intention for the bill to cause “such anxiety and anger”. 

The Taoiseach said he agreed that survivors’ groups should have been met with before the bill was published.

However, he said there was never an attempt to bury information.

“We have no agenda to bury anything, why would we?” he asked.

Martin said it was a “dark chapter in our past” and he wants “openness, honesty and transparency” around what happened.

“Our first concern is the survivors. I think everyone needs to look at last weekend, including the government, because there was a lot written actually that doesn’t stand up and didn’t stand up if I am honest about it,” he said.

Speaking today, the Taoiseach said that if the legislation at the centre of last week’s controversy had not been passed, it would have subsequently emerged that the database would have been destroyed.

The Taoiseach said that he doesn’t want information relating to commissions of investigations surrounding abuse that are held in the Department of An Taoiseach sealed off.

He wants to see a centre established where archives from commissions can be held, which can be accessed by survivors and academics.

It is envisaged that records relating to mother-and-baby homes, Magdalene laundries and industrial schools will be held in this archive. However, the Taoiseach said it shouldn’t just be an archive, but should “tell a story” about Ireland’s dark past.

The issue around tracing legislation has surfaced previously, said the Taoiseach highlighting that last year, there were similar issues with adoption legislation.

The then Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone received legal advice that there must be some protection of birth parents’ constitutional right to privacy reflected in adoption legislation.

The minister also said at the time that no consensus had been reached on the issue of the release of birth information despite significant efforts being made.

Martin said that legislation had to be pulled back because of controversy around challenges and disputes, and the level and degree of access to records.

“Our objective is to bring that legislation back to the Oireachtas. Obviously the minister is working on it in terms of that very issue in terms of access to records… in terms of unfettered access,” he said.

The government’s dispositions is towards giving access but “one cannot ignore the privacy argument either”, said Martin.

The future tracing legislation will have to include the full consultation with all the groups representing survivors, he said.

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