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Children's Committee wants Chair of Mother and Baby Homes Commission to answer questions

Survivors will be asked to attend a separate hearing so they can raise any questions or concerns they have.

Kathleen Funchion
Kathleen Funchion
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE OIREACHTAS CHILDREN’S Committee is set to invite the chairperson of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes to appear before it.

The committee made the decision at a private meeting yesterday and plans to send a letter to Judge Yvonne Murphy, the chair of the three-person commission, in the coming days.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, whose department oversaw the release of the report, will be invited to attend a separate meeting with the committee.

Survivors will also be asked to attend another hearing so they can raise any questions or concerns they have.

The report, spanning 2,865 pages, details the experiences of women and children who lived in 14 mother and baby homes and four county homes between 1922 and 1998. It was published on 12 January, nearly six years after the commission was first set up.

Many survivors have criticised the report, in particular conclusions which state there was a lack of evidence of forced adoption and abuse, despite testimonies contradicting this.

Kathleen Funchion, the chairperson of the Committee on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, noted that Justice Murphy is not compelled to appear before the committee but she hopes the former judge will.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, Funchion said there is a lot of hurt and anger among survivors on foot of the report’s publication.

“People were led to believe that the reason it was going to take so long was because everything was going to be gone through with a fine tooth comb, it would be really well put together, really well researched and analysed.

“And it just seems like, at the end of the day, it was just rushed, or that’s how it reads.”

Forced adoption 

The finding that there was “little evidence” of forced adoption makes no sense Funchion said, noting that many survivors gave testimony about being forced to give their babies away.

“It’s just difficult to understand how they came to those conclusions.

“We just feel that there are certain questions that we could put to her on behalf of various survivors and survivors’ groups who may not have the opportunity to do that themselves.”

Minister O’Gorman will also be invited to appear before the committee to answer questions about redress and upcoming tracing and information legislation.

Funchion said the committee has a role to play in ensuring the government’s redress scheme and other support for survivors are “implemented” and, in some cases, “strengthened” or changed.

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For example, the government has committed form of “an enhanced medical card for anyone who spent more than six months in one of these institutions”. The committee wants this six-month limit to be removed so that anyone who spent time in the institutions can get an enhanced medical card.

The committee also wants to government to reject the recommendation “that women who entered Mother and Baby Homes after 1973 do not have a case for financial redress” because because the Unmarried Mothers Allowance was introduced in 1973, saying this is unfair.

In his State apology to survivors on 13 January, Taoiseach Micheál Martin thanked the three commissioners – Justice Murphy, Professor Mary Daly and Dr William Duncan – and their team, for their work on the report.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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