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Mother and Baby Homes Investigation costs top €12 million amid calls for a national archive of records

The Commission’s long-awaited final report has been delayed again for another four months due to Covid-19.

Flowers laid at Bessborough House in Blackrock, Cork.
Flowers laid at Bessborough House in Blackrock, Cork.
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE STATE HAS so far incurred costs of over €12 million for The Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes, figures released by The Department of Children and Youth Affairs show.  

The newly released costs come after it was announced the Commission’s long-awaited final report has been delayed again for another four months due to Covid-19. 

The report, which is now due in October and which the Commission has said is “very close to completion”, was due to be delivered in February but was further delayed due to what it said were “complex issues” during the course of its investigations. 

The extension to October was agreed in a meeting with former Minister Katherine Zappone in June. 

The Commission was established to inquire into the treatment of – and dealings with – women and children in 14 Mother-and-Baby Homes and four county homes between 1922 and 1998.

It was set up following claims that up to 800 babies may have been interred in an unmarked mass grave in the Bon Secours Mother-and-Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway. 

Since the Commission was established in 2015, the State has spent €10.8 million to support salaries, fees and operational costs.

A further €2.4 million was spent responding to the Commission’s interim reports, of which there have been five. 

“This includes the costs associated with the separate Collaborative Forum process to facilitate former residents of these institutions to engage on the issues of concern to them and their families,” Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Roderic O’Gorman said today. 

Costs also included an “extensive public information campaign” to engage former residents as well as costs incurred for meetings and travel arrangements. 

Dr Maeve O’Rourke, lecturer at NUI Galway’s centre for human rights, has called on the Government to start planning in establishing a care-related National Archive of Records to “safeguard  and make available to survivors their own personal data.”

It was estimated in 2015 that the costs of the Commission could reach €21 million the time of its completion. 

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O’Rourke says that if there is money left over it should be used to provide access to records gathered by the Commission, and criticised the manner in which the Commission has operated “wholly in private”. 

“Once its work is finished, the Commission’s records need to be opened up,” she said. 

Last week, Minister O’Gorman said families and former residents will be “deeply disappointed” with the delay in delivering the Commission’s final report. 

“I know that they understand that this Commission is investigating personal and sensitive matters which happened over a period of more than 75 years. So there are multiple lines of inquiry being pursued in the course of this complex statutory investigation,” he said. 

“My Department will continue to use existing channels of communication to ensure that former residents, their families and supporters are the first to know of any developments in respect of these matters.

“I share the wish of all interested parties to see the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matter to conclude its work as quickly as possible.”

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