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Mother-and-baby home survivors concerned over ministerial switch-around

James Reilly has taken over at the Department of Children — just days before the establishment of the large-scale inquiry into mother-and-baby homes.


CAMPAIGNERS REPRESENTING SURVIVORS of mother-and-baby institutions have raised concerns over Charlie Flanagan being moved from the Department of Children so close to the expected establishment of the Government’s large-scale Commission of Inquiry.

It’s expected the Commission, announced in the wake of the recent controversy over the mass grave at the mother-and-baby home in Tuam, will be established in the coming week, before the Oireachtas summer break.

Flanagan — who only took over in the Department at the start of May, following Frances Fitzgerald’s move to Justice — became Minister for Foreign Affairs in Friday’s reshuffle. He’s been replaced by former Health Minister James Reilly.

In recent weeks, he’s been heading up an interdepartmental review of existing information about the state’s network of mother-and-baby homes and other related institutions.

Interest groups, survivors, academics with expertise in the area, and politicians from both sides of the aisle have also been meeting with Flanagan to outline their priorities for the inquiry.

Representatives of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors — who met with Flanagan just 24 hours before the reshuffle — said that while they were optimistic about Reilly taking over, they were concerned that the switch was made so soon before the establishment of the inquiry.

“Were trying to be a positive as we can be about it,” said Paul Redmond of the Adoption Rights Now Group.

The entire meeting we had with the Minister was written down and the Secretary General of the Department was very involved too.

And while Redmond said the switch around could “throw everything up in the air” he welcomed Reilly’s appointment.

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“I’d be encouraged to see him come in because of his medical background and that he’s coming from the Department of Health.”

Clodagh Malone of Beyond Adoption Ireland, who was also at Thursday’s meeting, echoed Redmond’s assessment of Reilly.

I’m quite happy with him. As an adopted person I really think he’s on the ball with issues surrounding children and youth affairs.

However, Malone said she had expected continuity in the Department, and that she had been “very, very surprised” at Flanagan’s departure.

The Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors, which represents a number of groups, are seeking a meeting with Reilly in advance of the announcement of the Commission, both Redmond and Malone said.

Read ‘There’s a nurse leaving the room with my baby… I said to my sister “where’s she gone?”….’

Read Boyd Barrett: ‘I was born in a mother-and-baby scheme. I’m one of the lucky ones’

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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