21 March 2017

Tonight in the Dáil, Labour Party spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs, Jan O’Sullivan, has moved an amendment to the Sinn Féin Private Members’ motion to establish a Truth Commission in relation to Mother and Baby Homes

“It is widely accepted now that the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes need to be expanded and that the intention to examine just 14 Mother and Baby Homes and 4 County Homes will leave far too many stories and lives buried forever.

“The amendment I am proposing focuses on the publication of the interim report that has been with the Minister for 6 months and the expansion of the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry.

“We believe that this is the most urgent priority.  We also want to ensure that the establishment of a Truth Commission does not obstruct the right of those women who were put into Homes and had their babies taken from them to legal redress.

“Thanks to Catherine Corless, we now have some knowledge of the heartless and immoral way in which women and babies were treated in one Home; but there is a great deal more to learn and there are many people amongst us who have had to live their lives with the hurt, rejection and separation they experienced in the many places around the country where those society wanted to hide were incarcerated.

“They should have the opportunity to give testimony, as the motion proposes, but they should also be consulted directly on the best way to do this and the amendment the Labour Party is proposing specifically calls for the terms of reference to be subject to the agreement of former residents.

“Our amendment also requires the Government to report back to the Dáil within one month.  Whatever the merits of the various proposals being debated tonight from different political parties, they cannot be allowed to delay the work of the Commission that has already begun, or the expansion of the scope of that work. So many of our fellow citizens have waited long enough for the light to get in to the dark corners in which they were hidden.”

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