Mother and Baby Homes Legislation too important to rush
Speaking before it is taken at second stage in the Seanad today, Labour Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Senator Ivana Bacik has outlined why her Party cannot support the rushing through of the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill 2020.
Senator Bacik said,
“Labour cannot support the way in which the Bill is being brought before the Seanad today, and we are calling on the Minister to engage in further consultation with the many people who will be and are affected by it, and to give us further time to consider the text and engage in scrutiny.
“We have submitted two amendments to the bill to address the concerns that have been raised with us about the transfer to Tusla of custody of records and also to provide for access by affected individuals and families to records concerning them or their relatives, even if that means disapplying the 30 year sealing rule. These important records must be respectfully preserved and rendered accessible in an anonymised or redacted manner to people.
“The Institutional abuse of women and children is a shameful mark on Ireland’s history. Not only do religious orders that were involved bear responsibility for this scandal; the State was also complicit throughout; it enabled religious orders to do its job, even after concerns had been raised. At this historical juncture, the State must not further entrench the pain and trauma of families by bringing about the sealing of records relating to the Mother and Baby Homes.
“My office has been flooded with thousands of emails about this issue since Monday night. I know that other members of the Oireachtas have received similar emails too. It is clear from the volume of correspondence that there are issues with the bill and with the Government’s proposal: it is beholden to us as political representatives to give a voice to people’s serious concerns.
“Labour Senators will stand for truth this week in the Seanad and I urge representatives from other parties to join us in doing so.”