Government must not delay in providing medical cards to all survivors of Mother and Baby Homes

Seán Sherlock TD
24 February 2021

Labour Spokesperson on Social Protection and Cork East TD Seán Sherlock welcomed the acceptance of the Labour Party amendment to ensure any survivor from Mother and Baby Homes is entitled to an enhanced medical card. The arbitrary six month rule proposed by the Minister is wrong, and fundamentally misunderstands the experience of survivors.

Deputy Sherlock said:

“The publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report has provided us with new insights into Ireland’s appalling treatment of women and children over many decades. It was only right that the Government accepted the Labour amendment to ensure the provision of a medical card to all survivors of Mother and Baby Homes. A six month clause as proposed by the Minister is not only cruel, it shows the lack of understanding he has for the reality of survivor’s lived experience.

“This failure to grasp the reality for survivors is no doubt in part due to the tone of the Report issued by the Commission. Language matters, compassion matters and the Government has an opportunity to prove its commitment to survivors by issuing medical cards to all without delay.

“Labour has also proposed legislation to address the calls of survivors who were adopted and their right to information. There is an urgent need to legislate for robust and effective information and tracing rights for adopted persons – and successive governments have spent years examining how best to formulate such legislation. The Labour Bill would address the matter by enabling adopted persons to obtain the information necessary to access their birth certificate. The current State policy is overly skewed towards privacy rights. Currently, unless a natural mother has indicated her preference for contact, her presumed wish for secrecy overrides the adopted adult’s right to know their identity. Our Bill would simply reverse that presumption and prioritise the calls of survivors in this regard.

“The real test of the Government’s commitment to survivors will be the Minister’s will to take action on the issue swiftly to enable survivors to begin rebuilding their lives. If you spent so much as a moment in any home you should have a medical card. Anything other than that, is just cruel. We need to, as a State, work constructively from this point onwards to secure justice for the many persons who have experienced institutional abuse in this country.”

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