Approval of Mother and Baby Homes redress scheme delayed until next Dáil term

Government is working on the basis it will need €1bn to provide even ‘modest redress’ to survivors of the Mother and Baby Homes

Roderic O’Gorman: he said the “restorative recognition scheme” would include a financial payment and a form of enhanced medical card.   Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Roderic O’Gorman: he said the “restorative recognition scheme” would include a financial payment and a form of enhanced medical card. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The approval of a planned redress scheme for survivors of Mother and Baby Homes has been delayed until the next Dáil term.

It had been expected that the scheme would be brought to Cabinet before the summer recess but this did not happen.

In response to a parliamentary question from Independent TD Catherine Connolly, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said he now intended to bring the proposals forward “early in the next Dáil term”.

Mr O’Gorman said the “restorative recognition scheme” would include a financial payment and a form of enhanced medical card.

“An interdepartmental group [IDG] was set up to develop detailed proposals for the scheme, taking account of the recommendations of the commission [Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation] but not limited to those recommendations.

“The work of the IDG was guided by a human rights focus and informed by consultation with survivors which took place during March and April, with a strong response received to that consultation process.

“The work of the interdepartmental group is effectively complete, and I look forward to receiving its final report and bringing proposals to Cabinet for approval early in the next Dáil term.”

Once it has been approved by Cabinet, the Department of Children would make the scheme available for applications “as soon as possible in 2022”,

The Government is working on the basis that it will need up to €1 billion to provide even “modest redress” to survivors of Mother and Baby Homes and it has been pressing church leaders to make significant contributions.

Last month academics and legal experts released an “alternative executive summary” of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation’s final report.

The alternative summary found that Mother and Baby Home residents were subjected to involuntary detention, forced labour and illegal adoption.

Ms Connolly has urged Mr O’Gorman to append the alternative report to the work of the commission, but the Minister said he does not have the legal authority to do this.

He said that although the academics in this instance did not have the powers and reach of a statutory commission of investigation, or access to the commission’s full archive of records, their report was a “valuable exercise because a plurality of voices and analyses can add to the understanding of our shared history”.

Historical research

“The commission’s terms of reference specifically acknowledge the importance of its work in supporting further historical research. I, therefore, welcome this academic engagement, and the Government has committed to supporting further research and access to records as key parts of our response to the commission’s report.

“The authors recognise that this is a creative academic exercise and not intended to replace the executive summary of the commission’s report but, rather, to examine whether alternative findings were possible to those reached by the commission.

“It is important to recognise that the commission’s reports were prepared and submitted in accordance with a robust statutory framework. Therefore, despite the suggestion by the Deputy, I do not have the legal authority to append material to the report of an independent statutory inquiry.”