Bill set to enable redress for mother and baby homes survivors

Proposal go to Cabinet in April but interim payments for women ruled out

A Bill to give survivors of mother and baby homes redress payments is to go to Cabinet in April, but interim payments to the women have been effectively ruled out.

Survivors of the institutions are to receive payments of up to €65,000 as part of a scheme agreed by Ministers in November. There will be another work-related payment, ranging from €1,500 to €60,000, for women who were resident in certain institutions for more than three months and undertook what might be termed commercial work.

There has been criticism of the length of time it is expected to take to establish the scheme given the advancing age of some survivors, with the system unlikely to be in operation until the end of the year or later.

Meanwhile, a long-awaited burials Bill will go to Cabinet on Tuesday to allow for the excavation of sites such as the Tuam mother and baby home.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman is expected to leave Cabinet early to brief survivors before the legislation is published. Sources say “substantial changes” have been made to the mooted legislation.

In relation to the payment scheme, Labour TD Ivana Bacik asked Mr O’Gorman about providing an interim payment while the scheme was finalised, but he said it was not clear how quickly this could be done.

“I fully understand the sense of urgency in relation to the establishment of the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme. I have been given Government approval to bring forward legislation on the basis of the agreed proposals for the scheme, and my officials are working on drafting a general scheme of a Bill as a matter of a priority.

“Once the legislation has been passed by the Oireachtas and the administrative infrastructure required to deliver the scheme has been established, the scheme will be open for applications. I hope that this will be possible by the end of 2022.”

Priority

On an interim payment scheme for older survivors, he said: “My focus is on delivering the scheme itself as quickly as possible. Once the scheme is open for applications it is intended that priority will be given to those who are elderly and any other categories deemed appropriate for prioritisation.

“As the design of the scheme is predicated on a single payment based on evidence of residency, it is not clear how any interim arrangement could be designed more quickly than the scheme itself.”

He said this was because the same administrative infrastructure must be established to receive applications and make payments regardless of whether it is an interim payment or otherwise.