Government has no plans to disown mother and baby homes report

Pressure to remain on commission members to take questions in Oireachtas

The Government has no plans to disown the report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes but will continue to press the members of the commission to appear at an Oireachtas committee to answer questions about its findings and methodologies.

Senior sources said on Sunday night that the report and the commission would be strongly defended in court actions by survivors critical of the report due to heard next week.

But there is a growing sense in Government that further actions will be required to respond to survivors’ concerns.

In a statement over the weekend, Taoiseach Micheál Martin pointed to the contribution of commission member Prof Mary Daly to an Oxford University seminar and said that he hoped “an approach could be agreed for the methodology and terms of reference of this report to be shared with the Oireachtas Committee.


Historical inquiries

“The commission is independent, but I believe it would be helpful if a modus operandi could be found. There is no doubt this is a challenging area, the commission carried out very comprehensive work, and the Oireachtas needs to look collectively at how historical inquiries are undertaken in future,” he said.

Mr Martin said that the Government was “reflecting on the situation and Minister [for Children Roderic] O’Gorman will come back to Cabinet with ways how we can best give a voice to the survivors”.

Mr O’Gorman said he would bring proposals to Cabinet next week for an independent expert to examine the report and the testimonies given by survivors “through a human rights lens”. It is thought the results of this work could “sit alongside the commission report”, which the Government hopes would satisfy the demands of survivors for their stories to be included in the State’s official report.

Significant sympathy

But there remains deep unease over the issue in Government, with some elements insisting that the report must be fully stood over by the State, while there is also significant sympathy with the position of the survivors.

There is also concern at the political consequences of being in conflict with the survivors. Many survivors and their advocates have called for the report to be repudiated.

A series of High Court challenges have been launched against the report and it is expected the Government will set out its position on the cases on Tuesday, though senior figures insisted the cases would be defended strongly.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times