Government will consider redress issue – Zappone

Issue of redress for people in mother and baby homes not ruled out says Minister

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone: “It does not mean that we have closed off redress for those who have been in mother and baby homes.” Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has insisted the Government will consider redress for people in other mother and baby homes once the commission of investigation has finished its final report.

Ms Zappone was sharply criticised in the Dáil for “adding to the abuse” over the Government’s response to the publication of the second interim report, seven months after it was received.

And Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton called for the "cowardly unnamed Minister" referred to in an Irish Times report, to "out themselves". The Minister was quoted as saying the sky would be the limit on potential future State liabilities if redress from other institutions was accepted.

Ms Zappone said she had not information about that Minister. She said that in 2010 the government took a decision not to extend the redress scheme following publication of the Ryan report on institutional abuse. The last government also decided in 2013 not to extend the scheme.


But Ms Burton said the Government’s reaction was a “slap in the face” to survivors and “the ruling out of redress was stupid and foolish in a commission report that made no findings of fact”.

Independents4Change TD Clare Daly said the Government's "unwillingness to look at the issue of redress is an appalling slur on the victims". But she added that redress was never at the heart of this issue.

Stolen lives

“It was always about stolen lives, stolen identities, broken families and no amount of money could compensate for that,” she said. People wanted an acknowledgement about what was done to them with the knowledge of the State.

“The fact of financing did give the State the ultimate regulatory power, that is, the power to close the institutions. The State is responsible and we have to deal with it.”

And she was concerned by Ms Zappone’s claims that the focus of the report “is on children who were unaccompanied by their mothers into mother and baby homes. I don’t think that is the case”.

Independent Catherine Connolly described the distinction between accompanied and unaccompanied as "an absolute shame on the Government".

She said the Minister had added to the abuse and was “going all over the place” in relation to “waffly consultations”, a scoping exercise and transitional justice. People affected wanted to know about issues such as access to records, and extension of the terms of reference.

Ms Connolly also told the Minister “you’ve left it to a local GP who happens to be a busy coroner to look after the site” in Tuam.

But Ms Zappone replied: “I want to say very clearly in terms of the Government’s response, it does not mean that we have closed off redress for those who have been in mother and baby homes.”

When the commission finished its report “then we will have opportunity to consider redress for people in those institutions, if it is part of their recommendations or even if it is not”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times