Draft mother and baby homes inquiry terms circulated

James Reilly says memo on topic to be brought to Cabinet ‘as soon as possible’

The draft terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into the mother and baby homes have now been circulated among all the relevant departments, Minister for Children James Reilly has said. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

The draft terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into the mother and baby homes have now been circulated among all the relevant departments, Minister for Children James Reilly has said. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

 

The draft terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes have now been circulated among all the relevant departments, Minister for Children James Reilly has said.

The Government announced the establishment of a commission of inquiry in May, following revelations about the deaths of almost 800 children at Tuam mother and baby home. The commission of inquiry will be chaired by Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy.

Dr Reilly said he was now waiting for the input of officials from the departments which include the departments of Health, Justice, Foreign Affairs, Education, Social Protection, Environment and Taoiseach.

“They’ll come back to us and then we’ll go to the Attorney General with the final draft because this has to be done with particular care because of its impact on so many different people,” Dr Reilly said.

He said he wanted to ensure that the terms of reference were wide enough and addressed all the questions that needed to be answered. He said it was important that the inquiry was “efficient and timely so that it doesn’t take forever to come to a conclusion to the dismay of those who want answers”.

Dr Reilly said he also wanted to consult with the Opposition parties and other interested parties before the terms of reference were signed off. Asked if this consultation process would take weeks or months, he said: “no, not months. It will be in the next number of weeks and I will be bringing a memo to Cabinet as soon as possible”.

He has already said the scope of the investigation will go beyond Tuam and will include the Bethany Home. Several groups have been lobbying for wider terms of reference for the inquiry. A delegation of 35 travelled to Brussels last month to seek support from MEPs for a broader remit in the terms of reference.

Dr Reilly was speaking after he addressed a conference on childhood bereavement at Dublin Castle.

When he was minister for health earlier this year, Dr Reilly announced a plan to extend eligibility for medical cards to people with specified illnesses and appointed a expert panel to look at how to do this.

Asked about the view of expert panel that it was “neither feasible nor desirable” to prioritise medical conditions for medical card eligibility, Dr Reilly said: “We’ll be awaiting Minister Varadkar’s report on that when it comes to Cabinet.”