Seanad leader calls for independent review of mother and baby homes report

Doherty says Government should commission review of ‘cold and callous’ report

Seanad leader Regina Doherty. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Seanad leader Regina Doherty. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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An independent review of the mother and baby homes report should be commissioned by the Government, the Seanad leader Regina Doherty has said.

The Fine Gael Senator has described last week’s report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes as “cold” and “callous” and claimed it would be wrong to accept it.

“I don’t think it’s good enough to stand as our nation’s response to our women and I think it should be reviewed,” she said, speaking on RTÉ radio.

“This report does a huge disservice to treat them with language that’s so callous and as cold and completely lacks in empathy. I think the mantra of ‘no evidence’ completely ignores the testimony of the women’s lived experiences when we ask these women to come forward and to share their experiences so that we could listen to them.

“I think in places, in lots of places, the commission’s report feels like we only listen to them to reply, we didn’t listen to them to hear them, or to heal them.”

Ms Doherty added that “we accepted the report and I think that’s wrong”.

She told RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor show: “The Seanad is returning on Tuesday and the only business that we have on Tuesday is with Minister [for Children]Roderic O’Gorman and I am going to ask him to independently review, to have a document that actually acknowledges with empathy, with care, with understanding of the real lived experiences of these women.”

‘Questionable’

Green Party Minister of State for Community Joe O’Brien said some of the language in the report was “questionable”.

“I got my pen out myself when I was going through the report and circled some very questionable language to say the least. But I would caution against throwing the whole report out.”

He told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that the “wealth” held by religious orders should be relinquished.

“I think we will all be watching very closely how they [religious congregations] engage in terms of their contribution in terms of redress. There is a significant amount of wealth held by some of these orders and I can’t see how they can justify holding on to that bar to facilitate their subsistence and some of the services they provide.”

Meanwhile Independent TD Catherine Connolly has also said the Government needs to re-examine its response to the report.

“Government needs to look at the testimonies of the women who came forward and ensure that each woman and man gets a copy of their testimony. Then we need to re-look at a report that’s based on the actual evidence given by the women, that will be the first thing,” she said.

“The more that I read the report the more upset I get in relation to the narrative of this report. Let me acknowledge some of the good conclusions, and the women who came forward as the true heroes of this.”

“We have three academics in charge of this. I listened to [former president] Mary McAleese yesterday and she described it as a scholarly piece of research. I absolutely see no evidence of that. It makes conclusions that have no connection with the evidence given. It paraphrases, summarises and makes mistakes.”