ARA and JFMR cautiously welcome Minister Zappone’s announcement

Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) and Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) have cautiously welcomed Minister Katherine Zappone’s announcement today in relation to the ongoing investigations into conditions at Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes. In particular, we welcome the Minister’s openness to exploring whether broader Terms of Reference for the Commission of Investigation might be appropriate, and we look forward to engaging with her in this regard.

We welcome the appointment of Ms Niamh McCullagh and her team of international experts who will advise on issues concerning the burial site at the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. However, we reiterate that Tuam is not an isolated case. Thus far we are aware that there may be similar unmarked graves at the sites of institutions run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary at Bessborough, Sean Ross Abbey and Castlepollard. Indeed, we are aware of over 180 institutions, agencies and individuals who were involved with Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children. Little is known of the conditions and practices - including burial practices and grave locations - of these institutions, most of which are not on the Commission’s Terms of Reference. Moreover, JFMR has consistently publicised the fact that many women who died in Magdalene Laundries also remain unidentified and in unmarked graves.

JFMR and ARA also welcome the appointment of Dr James Gallen who is assisting the Minister in mapping out a possible transitional justice model on this issue. We have serious concerns about the ability of the existing Commission of Investigation to provide restorative justice and access to the truth for those affected by Ireland's policy towards unmarried mothers and their children. The Commissions of Investigation Act 2004 enshrines a secret approach to investigations, which continues and entrenches the State’s established practice of secrecy when it comes to investigating our history of institutional abuse and other issues of corruption and trauma. The private investigative approach has failed to gain public trust because it signals that the State is not prepared to hold itself or the religious congregations properly to account for the systemic failings of the past. We look forward to hearing the Minister’s announcement on the proposed transitional justice model.

We acknowledge and welcome the Minister’s efforts to improve communications from her department regarding the Mother and Baby Homes investigations. We look forward to participating in the upcoming facilitated consultations on health and well-being support, and we note the Minister’s request to Tusla ‘to enhance its capacity for the provision of information to assist former residents who may wish to establish when they resided in a Mother and Baby Home’. However, in this context we wish to reiterate our deep concerns regarding the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016, which, in its current format, serves to perpetuate the stigmatisation and suffering of the very same cohort that the Minister is seeking to assist through today’s announcements. The Adoption Bill and the ongoing investigations into conditions in Mother and Baby Homes cannot and must not be dealt with in isolation from each other. We also call on the Minister to make provisions to ensure that the administrative records of all agencies and institutions are made available to stakeholders.

Although the closing date for applications to meet the Commission’s Confidential Committee was 1st March, JFMR and ARA remind those who wish to give evidence to the Commission that they can still do so by simply sending in a written statement which can be verified by affidavit. Those who wish to avail of free witness statement drafting assistance can do so through the Clann project, which is a joint initiative of JFMR and ARA, in association with global law firm Hogan Lovells. For further information visit www.clannproject.org or write to Rod Baker, Hogan Lovells International LLP, Atlantic House, Holborn Viaduct, London EC1A 2FG. [See also Notes to Editors]

Notes to editors:

Clann Contact Details: info@clannproject.org

Clann Information Pack: http://clannproject.org/wp-content/uploads/Clann-Information-Pack.zip

Clann Short Films:

About the Project & How to Participate:          https://youtu.be/YSHaL2i4aMw

Philomena Lee and Jane Libberton:               https://youtu.be/gUZRJC6ePDM

Mari Steed:                                                      https://youtu.be/hVkHQclGK14

Maeve O’Rourke, Clann Legal Advisor:         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQJHbvb–rs

Rod Baker, Hogan Lovells:                             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWj25ZjGj6w

Please note that Adoption Rights Alliance, Justice for Magdalenes Research and Hogan Lovells plan to submit the Clann group report at the end of September. Therefore, if you wish to have your experiences included in the group submission, you will need to have your statement completed by 31st August.

For current witnesses who are already engaged in the process, this means that you should ensure that you respond to any correspondence from Hogan Lovells about drafts of your statement, and/or regarding your consent form.

For new witnesses who wish to avail of the statement-drafting assistance, this means that you should email statements@clannproject.org as soon as possible, as the statement-drafting process can take at least a number of weeks to complete.

Please note that this does not mean that the free statement-drafting assistance will discontinue after the 31st August deadline. You are very welcome to contact us for assistance after this time, but we cannot guarantee that your experiences will appear in the Clann group report.

 

Commission of Investigation Publishes Interim Report

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes has published its first interim report. In the report, the Commission requested an extension of its timeframe for the publication of the Report of the Confidential Committee and the Report of the Academic Social History module. All three reports (including that of the Investigation Committee) are now due to be published in February 2018. Click here to download the Interim Report from the Commission of Investigation Click here to download the government FAQ document on the decision to extend the timeframe for the Commission's Reports Click here to download press release from Minister for Children, Dr Katherine Zappone, TD

Parliamentary Questions: Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

3rd November 2015, Question asked by Robert Dowds, TD 628. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs his views on a submission (details supplied) regarding the mother and baby homes commission of investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Response from James Reilly, then Minister for Children The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters was established by Government Order on 17 February 2015 (S.I. No 57 of 2015). It is essential to recognise that in accordance with Section 9 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, a Commission of Investigation is entirely independent in the performance of its functions. I am therefore not in a position to comment on any submissions made to the Commission nor would it be appropriate for me to do so. The Deputy may wish to contact the Commission directly at; Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, 73 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2 or by email info@mbhcoi.ie This question has been downloaded from kildarestreet.com (original link here )

Parliamentary Questions: Departmental Advertising Expenditure

13th January 2016, Question asked by Aengus Ó Snodaigh, TD 527. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the annual cost to his Department of advertisements placed on its behalf in newspapers, magazines, television and radio, and social media. Response from James Reilly, then Minister for Children The Department of Children and Youth Affairs website is the primary resource in providing information for use by the public and an essential communications tool for my Department. My Department occasionally uses free tools e.g. Twitter and YouTube, to communicate with the public. On occasion, my Department may provide public information through other media e.g. electronic, broadcast and print media where a requirement for alternative platforms of information is required. In 2015 my Department spent the following on advertising as referred to in the question. €60,977.44 spent in relation to public radio and print media advertisements re the establishment of the Commission of Investigation (Mother & Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters) €6279.15 in total spent with regard to Department advertisements in the State Directory; Golden Pages phone books & website; and eircom phone books for 2015/2016. This question has been downloaded from kildarestreet.com (original link here )

Parliamentary Questions: Appointments to State Boards

13th January, 2016 Question from Colm Keaveney TD 524. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the names of the persons he has nominated to serve in positions carrying remuneration, other than out-of-pocket expenses, on commissions, industrial, assurance, semi-State or other similar concerns; the amounts received annually in respect of each appointment; the name of the concern to which the appointment was made during the years 2011 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Response from James Reilly, then Minister for Children As Minister I may nominate and appoint individuals to bodies within my Department's remit (subject to Government approval in certain circumstances) and nominate individuals to bodies under the remit of other Ministers. I have set out below relevant details since my appointment as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on 11th July 2014 and the respective remunerations. Adoption Authority of Ireland (nominated and appointed) Board Member    Annual Remuneration Dr. Geoffrey Shannon (Chair)    €63,120 Orlaith Traynor    €7,695 Paul Harrison    €7,695 Dr. Helen Buckley* Anne O'Flaherty    €7,695 Patrick McMahon    €7,695 Dr. Imelda Ryan    €7,695 * It should be noted that in line with the 'One Person One Salary' principle, no public servant is entitled to receive remuneration in the form of board fees, save for situations that are provided for in statute. Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters) -(nominated and appointed) Commissioners    Annual Remuneration Judge Yvonne Murphy (Chair)    €172,710 (High Court Judge equivalent remuneration) Professor Mary E. Daly     €585 per diem (approx. 110 days per annum) Dr. William Duncan    €585 per diem (approx 110 days per annum) This question has been downloaded from kildarestreet.com (original link here )

Parliamentary Questions: Public Inquiries

28th January 2016, Questions asked by Lucinda Creighton TD 227. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of tribunals of inquiry, commissions of inquiry or investigations for which he or his Department have been responsible by name; by terms of reference; by cost, including the cost to date where an inquiry has not been concluded; by date including the projected date of conclusion where an inquiry has not been concluded from 1991 to date, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. Response from James Reilly, then Minister for Children My Department was established on 2 June, 2011. There is one body of the type referred to in the question. Commissions of Investigation: 1 Name:    Commission of Investigation - Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters Terms of Reference:     Set out in the schedule to S.I. No. 57 of 2015 Cost to Date (to 26/01/2016):   €1.78 million (This includes set-up costs and costs incurred by DCYA in supporting the Commission) Projected Date of Conclusion:   The Commission is required to complete a final report not later than February 2018   This question has been downloaded from kildarestreet.com (original link here )

Parliamentary Questions: Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

22 March 2016, Questions asked by Maureen O'Sullivan TD 268. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the numbers of mixed-race Irish babies and children in the 16 mother and baby homes including St. Patrick's, Navan Road, Dublin 7; if St. Patrick's was the designated holding centre for all mixed-race Irish babies and children from across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Response from James Reilly, then Minister for Children The Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related matters) is tasked with thoroughly examining the experiences of mothers and children resident in these homes. With regard to the particular focus raised by the Deputy, the Commission will specifically examine whether any group of residents was systematically treated differently on any grounds, including that of race. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs does not have information on the numbers of mixed race children who may have been in the Mother and Baby Homes. There is no centralised records system for the fourteen (14) specified homes that are under investigation by the Commission but the Deputy may wish to note that certain records from several of these homes, including Saint Patrick's, are now in the possession of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I am satisfied that the Commission has sufficient scope and statutory power to access records and obtain the information necessary to make a determination on all relevant matters. Should the Deputy wish to contact the independent Commission directly it can be contacted at 73 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2, e-mail info@mbhcoi.ie or freephone 1800 806688.

This question has been downloaded from kildarestreet.com (original link here )

Parliamentary Questions: Garda Investigations

21st April 2016, Questions asked by Clare Daly, TD 42. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if a criminal investigation into allegations (details supplied) has been instigated by An Garda Síochána; if the Garda has taken possession of these files; if not, the reasons; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
 
43. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the Tuam, County Galway, site has not been cordoned off as a crime scene in view of the information in an article (details supplied).
 
Response from Minister Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 43 together.As the Deputy is aware, the instigation and management of any criminal investigation is a matter for the Garda authorities, as are any operational steps which might be taken in relation to the gathering and preservation of evidence. I hope the Deputy will appreciate that I have no role in this regard.The Deputy will also recall that in February 2015 the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs established a Commission of Investigation which has been tasked with thoroughly examining the experience of vulnerable mothers and children resident in Mother and Baby Homes during the period 1922 to 1998, including the arrangements for the placement of children, whether in Ireland or abroad. The work of this Commission is ongoing and the Commission has the necessary powers to comprehensively examine the broad range of public concerns that have been expressed in relation to Mother and Baby homes.

This question has been downloaded from kildarestreet.com (original link here )