Republic of Ireland news

Leo Varadkar calls on Mother and Baby Homes commission to appear before Oireachtas

Flowers laid at the scene of a mass grave at a former mother and baby home where the remains of almost 800 babies were found in Tuam, Co Galway
James Ward, PA

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has called on members of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes to explain its findings to survivors and the Oireachtas “without delay.”

One of the commissioners, Professor Mary Daly, provoked anger yesterday when she discussed the report at an online history event organised by Oxford’s Hertford College.

Prior to that, none of the commissioners had discussed the findings in public, despite requests by the Oireachtas Children’s Committee for chairperson Judge Yvonne Murphy to appear before it.

Prof Daly defended the report’s findings at the Oxford event, but admitted the commission discounted the testimony of hundreds of survivors because it was given in private.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions today, the Tánaiste said her actions had disrespected survivors and the Oireachtas.

He told the Dáil: “To my mind, what happened after (the report was complete), that was not acceptable. Essentially, the report was left on the desks of the government and Oireachtas members alike.

“The commission’s members did not engage with the Oireachtas or the survivors either to explain the report, tell us how they came to their findings or answer any questions.

“That was not the correct course of action on the part of commission members.

“That has now been compounded by the fact that one of the commission members felt it appropriate to do exactly that in an academic seminar.

“That was disrespectful to the Oireachtas and particularly to survivors and their advocates.”

He called on the commission members to come before the Oireachtas and explain why they came to their findings “without delay”.

He added: “They should also have a similar engagement with the survivors.That was done after previous reports of this nature, including the Ryan, Scally and McAleese reports.”

The issue was raised by Labour party leader Alan Kelly, who said the report would have to be done again.

He said: “The evidence indicates that survivors’ testimony given confidentially was not taken on board.

“This was clear to many once the report came out but we have now heard it from one of three people on the commission. This was for very tenuous legal reasons.

“I have a very clear question for the Tánaiste. Does he accept, based on what we now know clearly, that the report must be repudiated?

“As Dr Maeve O’Rourke of the Clann Project, a supporter of the survivors, has stated, we cannot accept this report. It is not valid, fully truthful or a historical record.”

Mr Varadkar responded: “Given that this academic symposium happened yesterday, I can see no excuse or valid reason for the commission members not to be willing to do this without delay.”

The Tánaiste called on the members of the commission to clarify how they treated the evidence.

He said: “Only the commission members can clarify how they treated the evidence and testimony given by women survivors to the confidential committee.

“If they discounted it entirely, it is a serious problem and it would put a question mark over the validity of the report.”


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