Words: Ellen Kenny
Despite criticism of the Commission, the Government has decided to reject an independent review of the Commission’s report.
The Government has rejected an independent review of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report, even though campaigners have criticised the legitimacy of the report.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman told the Oireachtas Committee on Children that the review was rejected due to “significant legal complexities.”
The review was first planned by O’Gorman in June 2021, and was to be conducted by international human rights experts. The review would re-examine the 500 written testimonies given to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission to ensure the report accurately reflected victims’ experiences.
Since the Mother and Baby Homes report was released in January 2021, campaigners have said that the report does not reflect the lived experiences of many survivors. A member of the Commission also admitted that the testimony of mothers and those born in institutions was not given the same weight as other information, as anything contained in the main report of the Commission had to “meet robust legal standards of evidence”.
The review that would verify the report of these testimonies has now been scrapped. According to O’Gorman, the plans of a review were rejected because “significant legal complexities would arise in seeking to facilitate an external review of accounts provided privately and in confidence within the robust legal framework of a commission of investigation.”
O’Gorman also argued that the Government does not have the right to reject “an independent commission of investigation”, despite criticisms from campaigners of the report.
“What happens in a situation when a commission of investigation report is undertaken, it criticises a future government and that government decides to repudiate that report?” O’Gorman told the Oireachtas Committee.
However, Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns argued that taking a decision not to repudiate a report also has consequences, and urged the Government to reflect on this.
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