Thursday 19 July 2018

Mother and baby homes report delayed until 2019

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The investigation into mother-and-baby homes is delayed and a report will not now be ready until February 2019, it emerged today.

The extension was granted by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone after receiving the Third Interim Report from the Commission of Investigation.

The delay will disappoint many elderly people who are desperate for information about relatives and loved ones who died in the homes including the home in Tuam, which was the subject of research by Catherine Corless whose work led to the discovery of the remains of hundreds of babies at the site.

The commission is analysing information about mothers and children who were residents in the 14 named mother and baby Homes and the four county homes.

They are looking for facts on mothers and children including living conditions, mortality rates, post mortem practices and vaccine trials in the institutions. They are also examining  practices in relation to placement for fostering and adoption.

The interim report said yesterday that some some of these issues have proved to be very time consuming – in particular, the commission has spent considerable time trying to establish the burial practices in Tuam.

The records of admission, residence and discharge of the large mother and baby homes are held by the Child and Family Agency.

“Most of these records are in paper form. In order to make detailed analysis possible, the Commission decided to electronically scan the relevant records.

“This process is taking considerable time. The Commission has either electronically scanned or photocopied the records of institutions whose records are not held by the Child and Family Agency.”

Responding to the delay, survivors of the institutions expressed their outrage at the one year extension for the final report of the Mother and Baby home inquiry .

Paul Redmond, chairperson of the Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors said :"This is yet another delaying tactic by the Government to deny survivors truth and justice. The current inquiry is already too limited and excludes many survivors and this delay will now ensure that thousands more survivors are denied justice by death.”

He said the  survivor community is elderly and dying and many hundreds have already passed away since the Tuam 800 story broke in May 2014 and the Government announced an inquiry.

The records of the four county homes are held either by the HSE, the National Archives or local archives. These are all being examined and analysed manually. Unmarried mothers and children were a relatively small minority of the residents of county homes.

County Homes also housed, among others, homeless married parents with their children as well as children of married parents who were there without their parents. It is a complex task to establish which residents are within the remit of the Commission.

The Commission has also collected a wide variety of documentary material from other archives, in particular, the National Archives.

Orders for discovery have been served on the religious congregations who ran or worked in the various institutions and they have provided a range of relevant material.

“It is clear that there is extensive information available about certain aspects of the institutions under investigation and this will take some time to analyse. However, there are also significant gaps in the available material and further searches have to be made to try to fill these gaps, “ said the report.

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