Saturday 20 January 2018

Government rules out redress for mother and baby home residents

Children Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo Colin O'Riordan
Children Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo Colin O'Riordan
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The government's decision to not include children from mother and baby homes in a redress scheme has been criticised as "shameful" and "devastating".

An interim report of the Commission investigating the homes has said that children that lived in the homes without their mothers "have a real cause for grievance".

It recommends that the government re-examine a decision not to include them in a redress scheme for survivors of institutional abuse.

However, Children Minister Katherine Zappone confirmed that following an examination of the report the government decided that it is not possible to implement the recommendation that unaccompanied children at the homes should have access to a redress scheme.

A survivor of the Protestant Bethany Home in Dublin, Derek Leinster, called for a reversal of the decision which he described as "shameful".

Sinn Féin children spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the decision is "devastating to a lot of survivors".

A statement released by the Department of Children noted that the Commission of Investigation has yet to make findings regarding abuse or neglect.

It said it wouldn't be appropriate to deal with the question of redress in advance of any such conclusions.

It's understood concern over the costs of a new redress scheme and the potential for setting a precedent for other cases were considered by the government.

Costs associated with the previous redress scheme established in 2002 will be as high as €1.5bn. The original estimate had been €250m.

The possibility that redress will be considered after the Commission completes its report in February has not been ruled out.

Ms Zappone said she has spoken to survivors of the Homes and is "very sensitive to their needs and concerns".

Her focus will be on assisting survivors with "practical" supports involving health and well-being, to be signed off on before the summer.

The Commission's interim report said survivors of Bethany Home have a "strong case" for inclusion in a redress scheme.

It said there is also a strong case for Catholic Church-run mother and baby homes including Bessboro, Castlepollard and Tuam, and all of the similar County Homes to be included as well.

The report - completed last September, but published yesterday - hasn't recommended the extension of its terms of reference beyond the 18 homes it is investigating.

There have been calls for the extension of the probe since the discovery of human remains at the site of a former home in Tuam. Ms Zappone has committed to a scoping review of the Commission's terms of reference.

Irish Independent

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