Wednesday 21 February 2018

Redress scheme may be reopened in wake of Tuam

The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Niall O'Connor and Eilish O'Regan

The Government is considering the reopening of a State redress scheme for survivors of the mother and baby homes, the Irish Independent understands.

Coalition sources have revealed that an unpublished report carried out by an expert commission recommends the reopening of a 2002 scheme that previously paid out compensation for institutional abuse.

Education Minister Richard Bruton said last week that there are no plans to reopen the scheme, which has already paid out €1.5bn to those who suffered abuse in religious institutions.

However, sources last night revealed that the Commission for the Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes has recommended reopening the scheme for compensation purposes.

The Commission recently revealed details of hundreds of children's remains at a site in Tuam.

It is understood the recommendation to reopen the previous scheme, which closed in 2011, is contained in a second report that has been sent to Children's Minister Katherine Zappone.

The scheme, which has to date cost almost €1.5bn, closed to new applicants in September 2011.

It emerged last week that religious orders who ran residential institutions where children were subject to abuse have paid just 13pc of the costs.

A report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG), published by Mr Bruton, confirmed that the State had received just €85m of the €226m that was due from the Church.

A spokesperson for Mr Bruton confirmed that the scheme would not be reopened for new entrants.

But it is understood this only applies to institutional abuse victims - and that it could now be reopened for mother and baby home survivors.

It comes as new research reveals that women hiding their pregnancies continues to be a problem in modern Ireland.

The reasons for hiding a pregnancy are complex, the study by the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin shows.

Lead researcher and experienced midwife Sylvia Murphy Tighe, who conducted the research, said: "Women in Ireland continue to conceal their pregnancies for a variety of complex and poorly understood reasons.

"We must as a nation recognise this and respond more supportively than in the past," she said.

The findings also showed the manner in which the media report on the issue of concealed pregnancies can be negative and insensitive.

It is hoped that the report, 'The Keeping it Secret Study - Your Story of Concealed Pregnancy', will be available in the early summer.

Irish Independent

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