Cllr Sarah OReilly: Mother & Baby Homes Bill
This process has been shocking since day one, where legislation to seal the records of Mother & Baby Homes has been rushed through both the Dáil and Seanad in under three weeks. Survivors of mother and baby homes have pleaded with the government to abandon this hurtful and illegal bill. An Oireachtas ICT measure redirected thousands of messages pleading with TDs to not pass the legislation into spam or ‘quarantine.’ Then on the night the legislation was to be passed, the Minister Roderic O’Gorman rejected any amendments before any were moved. The government’s whole approach to the delicate and emotive stories of those in mother & baby homes was undemocratic and authoritarian.”
Following public outcry, the government decided they needed to do some explaining. Over the weekend government party TDs posted similar messages across social media saying they hadn’t explained themselves well but that the outrage over the bill was merely political opportunism. Were survivors of the Mother & Baby Homes who opposed the legislation doing so for political purposes? Is that really what the government is saying? Further to this, it was put across that the reason for the bill was to comply with GDPR requirements. However, the Office of the Data Protection Commission has stated that the legislation to seal the records for 30 years is in breach of both Irish law and European law. How can the government say the legislation addresses GDPR concerns, when the Data Protection Commissioner says the legislation is illegal by both national and European standards? Turning the records over to TUSLA is not the answer either, given the present difficulties in getting information from TUSLA.
This legislation and its passage by the government is a moment of national shame. It’s a “do it anyway and apologise later” attitude that I detest most. Survivors were ignored, and the constructive efforts of Opposition parties dismissed. The government railroaded through illegal legislation to seal the records of survivors for 30 years – by which point nearly all survivors will have died and the attention of the public minuscule. But for the grace of God, I and my child may have ended up in a Mother & Baby home. This is not a fight just for survivors, this a fight for everyone.”