Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has criticised the haste with which the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes Bill is being pushed through the Seanad this week.
Speaking after today’s Seanad debate, Senator Warfield said:
“I made it clear to Minister O’Gorman today that Sinn Féin oppose the rushing through of this Bill. Put simply, we need more time. There is too much that is uncertain and unclear about this Bill that makes rushing it through both careless and callous.
“I have received thousands of e-mails from concerned citizens who are alarmed at the impact this rushed, ambiguous legislation is having on the very women that were originally traumatised by their experiences of Mother and Baby Homes.
“We cannot forget that the records and data we are discussing includes heartbreaking testimony from women that were let down by the State. To frustrate access and seal their personal accounts is to miss the point of the establishment of the Commission. It is unthinkable that these records – which are key to understanding the State’s failings of the past – will be locked away for 30 years, effectively for another generation.
“Under the existing 2004 Commissions of Investigation Act, the records held by the Commission can be deposited with the Minister on dissolution. This is the course of action he must take.
“Sinn Féin will submit substantial amendments that will facilitate the depositing of the Commission’s records with the Minister and reaffirm the right of access to personal data.
“We are urging the Minister to scrap this unnecessary piece of legislation, and to instead consult with survivors and families for the purpose of drafting legislation that meets the needs of survivors and the moral obligations of the State.”