Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Kathleen Funchion TD, has called on the Mother and Baby Homes Commissioners to appear before the Oireachtas Children’s Committee urgently.
Her comments follow a discussion one commissioner took part in at Oxford University about the commission’s work, despite previously refusing requests to come before the Oireachtas committee.
Teachta Funchion, who is chair of the Oireachtas Children’s Committee, said:
“Survivors were shocked to learn that Professor Daly was taking part in this academic discussion about her work in the commission, despite her previous refusal to come before the Oireachtas.
“Survivors have reasonable questions which they want answered about a report which has profound implications for their lives. They have been hurt and distressed by the commissioners’ refusal to engage with them and answer these fundamental questions.
“During yesterday’s academic seminar, Professor Daly made a number of revelations which have caused huge alarm for people affected by the commission’s report.
“She appears to have admitted that the processes put in place were not able to include survivors’ testimonies in an appropriate way and were subsequently disregarded. It appears this is why the report came to a number of bizarre conclusions, such as that women and girls were not forced into the homes or that there was no evidence of illegal adoptions- both of which appear to fly in the face of clear testimonies to the contrary.
“Frankly, Professor Daly’s work in the commission appears to have been totally discredited by these remarks. Her comments have undermined her own work but also the work of the entire commission.
“I am liaising with my colleagues on the Oireachtas Children’s Committee and we intend to write to all three Commissioners to call on them to come before the Committee urgently to clarify these remarks and deal with the myriad of outstanding issues relating to the commission’s final report.
“Chiefly, she must clarify; why did the terms of reference exclude meaningful engagement from survivors? When did she discover this? What steps, if any, did she take to address and resolve this? Did she continue with the committee’s work despite knowing that survivors’ testimonies would not be included properly due to the terms of reference?
“I am also calling on Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman to make urgent contact with Professor Daly and all of the commissioners to encourage them to appear before the Oireachtas. I would remind him that he has ultimate responsibility for this process.The Minister must make it clear to Professor Daly and all of the commissioners that he supports the Oireachtas Committee’s request for them to appear and answer questions about their work.
“I am profoundly disappointed on behalf of survivors that they are being treated in this unacceptable way. As I have said throughout, the needs and feelings of survivors must be the paramount concern in this process.
“Survivors bravely came forward and shared their stories in the hope that they would expose the truth. This was extremely difficult and often harrowing for survivors to do but they spoke up because they wanted their voices to be heard.
“Despite this, many survivors have been left feeling disregarded, ignored and insulted by a process which appears not to have been fit for purpose. This insult has been compounded by the commission’s silence and refusal to be held to account.
“My thoughts today are with all survivors. I will continue to speak up and hold the government to account on this to ensure that survivors are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.”