Sinn Fein Senator Paul Gavan has called on the Government to “completely rethink” the proposed Retention of Records Bill.
This Bill provides for the retention, sealing and withholding from public inspection of records with regard to survivors of state and church abuse for a period of no less than 75 years and for the confidential disposal of any records not transferring to the National Archives.
Speaking after an Oireachtas Education Committee Hearing at which survivors of state and church abuse had spoken out strongly against the Bill, Senator Gavan said;
“We have heard passionate testimony from survivors of state and church abuse who told us directly that if this bill passes it would make survivors of the industrial schools invisible once more.
“We also heard from academics and legal experts who told us that there was in fact no need for the bill at all, and that the proposed bill flies in the face of existing European legislation regarding personal data.
“The Department of Education has stated that the aim of this legislation was to strike a balance between those who gave evidence to the commission and redress bodies, and the need to never forget the harm that was done.
“Unfortunately the balance the Department of Education has chosen to strike is 100% in favour of silence and 0% in favour of victims”
“I am calling for the Government to completely re-think this legislation. Instead of this clumsy attempt to silence survivors we need action to ensure that the records of religious congregations who ran the institutions should be brought under the aegis of the state.
“The Department of Education should be assisting survivors of abuse by shining a light on records still kept by these institutions, rather than attempting to silence survivors and shut down debate.
“This proposed legislation is akin to the type of far-right politics we see raising its ugly head in certain parts of Eastern Europe. It has no place in this state.”