THREAD 1/15. I think it is important to be clear about what the Mother and Baby Home's Bill does and does not do. The Bill does not seal the archive of the Mother and Baby Home Commission.
2/15. Is this Bill perfect? Absolutely not but it is needed so that information would not be sealed. Should there have been more engagement with survivors? Yes and I will be bringing this to my colleague @rodericogorman's attention and asking that he engages with survivor groups.
3/15. Survivor group's need to feel clear about what their rights are as a result of this Bill.
4/15. The decision to seal these archives is a result of this Commission being adopted under the Commission of Investigation Act, 2004 when the Commission was established in 2015.
5/15. What this Bill does is it allows for a valuable database that the Commission created during its work, to be kept out of the archive and be used. This database traces the pathways of women who entered the various mother and baby homes and how their children exited the homes.
6/15. The database is to be transferred to Tusla which will allow Tusla better undertaking of its existing tracing services. When new and improved Information and Tracing legislation is introduced (which is something @rodericogorman has committed to) the database will be useful.
7/15. If this Bill is not passed, the database will be sealed in the archive of the Mother and Baby Home Commission, when the Commission submits its Final Report on October 30th.
8/15. I think this would be a huge, missed opportunity. In the process of discussion on this Bill, listening to TDs, Senators and survivors, the Minister has agreed to make 2 amendments. One will ensure that a complete copy of all records of the Commission will be in the archive.
9/15. Along with this, the Minister has also clarified with the Commission that there will be a detailed Index provided when the Commission makes its Final Report. These measures will assist in understanding the wider implications of the Commission's report.
10/15. The other amendment that the Minister has agreed to make is to ask any survivor of a Mother and Baby Home who gave a personal story to the Confidential Committee, established as part of the Commission, whether they want their story redacted to protect their privacy.
11/15. Some will want this, some will not, but the important point is that we are asking them this and allowing them make the final decision.
12/15. There are a wide range of other issues in relation to Mother and Baby Homes including access to personal information in the Commission's archive. The Commission's Final Report will be submitted to the Government at the end of the month.
13/15. It is the Minister's intention that it will be published as soon as possible, once the Attorney General has reviewed it. The Government will then have to come back in relation to how it responds to the Commission Report.
14/15. I look forward to working on this and on many of the wider issues that have been raised in the context of the debate on this Bill.
15/15. The AG says that the archives of Commissions of Investigation are exempt from GDPR. This is a contested position, @rodericogorman is bound by AG advice but he has committed to working to see how we can address the GDPR element.