Sinn Féin Council Group Leader Conor McGuinness has spoken of his disappointment and anger as the controversial Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and Certain related Matters) Records Bill has become law following votes in the Dáil and Seanad last week. the Bill was supported by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. A number of independent TDs also voted in favour.
Cllr McGuinness said:
“I am deeply disappointed that this Government has completely ignored the well-articulated wishes of survivors of state-sanctioned abuse, that their records do not go to Tusla and that they would not be sealed for 30 years. Academics, legal experts, human rights advocates had every opposition party had added their voices to the calls from victims and survivors.
“The Data Protection Commissioner has criticised the legislation and claimed that it may breach Irish and EU law.
“This Government has demonstrated yet again that it does not care about survivors’ concerns.
“The outpouring of emotion and anger on this issue could not be ignored by any public representative. I have been contacted by dozens of survivors retelling their heart-wrenching stories, some of them close friends and comrades telling their story publicly for the first time.
“They were stories from woman and children who have been so cruelly cast aside, dismissed, ignored and simply not believed.
“The Minister had the opportunity with this legislation to stand on the right side of history. To say he believes their stories, he understands their pain and he will do everything in his power to take their concerns into account and to let survivors decide how to handle their own records. But he chose not to.
“I want to assure all survivors of mother and baby institutions that Sinn Féin is committed to survivors’ and families’ right to access their own records, and to the preservation of all records. My party’s spokesperson on Children and Equality, Kathleen Funchion TD, is focused on finding solutions to the problems caused by a disinterested and distant Government, including legislation to try fix the problem and to ensure those affected can access information that relates to them and their treatment.
“We want to make sure the right thing is done by the survivors. We stand in solidarity with all survivors and their families and want to assure them that we will continue to work with them on this issue.”