Campaign launched to prevent Mother and Baby Homes Commission from dissolving

Survivors, activists, and politicians have spoken out against the Mother and Baby Homes Commission for destroying 550 recorded testimonies.

A statue of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus

Writer Noelle Brown has launched an email campaign to prevent the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation from dissolving following the loss of survivor testimonies. 

The Mother and Baby Homes Commission has once again fallen under heavy criticism for destroying recordings of survivor’s testimonies. The inquiry claimed that witnesses were asked for permission to have evidence recorded and these audio files would be destroyed at a later point. 

Some survivors have since spoken out against the Commission’s statement, saying that they were not made aware their testimonies would be deleted. Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, Brown said, “Nobody told us they would be destroyed. We didn’t consent to that.”

Adoption rights activist Brown has launched an email campaign demanding a delay on the dissolution of the Commission until the missing files are retrieved. On Twitter, she wrote, “Urgent – please email your TDs and Senators and tell them: Don’t let Mother and Baby Homes Commission dissolve with 550 testimonies missing. Give birth certificates to adoptees now. Open the archive and tell the truth.”

On the NB Theatre Company website, Brown further writes, “This wanton destruction of evidence denies survivors the ability to refute the Commission’s erroneous findings.”

After spending years waiting for the final report, many survivors are sharing they are appalled that their testimonies are being abruptly erased by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission. Its dissolution on February 28 is allowing the inquiry to retain power over the narrative rather than those who shared their stories. 

Writer Caelainn Hogan spoke out against the destruction of testimonies on Twitter, “Hundreds of survivors relived the trauma of Mother and Baby Home Institutions to give testimony, hoping the truth would be heard. The Commission of Investigation contradicted what survivors said and destroyed the only full recordings of their testimonies.”

Lecturer in human rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights (ICHR) and programme director of the BCL Law and Human Rights, Dr Maeve O’Rourke, expressing her views on the Commission’s policies wrote, “‘We promise you will remain anonymous’ (75 of 550 wishing this) doesn’t mean: we won’t fully transcribe your testimony, we will never give you a copy of what you said, we’ll then destroy your audio, you won’t be able to challenge our report.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas Children’s Committee in the Dáil chamber, the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Roderic O’Gorman, insisted that the audio recordings could not be retrieved. He stated, “The Commission have replied today stating that they don’t believe that that material can be retrieved. […] I’m assuming it’s a technical answer to a technical question in terms of what can or can’t be done.”

Numerous politicians called into question how the record could be amended in light of witness testimonies being destroyed. Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore asked O’Gorman: “Can you tell me do you believe that the Commission was within its legal remit to destroy this data? And have you sought legal advice in relation to that?”

The Minister replied: “In all their communications with me, the Commission have outlined what they believe their rights and responsibilities in the context of GDPR and the context of data protection are. They said they have acted in good faith in terms of what they did.”

Fianna Fáil Senator Mary Fitzpatrick addressed how “hugely frustrating and disappointing” it was that the Commission had not come before the committee. She said, “They’ve given five years of their life and their work to produce the report, but it really cannot end here, and we would urge them not to have it end here.” 

If you want to join the email campaign, follow this link.

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