Groups welcome statement on Mother and Baby Homes, Government regrets 'genuine hurt felt'

Representative groups for the adoptees and survivors of the homes have said the Government's actions are 'a vital first step in attempting to redress the harm caused'.

A gate swings open into a walled field with religious statues

Adoption Rights Alliance, Justice for Magdalenes Research and the Clann Project have released a statement welcoming the Government’s clarification that survivors and adoptees of Mother and Baby Homes are legally entitled to access their personal data.

The statement read, “ARA, JFMR and the Clann Project welcome the Government’s acknowledgement that many decades of secrecy have caused ongoing and unnecessary harm to people already profoundly failed by our State and society. Over the past few weeks, the citizens of Ireland and people from across the diaspora have joined with survivors of institutions, adopted people, natural mothers and relatives of the deceased and disappeared to reject this continuing abuse. The Government has listened, which is a vital first step in attempting to redress the harm caused.

“The Government’s commitment to work closely with the Data Protection Commission to fully vindicate the rights of people who experienced forced family separation abuses is a clear and welcome departure from previous policy. The right of access to personal data is both a core element of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and protected by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), making it supreme over any conflicting Irish law.

“As the Government now recognises, existing EU law requires the Irish State to move away from its reflexive habits of secrecy. Access to information is crucial to attaining any form of accountability for the serious and systematic abuses of the 20th century. Truth-telling is necessary in order to ensure that similar abuses never happen again.”

The statement further explained how “A row over the treatment of sensitive data currently in the possession of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation has caused widespread distress for adoptees and survivors, and led to a political backlash that has taken the coalition by surprise.”

The Government released its own statement, describing, “At its meeting today, the Government had a detailed reflection on all of the issues of public concern that were raised in recent days. The Government acknowledges and regrets the genuine hurt felt by many people across Irish society.

“It is determined to take the necessary actions to ensure that these concerns are dealt with in a manner that is timely, appropriate and that is focused on the needs of victims and survivors.”

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