Donegal TD Thomas Pringle has slammed the Government’s “shameful” rushing through of Mother and Baby Homes legislation.
The Government last night won a Dáil vote on its mother-and-baby home legislation by the substantial margin of 78 votes to 67. The bill provided for the transfer of a database of names of the mothers and children who were resident in the main mother-and-baby homes to be sent to Tusla. The remaining records would be sealed for 30 years under a 2004 Act, which would mean that they would be withheld from survivors and their families.
Independent TD Thomas Pringle said the controversial Bill has ignored the voices of survivors and others who have been deeply involved in uncovering what happened in Mother and Baby homes.
Deputy Pringle said: “Maybe that’s what we should put on the record here – that everyone is wrong except for the government.
“That we’re all wrong, all the survivors are wrong, all the people who have gone through it, all the academics who have worked on this process for the last number of years – they’re all wrong and the government is right, and that’s what we should take from this whole process,” he said.
Addressing the Dáil during Thursday’s debate on amendments to the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill 2020, Deputy Pringle noted that an amendment he had proposed was not accepted due to confusion between the Ceann Comhairle and the Bills Office of the Oireachtas.
Deputy Pringle said: “I think that shows the way this bill has been rushed through. There are processes that are there as a way to allow people to have input. These processes have been short-circuited.”
Deputy Pringle said the minister had briefed opposition spokespersons on the bill on September 9th.
Deputy Pringle said: “And between the 9th of September and today is six or seven weeks, so this bill could have come through in time for actual discussion and debate to take place. This process has been hampered by the way this has been handled.”
He echoed Deputy Catherine Connolly’s call for the minister to publish the sixth interim report from the commission set up to investigate Mother and Baby Homes. The sixth report addressed records, a key element of the bill.
“I think that’s vitally important to give some semblance of rebuilding faith in the department for the people that department is supposed to serve,” Deputy Pringle said. The minister said the report has not been published on advice from the Attorney General’s office.
Deputy Pringle said: “This bill also ignored the Collaborative Forum of Former Residents of the Mother and Baby Homes, which was established specifically to advise the government, and has repeatedly stated that Tusla should have no further role in adoption information and tracing.
“Your own organisations have said that this shouldn’t have happened. But yet this bill proposes to do that and you are blindly going to go ahead and push this through today.”
Deputy Pringle said: “I think this is very wrong, minister, and I think you should be rowing back on this, and you should be stopping this, and you should tell your department to take a running jump.”