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– Government will be judged by its actions, not words.

Jennifer Whitmore TD, Social Democrats spokesperson for Children, has said that the apology from the Taoiseach today, while necessary, is not enough and that the Government will be judged by its actions, not words.

Deputy Whitmore commented:

“The commission’s report – and the Government’s response to it – fails to acknowledge that the fundamental responsibility for protecting its citizens lies with the State. It is not acceptable to suggest that the brutal regime described in the report is something we did to ourselves as a society.

“For decades, the State and church operated hand in glove to implement a policy of shame, blame and misogyny that facilitated and oversaw the horrific treatment of women and children. It is simply not good enough to point the finger at families and wider society and say that they failed the survivors and victims of Mother and Baby Homes.

“If the Government’s first reaction to the commission’s report is to suggest we were all complicit in the appalling treatment of these women and children, then we have learned nothing at all.

“Today’s apology must be followed up with swift action that addresses the needs of survivors. Restorative justice can only be truly achieved when outstanding issues such as access to personal data and financial redress are expedited in a manner that is not unwieldly. Survivors should not be retraumatised by having further bureaucratic or legislative barriers placed in front of them.

“Ireland has a poor track record when it comes to dealing with victims of institutional abuse. This Government must not repeat the mistakes of the past in helping the survivors of Mother and Baby Homes achieve closure on this traumatic chapter of their lives.

“This report only represents a step in the journey that these women and their families are taking. We need to listen to what survivors are saying and be led by their needs and voices.”

January 13, 2021

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