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Social Democrats TD for Wicklow, Jennifer Whitmore, has called for the re-establishment of the Collaborative Forum for Survivors of Mother and Baby and Bethany Homes, which has not met since December 2019.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson for Children, raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dáil today.

She said:

“The Collaborative Forum was established by the previous Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone, in July 2018 and was designed as a consultative platform between the Department and survivors on legacy issues in relation to Mother and Baby and Bethany Homes abuses.

“I welcome the Taoiseach’s commitment today to speak with the Minister for Children in relation to this matter. However, I am shocked that the Forum was never consulted with in the first place and that the last time they met with the Department for Children and Youth Affairs was in December 2019.

“It has been a very distressing month for survivors of Mother and Baby and Bethany Homes, who saw legislation passed without any consultation with them or their representative groups. This was the one time the Forum should have been consulted. We now know, however, that the Minister failed to do so in the drafting of the recently passed legislation.

“Today, survivors have written to members of the Dáil to outline their distrust in the Government since legislation was passed. They have asked that the Forum be re-established so that key questions since the Government’s U-turn on the issue of rights to access personal data can be addressed.

“We need urgent clarification on what data and personal information survivors and adopted people will have immediately, as recently stated by the Minister; full disclosure of Tusla’s, the HSE’s and DCYA’s policies on providing access to survivors’ and adopted people’s personal data; and assurances that the Forum will be given sufficient time to digest the Commission of Investigation’s final report into Mother and Baby Homes ahead of its public release.”

November 3, 2020

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