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Social Democrats TD for Cork South-West, Holly Cairns, has cautiously welcomed the Government’s U-turn on the rights of survivors of Mother and Baby Homes to access their personal information but called for the Commission of Investigation report to be released to survivors as soon as possible.

Holly said:

“Thankfully, after almost two weeks of public pressure, the Government has responded to two of the key requests from survivors and activists, with the Minister retaining a copy of the archive and allowing access to personal information. The #RepealTheSeal campaign by Aitheantas, which has almost 200,000 signatures, shows the incredible public desire that the survivors of horrific human rights abuses get justice.

“Previously, the Minister insisted that GDPR could not be applied to the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes, despite the supremacy of EU law and the assessment of the Data Protection Commission.

“While the change in the Government’s position is most welcome, it is unfortunate that this wasn’t addressed last week. The poor handling of the entire situation and the lack of engagement with the survivors’ representatives has compounded the pain and suffering of those involved.

“According to the legal advice that I and others have received, this decision has implications not only for the Mother and Baby Homes Commission, but also for the Ryan Commission and other inquiries. Those records have been deemed sealed under the same flawed interpretation of a 2004 Act that ignores GDPR principles.

“We are all acutely aware that the Minister is receiving the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report today, but he has not provided a clear timeline on when it will be released to the public. While he has said that some time is needed for departments and the gardaí to review it, the reality is that excerpts could be leaked and shared online, which is deeply unfair on those affected.

“The Minister needs to release the commission’s report in full to survivors as soon as possible.”

October 30, 2020

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