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Professional archivists to index mother and baby home records
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Roderic O'Gorman Pic: RollingNews.ie

29 Oct 2020 / ireland Print

Archivists to index mother and baby home records

The Government yesterday agreed that the final report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation, which is due for completion tomorrow, Friday 30 October, will be published as soon as possible after it is received by the Minister.

As required by law, upon receipt the report will be immediately referred to the Attorney General (AG) for legal advice as to whether it might prejudice any criminal proceedings that are pending or in progress.


To expedite publication, the AG will ensure that additional resources are in place to speedily review for publication what is expected to be a very lengthy report.

All relevant Government departments and agencies will also develop a comprehensive State response to the findings and recommendations of the report for urgent consideration by the Government.

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth Affairs, along with Túsla, will continue to engage closely with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner to ensure that the rights of all citizens to access personal information about themselves, under data protection legislation and the GDPR are fully respected and implemented, the Government statement said.

Additional resources will be provided where necessary.

The HSE will expedite implementation of the provision of health and well-being supports to survivors.

The Government will advance its work on the information and tracing legislation, with a view to publication next year.

The Government will also urgently proceed with the legislation to provide for sensitive and appropriate actions at the burial site at the former Mother and Baby Home at Tuam, Co Galway, and at any other sites where this is appropriate.

The Government said it will work with the Oireachtas Committee on Children to seek an all-party consensus in the Oireachtas on these very sensitive issues.


The Government will work to establish, on a formal and national basis, an archive of records related to institutional trauma during the 20th century.

This will include archiving relevant records and witness testimony by victims and survivors. 

It will be developed at a suitable site and operated in accordance with the highest international standards.


It will be designed in cooperation with professional archivists and historians, as well as with victims, survivors and their advocates.

Finally, the Government yesterday reaffirmed the reasons for bringing forward the recent legislation to preserve and protect valuable records that would otherwise have been destroyed or rendered useless.

This was as a response to the clearly expressed views of the Commission of Investigation, chaired by Judge Yvonne Murphy, that the commission had compiled a database of all the mothers and children who were resident in the main mother and baby homes.

It is clear that this database would be of considerable assistance to those involved in providing information and tracing services.

Under existing legislation, the database would have to be effectively destroyed, the statement said.

As the information compiled in the database is sensitive and personal, the commission would be obliged under existing legislation to redact the names and other identifying information about the residents of these homes before submitting to the Minister.


The commission stated this would have the effect of rendering the database useless.

The commission was of the view that the database should be preserved and made available to the holders of the original records for information and tracing purposes (or to whatever body is charged with information and tracing services).

The commission stated very clearly that this would require legislation.

The legislation had to be passed before the deadline of 30 October, in order to protect and preserve these vital records of “a dark chapter in our history”, the Government statement said.


At its meeting yesterday, the Government said it had a “detailed reflection on all of the issues of public concern that were raised in recent days”.

A statement said it acknowledges and regrets the genuine hurt felt by many people across Irish society and 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.

The Minister Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth Affairs Roderic O’Gorman will engage and consult with former residents, their families and advocates will be central to the formulation and delivery of a comprehensive State response, the statement said.

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