Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that, while Sinn Féin welcomes the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation Report, the party would not be supporting Government legislation to seal the records for thirty years, saying that it is important that any new legislation enables survivors to decide how to handle their own records.
Teachta Crowe said:
“Sinn Féin welcomes the publication of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation Report. We know this has been a deeply personal and difficult process for survivors and their families.
“Sinn Féin do not support the government’s current legislation which we believe will compound the hurt experienced by many of these children. Under the existing 2004 Act, the records held by the Commission can be deposited with the Minister on dissolution.
“This Bill needs to be voted down and scrapped. The Minister instead should produce an anonymised index of the records held by the Commission, consult with survivors and families and then draft appropriate legislation that meets the rights of survivors and the moral obligations of the State.
“It is also important that any new legislation enables survivors decide how to handle their own records.
“It is important to remember that when dealing with the deeply contentious Retention of Records Bill last year regarding the Ryan Commission, the Oireachtas Education Committee recommended to allow survivors who submitted testimonies access to their own records. They also suggested the possible anonymisation or redaction of records made available for public access, and the provision of legislation to enable individual survivors to decide how they would prefer to handle their records.
“The establishment of a dedicated archive at the Seán McDermott Street site, which housed the last Magdalene Laundry, would meet many of these recommendations and ensure that future generations know of and get some understanding of the State’s horrific role in the treatment of women and children during this dark period in Ireland’s history.
“As legislators we need to commit ourselves to these survivors and their families right to access their own records, and to the preservation of all records from these mother and baby homes.”