Dolan, Aisling, Dillon, Alan , Hoey, Annie, Ward, Barry, Leddin, Brian, Berry, Cathal , Crowe, Cathal, O'Sullivan, Christopher, O'Callaghan, Cian, Kerrane, Claire, Devlin, Cormac, O'Rourke, Darren, Smith, Duncan, Flynn, Eileen, McCallion , Elisha, Currie, Emer, Higgins, Emer, McGreehan, Erin, Duffy, Francis Noel, Ahearn, Garret, Gannon, Gary, Cairns, Holly, O'Connor, James, Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer, Whitmore, Jennifer , Flaherty, Joe , Cummins, John, McGahon , John, Guirke, Johnny , Mythen, Johnny, Boylan, Lynn, Farrell, Mairéad , Noonan, Malcolm, Ó Cathasaigh, Marc, Sherlock, Marie, Wall, Mark, Browne, Martin, Fitzpatrick, Mary, Seery Kearney, Mary, Carthy, Matt, Shanahan, Matt, Carrigy, Micheál, Hourigan, Neasa, Foley, Norma, Crowe, Ollie, Smyth, Ossian, Daly, Pa, Ryan, Patricia , Costello, Patrick, Donnelly, Paul, O'Reilly, Pauline, Tully, Pauline , McAuliffe, Paul , Cronin, Réada, Moynihan, Rebecca, O'Donoghue, Richard, O'Gorman, Roderic, Garvey, Róisín, Ó Murchú, Ruairí, Keogan, Sharon, Clarke, Sorca, Matthews, Steven , Gould, Thomas, Murphy, Verona, Martin, Vincent P., Wynne, Violet-Anne

Friday, 16 October 2020

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages

I thank the Senators for their contributions and their continued engagement on this legislation over the last weeks. When we last spoke in the House, earlier in the week, I noted that this is tech...More Button

  I will respond directly to Senator Higgins's points about passing the database to the Adoption Authority of Ireland, AAI, instead of Tusla. While I appreciate the intent in doing that,...More Button

  I am not in a position to accept the group of amendments relating to the AAI. I believe that rather than supporting a move towards consolidating records in a single repository, these a...More Button

  From a practical point of view, it is worth noting the organisational capacity, as referred to by Senator Higgins. Tusla currently has significant resources available to undertake its ...More Button

  Senator Bacik asked about the rationale for why this particular piece of legislation is necessary. Under the 2004 Act, once the commission its final report and stands dissolved in law,...More Button

  If this legislation is not passed, the valuable database that the commission has created will be part of that archive and will be sealed within it for a 30-year period. However, if we ...More Button

  I accept Senator Bacik's point that the previous Oireachtas was not able to deliver on information and tracing but I think we must take the opportunity now to protect the database. It ...More Button

  I spoke to the former Minister, Katherine Zappone, shortly after I took up this role. She said that one of her biggest regrets was not getting legislation on information and tracing pa...More Button

I thank the Senators for their engagement. As regards the treatment of these records by Tusla, when my Department has engaged with Tusla on this we have engaged with them on a technical level, and...More Button

  Coming back to the point made by Senator Bacik as regards the 30-year rule, the reason we are acting swiftly is because the commission is to report on 30 October so we need to get this ...More Button

 I fully agree with Senators that it will be a big piece of work but it is absolutely essential that this Oireachtas undertakes the delivery of information and tracing services. The legislati...More Button

No.More Button

I thank all Senators for their contributions. It is justifiable to recognise Senator Boyhan's contributions as he is someone who has experienced some of the matters about which we are talking toda...More Button

  After our debate on Wednesday, I spent a lot of time reflecting on Senator McDowell's contribution and, particularly, on Senator Boyhan's contribution as it came from someone who wants ...More Button

  In our debate on Wednesday I was also very struck by a particular concept. Senator Ruane put it best when she said these people were told but never asked. The idea of agency is really...More Button

  Since our previous debate, that balance has been to the forefront of my mind and yesterday I engaged with the Attorney General with a view to bringing forward amendments in the Dáil tha...More Button

  An extension is based on a request from the commission, which has always been made through interim reports. We have received no interim report seeking an extension this time. We have ...More Button

  If the commission reports on 30 October and this Bill is not passed, the database will be sealed in the archive. That would be a tragedy. The database would be a beneficial tool in te...More Button

  One or two specific questions were asked. Senator Dolan asked about access to funding for groups. I am willing to consider that matter. When we get the commission's report, it will b...More Button

  Senator Mullen asked about the Ryan report. I am not an expert on it and it does not fall within my Department's remit, given that it remains with the Department of Justice and Equalit...More Button

Its terms of reference stated that the records were to be destroyed at its conclusion. That was an issue of significant debate in a previous Oireachtas and there was a Bill on the issue, although ...More Button

I beg Senators' indulgence regarding the details of this. I had a conversation late last night with the Attorney General in which I asked him to start work on it. When my telephone rang very rude...More Button

  As regards the database and the question as to the harm in allowing it to rest in the archive until such time as information-and-tracing legislation is produced, Senator Bacik made the ...More Button

My apologies. I wish to indicate that I would like to come in soon after the Senator. She may want to hear what I have to say.More Button

When I spoke to the Attorney General yesterday on the previous points we discussed I also indicated I would like him to bring forward a proposal for an amendment in the Dáil which will address the ...More Button

I hear the criticisms of Tusla. From my engagement with the current legal infrastructure for information and tracing, which we know is insufficient, many of the barriers encountered by people seek...More Button

  As regards Sean McDermott Street, I saw that concept design recently. It is very impressive. I need to know more about it. It is quite extensive. There are several elements. Obviou...More Button

  Senator Warfield asked about a difference between an initial briefing document given by the Department and the subsequent document. He made the point that the initial document named 11...More Button

I will deal with that issue under a later amendment. I am not pursuing an amendment on that point, having engaged with the commission and received an indication of a very extensive index it will p...More Button

I hope I can address the points raised by the Senators. I share Senator Higgins's interpretation and, on the legal advice we have received, we are assured that the legislation deals appropriately ...More Button

Unfortunately, I will not be in a position to accept this group of amendments, following engagement with the Attorney General and officials in my office. Much of that is the result of the core con...More Button

  With regard to Senator Bacik's amendment, section 3(1) specifically outlines what is lawful for the agency to possess and the relevant current statute under which it might do so. Based...More Button

  Turning to the amendments which propose to alter the application of data protection law to the archive transferring from the commission to me as the prescribed Minister, the 2004 Act pr...More Button

  The prohibition under section 39 of the 2004 Act does not have the application to the records which will transfer to Tusla as those records are not within the categories listed in this ...More Button

  When it was decided to establish an inquiry into mother and baby homes, the model of investigation the then Government chose was a commission of investigation under the 2004 Act. That ...More Button

  The 2004 Act provides for the means whereby the archive and the confidentiality of that archive are preserved. Any disclosure by a Department of the records deposited with it is prohib...More Button

I will be fully honest with the Senator. I do not see at this point that I will be in a position to address this particular matter in the Dáil, as I felt I was addressing-----More Button

It will not be done through legislation at this point.More Button

I might be able to provide the clarity the Senator wants. In the case of section 45 of the Act of 2004, I am aware that amendments also relate to a concern that an unintended consequence could ari...More Button

In the comments I made earlier in response to Senator Higgins's amendments on the issue of a full copy of the database both being in the archive and transferring to Tusla, I indicated I had flagged...More Button

  Amendment No. 37 is a slightly different question. Am I correct in my understanding that Senator Higgins wants me to interpret the Long Title as opening the ability to write regulation...More Button

I trust-----More Button

I trust the Attorney General will give me the necessary advice to make provision for whatever I am doing, as regards ensuring a full set is in the archive. We can make provision for that in the Lo...More Button

I will speak to amendments Nos. 25 and 27 first. I understand the desire and need for an index of the evidence and the records. This has been considered as part of the commission's investigation....More Button

I have not yet responded to Senator Bacik's queries. Senator Warfield asked about the timeline for receipt of the commission's report. I cannot give a timeline until we get it. Several procedura...More Button

  That feeds into the body of work my Department has to do as regards legacy issues. We have to get this published and start responding to it because I imagine it will contain significan...More Button

I hear where Senators are coming from. Probably our earlier debate on amendment No. 2 and the discussion about the appropriateness, or otherwise, of the confidential committee and the rules around...More Button

Like the other speakers, I take on board the sentiment of what Senator Higgins has been saying. We have spoken about an arrow to a future direction and I have provided plenty of arrows in my contr...More Button

I will not hold colleagues long; I know it has been a long day. I thank them for the detailed consideration they gave to the legislation. I hope they feel that today's discussions have led to an ...More Button

  The deadline for amendments by the Dáil has been extended until 6 p.m. on Monday to allow parties and Independents from all sides to bring forward their own amendments following this pr...More Button