Higgins, Alice-Mary

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

It is not agreed.More Button

No. We need to clarify something before we continue with the debate. This is not to be obstructive, but a large number of amendments are related to the Adoption Authority of Ireland. I am happy ...More Button

That is fine. It relates to the amendment rather than the section. Is that correct?More Button

That is fine. I am happy to accept that. I propose that the grouping stand, as such, with the exception that amendments Nos. 8 and 9 are taken separately and that amendment No. 20 would be taken ...More Button

We can. People often do it.More Button

I move amendment No. 1:More Button

We know also that the Minister would have been able to issue guidelines in terms of the appropriate treatment of these records. There was a sense that the records and documents were going to be tr...More Button

  This group of amendments ask that the Minister replaces the references to "the agency" in the legislation with "the authority". I have tabled other amendments, which I will come to lat...More Button

  Amendment No. 6 proposes that if the documents are not to be deposited with the Adoption Authority or Tusla they be deposited with the Minister. This would allow him to make an appropr...More Button

On a point of clarification, I suggest that we change the groupings. Amendments Nos. 19 and 20 are effectively alternatives to each other. To save me reiterating all the same points about amendme...More Button

I want to address a couple of the issues to which the Minister has spoken. I also wish to add my concern about the manner in which this has been done. I suggest, frankly, that notwithstanding the...More Button

  Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that we know that Members of the Dáil were given a deadline of 2 p.m. today to submit amendments. Unfortunately, there will likely be a large d...More Button

  Legislation is, of course, important and needs to be dealt with in a timely way but there are questions about the urgency relating to this legislation, as others have spoken about. We ...More Button

  The Minister did not address one of the serious concerns that I raised. I want a response to these matters before I press forward. In what manner will these documents will be stored? ...More Button

  I esteem the work and thinking of my colleague, Senator Seery Kearney. However, if the database is the issue and this legislation is to allow for the database to be transferred, there ...More Button

  I disagree with the Minister's analysis regarding the database and think it should have been shared. I intend to press these amendments but, before I do, I would like a response from t...More Button

I thank Senator McDowell for clarifying that the database is not affected by this, as it is important that there is unity across the House. There are a number of other areas of agreement across th...More Button

Hear, hear.More Button

The amendment-----More Button

I need to respond.More Button

On amendment No. 7, I appreciate the points that were made by Senator McDowell and I had hoped that I could support this. It addresses those supplying a document or a record of information. Howev...More Button

  I was not objecting to the 2015 order. My concern is the 2015 order was not fully and properly conducted in regard to the confidential committee where it required to provide in their p...More Button

  We have heard sincere concerns expressed on either side. I am happy if it is the Minister who has regulation but it is clear that for any of these explicitly sensitive records of the c...More Button

I move amendment No. 3:More Button

I move amendment No. 4:More Button

I move amendment No. 5:More Button

I move amendment No. 6:More Button

  Amendment No. 7 not moved.More Button

I move amendment No. 8:More Button

That is perfect. If there is some useful information I am happy to receive it.More Button

Absolutely. I am happy to do that. I will not speak for much longer. My key concern about the question of the database is that I was dissatisfied with the earlier answer. The Minister seems to ...More Button

  I urge the Minister to take a copy of the database. If he wanted to give the powers to Tusla then he can but he goes out of his way in this Bill to remove access to the database from h...More Button

I thank the Minister for that. It is very good. Out of respect for all my fellow colleagues in the other House in the Dáil, I still believe it would be best practice if Deputies were also able to...More Button

I will press amendment No. 8. I will not press amendment No. 9.More Button

I move amendment No. 9:More Button

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

  Question proposed: "That section 2 stand part of the Bill."More Button

May I make a brief point?More Button

I would appreciate it if the Minister would include it. Other Members have spoken on the wider issues, and I spoke about them at the beginning of this debate. Tusla's record has not been good. H...More Button

  It is clear that the Minister will put forward amendments in the Dáil and I urge him to look to the language on the Adoption Authority in the 2017 Act because we must be assured, and I ...More Button

I move amendment No. 10:More Button

Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 are coming at the same point. I am not sure if amendment No. 11 is necessary but I am seeking assurance from the Minister. I do not think I will need to press the amendm...More Button

I thank the Minister. That was the intention of the amendments and I am glad to have that clarification. It is important that Tusla is also aware that this is the interpretation. The Minister ha...More Button

I move amendment No. 11:More Button

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

I will speak to the three amendments. These are some of the most important amendments of the day. Amendment No. 12 explicitly refers to "providing information about a deceased person to a brother...More Button

  There is a strong and usual principle in law that where somebody is deceased, things change as far as access to information is concerned. It is really appropriate, especially in circum...More Button

  I want to speak to amendments Nos. 24 and 26. I tried to co-sign No. 26 but apparently my co-signature arrived too late. I strongly support it however. These amendments again concern...More Button

  I note also that people have mentioned the concern around Tusla and its very narrow interpretation of the GDPR. I am concerned about the balancing act, which we talked about at great l...More Button

  Given the very blunt interpretation of GDPR we unfortunately have seen consistently from the Child and Family Agency, another concern is that other rights people have under other parts ...More Button

  I hope the Minister will consider these. I urge him to be cautious in terms of something that will tie his hands in the future when he looks to put in place appropriate legislation and...More Button

I am disappointed. With great respect, the 2004 Act is not set in stone. We amend and change laws all the time. Of course, there is a concern if there are people whose rights are affected becaus...More Button

  Amendments Nos. 24 and 26 in the names of Senators Bacik and Ruane simply seek to clarify that Article 15 applies. However, it should be clearly stated on the record that it applies an...More Button

Question, "That section 3 stand part of the Bill", put and declared carried.More Button

I move amendment No. 14:More Button

I move amendment No. 15:More Button

I move amendment No. 16:More Button

I will be very brief. I had not realised the amendment was grouped-----More Button

I will speak very briefly on amendment No. 16, as I had not realised it was grouped previously. This amendment follows on from earlier discussions. Essentially, it reminds the Minister that secti...More Button

  We mentioned graves, but the issue that concerns me is that not giving people their own testimony or statements should be interpreted as damaging to the operation of future commissions....More Button

Will the Minister respond?More Button

I am only asking the Minister if he intends to discuss it.More Button

It is about the interpretation of the section so it does not necessarily need to be part of the legislation.More Button

I will press the amendment.More Button

I move amendment No. 17:More Button

I move amendment No. 18:More Button

I move amendment No. 19:More Button

It does not extend things. It is simply that they are happening from two different locations. The section states: "as if the reference, in paragraph (a) of subsection (1), to specified Minister w...More Button

No, but it would be a split. My concern is that while the number of documents is the same, there are two different directions in which a future tribunal might go. I want the Minister to have a fu...More Button

  I appreciate the unintended consequence, which was my initial concern. I realise that is not the issue but my concern about the splitting of responsibilities remains. We have spoken t...More Button

  Amendment No. 20 might not be necessary, unless the Minister were to choose to take a dual application, which would allow both for Tusla to be accessed, in cases where a tribunal needed...More Button

I move amendment No. 20:More Button

  Question, "That section 4 stand part of the Bill", put and declared carried.More Button

  Amendment No. 21 not moved.More Button

I will support the amendment, which relates to the same purpose as my amendments in the grouping, Nos. 36 to 38, inclusive. They seek to ensure the Minister will not tie his hands by limiting the ...More Button

  Amendment No. 37 also relates to the Title. I ask the Minister to provide clarity that he regards the current Long Title, which refers to "matters connected therewith", as wide enough ...More Button

I think the Minister has the powers but I want it to be made more clear. I am not seeking to constrain him. He will have the opportunity to amend the Title, if he so wishes, when he brings the Bi...More Button

I cannot pre-empt what the Minister might need to put into the Long Title, according to the amendments he might make.More Button

That is perfect.More Button

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

  Section 5 agreed to.More Button

I support both of these amendments. The Minister indicated earlier that a form of index is available, but there are a few crucial questions in that regard. This is one of the fundamental asks. W...More Button

  In the interim, it is also very important that we would have a clear index of exactly which records lie with Tusla. That includes that agency's own records and those of other bodies. ...More Button

  I have a related concern with regard to section 3(2). It relates directly to the question of the index, how it might be constituted and one reason it might be important to have an anon...More Button

  I would like to offer a final reminder with regard to amendments Nos. 25 and 27. I know I keep going back to this issue and I know that the Adoption Authority of Ireland is not getting...More Button

I want to make the same point. First, there is a general concern about bad practice, and that bad practice is more of a concern today because the main subject matter of the Bill is so sensitive an...More Button

  Normally, when there is an amendment to an Act, be it the Social Welfare Act or the Judicial Council Act, there would be a proviso for other amendments and allowance for others who wish...More Button

  Of course, the timeline for this is December, not October, which the Minister has stated his timeline to be, and we believe still that it should be November. I want to add my concerns ...More Button

I support the amendment and the idea of a legislative review as it would be appropriate. From the first part of our discussions today the Minister will have heard the concerns and context for the ...More Button

  Equally, it is important that we look to what tools are appropriate, moving forward, because there are other issues. We know that there are scandals and direct provision is one that sp...More Button

  Let me outline a very interesting point in the discussion earlier whereby the 2004 interpretation overruled even the orders made in 2015. The interpretation by the committee was clearl...More Button

I move amendment No. 30:More Button

 Unfortunately, amendments 29 and 31 to 34, inclusive, were ruled out of order. Given the discussion that we have had today around a route to the right to information and ac...More Button

  My amendment No. 30 is the only one of my remaining timeline amendments which is considered within the remit of this Bill. I urge the Minister to consider accepting it.More Button

I believe we are on amendment No. 30, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. Amendment No. 30 asks that the Minister, within eight months of the passing of this Act, would publish legislation on the right to infor...More Button

  This is a special amendment in another way in that it is possibly the Minister's last opportunity to accept an amendment to this Bill in the Seanad. I hope he will consider accepting a...More Button

I understand that. I agree that it is a wider issue. I also understand that the timeframe may need to be wider again. My amendment No. 34, for example, which set a 12-month timeline and dealt wi...More Button

  I echo the comments of Senator Pauline O'Reilly regarding the engagement with stakeholders. Of course, that is important. It is important to state that there is a wide breadth of orga...More Button

I move amendment No. 35:More Button

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

I move amendment No. 36:More Button

I move amendment No. 37:More Button

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

I move amendment No. 38:More Button

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

  Title agreed to.More Button

  Bill reported without amendment.More Button

The Minister knows my views and all Members have articulated theirs. The Minister has engaged on a number of issues and I urge him to continue to engage in a similar constructive manner with both ...More Button

  There is a great deal of hurt and disappointment with the mother and baby home commission and with some of the process.More Button

The fact that the amendment deadline for the Dáil was moved to Monday is important. That is vital for democracy. I hope the Dáil will be able to build on the debate we have had here in terms of i...More Button

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An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

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Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill 2020: Second Stage (Resumed)

Yes IndicatorVoted Yes More Button

Shannon Group: Motion (Resumed)

No IndicatorVoted No More Button