Mother and baby home inquiry may be expanded

Katherine Zappone also said she will consider a "transitional justice" approach similar to that used in South Africa following Apartheid

Mother and baby home inquiry may be expanded

Katherine Zappone. Image:

Ireland may be set for a South African-style 'truth and reconciliation commission' in order to deal with the legacy of mother and baby homes.

The Minister for Children told the Dáil this afternoon that it will be important to learn from international best practice to ensure some measure of justice for survivors of the homes.

Katherine Zappone said she will consider a "transitional justice" approach which has been used in the past to enable societies to deal with large-scale historical abuses.

She pointed to the approach taken in Argentina and Chile in the 1980s and early 1990’s as examples of what can be achieved.

The commissions were undertaken in an effort to unearth the truth about human rights violations that occurred while the countries were under military control.

This method was later undertaken in South Africa following the end of Apartheid:

“Taking a transitional justice approach means that we will find out and record the truth, ensure accountability, make reparation, undertake institutional reform and achieve reconciliation,” she said.

Minister Zappone also confirmed she would consider expanding the inquiry to cover other homes around the country:

“I want to acknowledge the calls made since Friday for an expansion of the terms of reference to cover all institutions, agencies and individuals that were involved with Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children,” she said.

“I can commit to deputies that a scoping exercise will be carried out to examine this.”

The Minister said she will announce the outcome of the exercise “in the coming weeks.”

She also confirmed that she will be publishing the second interim report of the current commission at the end of March.

The debate on the discovery of human remains at the Tuam home was delayed this morning - because not enough TDs showed up.

It is the second day running that the Dáil has been delayed in reaching the minimum number of 20 required to begin a debate, following a 10-minute delay to the debate surrounding the terms of reference for the ‘Grace’ case.