'It's impossible to put a figure on the suffering' - Minister defends Mother and Baby redress

Payments will range from €5,000 to €60,000, depending on time spent in the institutions
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.02 17 Nov 2021

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'It's impossible to put a figu...

'It's impossible to put a figure on the suffering' - Minister defends Mother and Baby redress

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.02 17 Nov 2021

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Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman says it is not possible to put a figure on suffering endured by women and children in Mother and Baby Homes.

He was speaking as around 34,000 survivors will be eligible for a payment under a new redress scheme.

The scheme will provide survivors with financial redress, and access to an enhanced medical card for 19,000 of them, "in acknowledgment of the suffering experienced while resident" in the homes.


The €800m scheme still needs to be legislated for, with the Government aiming to have it open for applications by late 2022.

Minister O'Gorman told Newstalk Breakfast this is 'an element of support' for survivors

"It's designed to be easily accessible, there'll be a low burden of proof - so survivors won't be re-traumatised in terms of seeking access to the scheme.

"I think importantly, it moves far beyond the criteria that were set out for redress in the Commission's report last January.

"The use of the 1974 date as a cut-off point, we've moved past that - the distinction being made between accompanied and unaccompanied children, we've moved past that.

"We're also providing a payment to every mother who was in these institutions, irrespective of the time that they were in there, to recognise the impact of time spent within these institutions."

He acknowledged the payment is staged from between three months to 10 years, depending on how long a person spent there.

"For someone who was in for a short period of time, so for under three months, the initial payment is €5,000.

"For three to six months it's €10,000 and it goes up to €60,000 for 10 years.

"It's impossible to put a figure on the suffering that women and children encountered in these institutions, we can never monetise this.

"But what we're trying to do is provide an element of support to survivors to recognise what they went through - and what they went through was because of the failures of the State".

Information and Tracing Bill

Children are to receive redress but not for those who were there for less than six months - with some survivors claiming this does not take account of forced adoptions.

Minister O'Gorman says they are making provision for adoptees to get information.

"Particularly for children who were in these institutions, in my engagements with them, their key priorities is access to information - getting that birth cert, getting the name of your birth mother.

"That's why we've brought in the Information and Tracing Bill... and almost 300 people have made subject access requests to get their personal information from my department.

"So we are making provision for those who were adopted, who desperately want to find out information about their mother, about their original family.

"We've had a barrier in Irish law on this for the last 20 years, and when the Information and Tracing Bill is passed that barrier will be removed".

Asked about contributions to the scheme by religious orders, Minister O'Gorman says apologies need to be matched with actions.

"I want to meet with various congregations first and engage with them in terms of them making a substantial contribution to this scheme.

"I know many of these congregations have apologised, but they now need to go further and contribute to the scheme."

Asked if the Government can compel religious orders to contribute, he says: "I want to engage first to seek their own contribution to this scheme.

"And I'm not taking anything off the table at this stage... but we'll be entering into a negotiation with them.

"And I think it's absolutely essential, if their apology is to mean anything, that their words are matched with actions".

'It's impossible to put a figure on the suffering' - Minister defends Mother and Baby redress

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1974 Information And Tracing Bill Mother And Baby Homes Mother And Baby Redress Newstalk Breakfast Redress Scheme Religious Orders Roderic O'Gorman

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