The Commission set up to investigate Mother and Baby homes has been given another year to complete its work.
It was due to report in February, but has asked for more time to ensure key questions are fully answered.
The Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has said she understands that many former residents of the homes will find the delay frustrating, however she believes the extra time will ensure crucial questions can be fully addressed.
“It is important that we do not underestimate the complexity of this task and we must not compromise the process of establishing the truth by leaving any stone uncovered or taking any shortcuts,” she said.
“I do understand that this extension of time delays the day which many former residents have been eagerly anticipating.
“I know many will be disappointed and frustrated by this development.”
She said she had asked the Commission to make every effort to complete its investigation, “as soon as practicable, and in advance of February 2019 if possible.”
Following the announcement, groups representing survivors of the institutions expressed their outrage and fury at the decision.
The Coalition of Mother And Baby Home Survivors (CMABS) said the survivor community is "elderly" and warned that "many hundreds have already died" since the inquiry was announced.
CMABS chair Paul Redmond said the decision was "yet another delaying tactic by the Government to deny survivors truth and justice."
"The current inquiry is already too limited and excludes many survivors and this delay will now enure that thousands more survivors are denied justice by death," he said.
The group has demanded that the government immediately offer:
- An Acknowledgment of the horror of the Mother and Baby homes
- An official Apology to the survivor community
- An interim Redress payment to the elderly and dying survivor community
Minister Zappone said the Commission will use the additional time to allow many more witnesses to provide accounts of their personal experiences at Irish Mother and Baby homes.
“The additional time will ensure crucial questions can be fully addressed to provide the answers to which the former residents are entitled,” she said.
“I have asked that former residents and their representative groups be kept informed of these developments.”
Terms of reference
Meanwhile she said it was “not in the public interest at this time” to extend the Commission’s terms of reference to examine any further matters.
She said the current investigation must be completed before, “it can be definitively established whether additional matters may warrant investigation.”
The Government will consider a possible extension after the Commission completes its current work.
In the meantime, the Government is introducing a new ‘Collaborative Forum’ to support survivors ahead of the Commission’s final report.
Minister Zappone said the forum will support residents in “developing solutions to the issues of concern to them” and allow them to “actively contribute to decisions on matters which affect their lives.”
The process for selecting representatives to the new forum will be announced in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Pablo deGreiff, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence has been invited to visit Ireland.
The Government has said the invitation will be issued “in recognition of Ireland’s absolute commitment to human rights” adding that Ireland will “meet these high standards” regarding the Mother and Baby home survivors.