Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Minister Zappone publishes Recommendations from Collaborative Forum for Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes and Related Institutions.

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Minister Zappone publishes Recommendations from Collaborative Forum for Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes and Related Institutions.Government outlines response to recommendations

·        Package of health and well-being supports to be developed
·        Amendments to the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill
·        Minister developing memorialisation programme 
·        Individual Departments to revert within two months on furthering the recommendations

Tuesday 16th April 2019
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone has announced a series of measures to respond to the Report of the Collaborative Forum for Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes and Related Institutions, the recommendations of which are being published today.
Chief among the measures being announced is a commitment to develop an appropriate package of health and well-being measures which will be brought to Government for approval in September.  There will also be action on adoption legislation, a memorialisation programme and a research project on language and terminology.
In publishing the recommendations today, the Minister said: 
"The Forum has successfully delivered on its initial Charter and mandate.  I am pleased to receive the comprehensive list of recommendations, and I intend to publish the full report after the Commission of Investigation completes its work, subject to any further advices of the Attorney General at that time. I have sent a copy of the full report to the Commission of Investigation."
The Government has committed to advancing consideration of the report and a comprehensive analysis of all of the Forum’s recommendations will now take place, to be completed by relevant Government Departments within two months. Minister Zappone said 
"I am very pleased that the Minister for Health will develop proposals for a package of health and well-being supports, including access to appropriate health and social care measures. The Minister has agreed to set up a working group with officials from my Department to report back to Government by September, in time for the Estimates process leading to Budget 2020.
In my own area, I am proposing to amend key provisions of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill to take account of issues raised by the Forum.  I am also developing a memorialisation programme and the commissioning of research on the use of language and terminology."
In order to meet the concerns expressed by the Forum, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has secured Government approval to amend provisions of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill to provide for the greatest possible release of birth information to adopted persons and to other relevant persons, consistent with the legal and constitutional framework.   Amendments to the provisions of the Bill dealing with the privacy of birth parents are currently being drafted which will seek to remove the requirement for an undertaking to be signed by the person seeking their birth information. 
The Minister also intends to bring forward amendments at Committee Stage in Seanad √Čireann to provide a copy of the birth cert, where this is available on the files in State custody, to an applicant.
The Minister will develop a series of measures including the establishment of a scheme to fund permanent memorials in the locality of mother and baby institutions, provision of financial support to survivor-led groups for annual commemoration events, and a working group to develop a national memorial that commemorates, respects and honours mothers and children held in these Institutions.
A living memorial in digital, audio or visual presentation of information and individual narratives,
will be developed to serve to support the historic preservation of this long episode in our country‘s history.
 Language and terminology is important, and the Forum recommended the establishment of an expert group which would help replace the often derogatory labels which stigmatised those affected.  The Minister will consult the Irish Research Council on how best to put together an appropriate research group for this purpose.
The Minister said: 
"The Collaborative Forum emerged out of a recognised need to progress a number of key areas of concern for former residents.  This new and innovative approach to dialogue empowers former residents to contribute actively to Government deliberations and action on matters of concern to them and their families."
The Minister thanked the Forum for its work and congratulated the members for delivering its proposals in a timely manner.  She said:
"We now have the considered views of those most affected by our history in this area. I am committed to moving forward, and I believe we can make real progress with the initiatives I am announcing today."

Note to Editors
The Collaborative Forum was established in 2018 to facilitate dialogue and action on issues of concern to former residents of Mother and Baby Homes.
Selection of members of the Forum was undertaken by an independent selection panel drawn from persons formerly in such Institutions, advocates and academics. The Forum consists of 19 representative members and a Chairperson. 
The purpose of the Collaborative Forum is to build upon the process of engagement and consultation with former residents commenced through the facilitated meetings hosted by Minister Zappone in June and October 2017.
The Forum enables former residents to identify, discuss and prioritise the issues of concern to them.  It facilitates the active participation of former residents in recommending actions and solutions to address their concerns, including those issues raised in the reports of the facilitated meetings.
The recommendations reflect the output of the deliberations of the Forum and its subcommittees. 
This Collaborative Forum is independent of and separate to any work being carried out by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters.
The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters (www.mbhcoi.com) was established by Government in 2015 to provide a full account of what happened to women and children in these institutions during the period 1922 to 1998.
The Commission is due to report to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on 17th February 2020.

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