The State should be forced to open its records

The Green Party Minister, Roderic O’Gorman, has been forced to back down and process data access requests for records on Mother and Baby Homes.

But a full victory has not yet been won because O’ Gorman claims that those seeking records will have to undergo ‘two tests’.

One states that a ‘restriction on access to information may be necessary and proportionate to safeguard the operation of Commissions of Investigation, and the future cooperation of witnesses’.

This is a catch all-excuse that can be used by any Minister to restrict access.

And while access for survivors to their personal records is welcome, it is far from enough.

The Irish state must be forced to open up all its records pertaining to Mother and Babies Homes.

Let’s just take just one horrific example.

The Catholic Church was exporting ‘illegitimate babies’ to the United States in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

After the Second World War, Ireland gained a reputation where US servicemen and their spouses could obtain babies easily.

There were babies available for adoption in the US but, in a racist atmosphere, there was a demand for ‘white’ babies with no danger of ‘coloured genes’ lurking in their DNA.

The Catholic Church engaged in this trade both for money – and to prevent these babies falling into the hands of Irish Protestants.

In an unspeakable act of cruelty, the babies were often kept with their mothers for a year and then taken off them by the nuns.

The Irish state knew that all this was happening – and co-operated in the export of babies.ALL the records on this scandalous activity must now be opened up. The Catholic Church should also be required to make their records available, as well as pay out proper compensation to victims.

Shockingly, the Church has gotten away with paying very little compensation to victims of abuse, due to the Woods deal signed in 2002, which capped the churchs’ liability for child abuse compensation at €127 million.

Whilst a further €352.6m was pledged under the a later 2009 deal, only €253.65m has been paid by the Church.

For context, the bill to the State stands at €1.4 billion.

Not only have the Church failed to pay compensation for their heinous crimes, but incredibly, they still run the majority of our hospitals.

Bon Secours – the Order responsible for the Tuam babies atrocities runs the majority of private hospitals in the country, making huge profits.

How they can be permitted to be in charge of the care of anybody is truly gobsmacking.

This state has a lot more to do to prove to survivors that they actually take these crimes of abuse seriously.

Survivors need full disclosure, and they need justice.