Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore has spoken out against the Government after they failed to act on a Social Democrats motion calling for the extension of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby homes by one year. The Commission is due to wrap up on February 28th (this Sunday). Deputy Whitmore says the Government was playing political games at the cost of survivors.
Speaking following the Dáil debate on the Social Democrats’ Private Members’ Motion calling for an extension, Deputy Whitmore said:
“The eleventh-hour discovery of backup recordings of survivors’ testimonies should not have stopped the Government from extending the Commission by one year. By not contesting our motion while at the same time not enacting it by extending the commission, the Government is playing political games but at the cost of survivors’ search for truth and justice.
“If anything, the sudden recovery of the survivors’ recordings makes the need for the Commission to be extended even more justifiable. There are so many unanswered questions arising from this latest development – questions that cannot possibly be answered by the time the Commission is due to be dissolved in a few days’ time.
“We have been told that a sample of the 550 recordings have been tested and are accessible and audible. However, are survivors now expected to take that leap of faith that every single last testimony is available and are all intact? What happens in the coming weeks if it is discovered that some elements of the testimonies are, in fact, gone? Who answers to that and who is accountable then?
“The retrieval of this data is only one element of why the Commission needs to remain in existence. Many survivors do not believe that the Commission’s final report accurately reflected their lived experiences. Without transcripts of their testimonies, it going to be near impossible to prove that this was the case.
“In addition, if survivors choose to seek a judicial review in their search for justice, they will be stymied by the dissolution of the Commission on February 28. It will be impossible for them to secure answers from a body that no longer exists.
“It is clear from Opposition contributions in the Dáil that there is widespread political support for the Social Democrats’ motion. However, the Government while not contesting the motion, has not committed to extending the Commission by one year which is a purely cynical act of playing political games which has caused more damage to survivors” concludes Whitmore.