Statements have been heard in the Dáil on the Commission of Investigation into mother-and-baby homes.

Minister for Children James Reilly told the Dáil the Government was committed to establishing an effective commission that could deliver on public expectations in a realistic manner.

He said his department had already discussed and corresponded on preliminary draft terms of reference with the Attorney General and her officials.

The minister said he aims to be in a position to bring a memorandum to Government setting out the proposed terms of reference together with a statement of the estimated cost.

Mr Reilly said he expected to return to the Dáil and Seanad early in the autumn with a draft order to establish the commission.

Labour TD Anne Ferris called for the investigation to be "broad and comprehensive".

Ms Ferris, who was born in a mother-and-baby home, said Mr Reilly must make the commission his top priority.

She said: "The mother-and-baby homes, the adoption processes, the Magdalene Laundries, the private nursing homes, the county homes, the church hierarchies, the religious organisations and the State are all part of a very large jigsaw puzzle that must be looked at in its entirety.

"Until this is done openly, honestly and comprehensively, the gaps in the lives of families all over the country cannot begin to be filled."

Ms Ferris also gave an emotional account of the first meeting she had with her sister, who was also adopted from a mother-and-baby home.

She said: "Before two weeks ago, I'd never laid eyes on my sister. Each of us was adopted from a different mother-and-baby home into different families, eventually ending up living in different countries.

"Sitting together we looked like sisters, but we didn't talk like sisters. Where other sisters in our age group have shared experiences and a shared family experience, we have just had a very long gap in our lives.

"She doesn't know my children and I've never met hers. We look very alike but so far that's the only aspect of our lives that we share."