A new inter-departmental group will set up a redress scheme for survivors of mother-and-baby homes, the Government has said.

The development follows the publication of the Commission of Investigation report this afternoon.

A Restorative Recognition Programme will be set up, which will be led by the Department of Children. The group will decide on the design of a redress programme.

The Taoiseach said that religious orders involved in mother-and-baby homes should make a contribution to the scheme.

Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman said legislation to allow for exhumation of the burial site at the former home in Tuam, Co Galway will be passed this year.

He said this will allow for identification of children buried there.

Mr O'Gorman added that a national memorial centre for those who were in mother-and-baby homes would be established.

There will also be public access to relevant State files.

The Taoiseach said he would go ahead with a State apology tomorrow despite calls for a delay.

In its report, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes recommended that financial redress or redress in the form of counselling and enhanced medical cards should be made available to former residents of the institutions examined.

The commission said any decision on financial redress is a matter for Government.

However, it said if redress is being considered for former residents of mother-and-baby homes, the relevant comparable redress schemes are the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme (RIRS) (for the children) and the Magdalene Laundries scheme (for the mothers).

The Residential Institutions Redress Scheme was the largest redress scheme provided by the Irish Government.

It covered former residents of industrial schools and of a range of orphanages and hospitals.

The commission noted that the administration arrangements for the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme are still in place and said these arrangements could be used or a different but equivalent scheme could be drawn up.

It said the introduction of the Unmarried Mother's Allowance in 1973 changed the fact that women were unable to provide for their babies.

Therefore, the commission considers that women who entered mother-and-baby homes after 1973 do not have a case for financial redress.

The commission said that women who were resident in the Magdalene Laundries received redress because they were considered to be incarcerated and because they did commercial work for no pay.

It said women who were in mother-and-baby homes were not in quite the same situation as the women in Magdalene Laundries but there are some similarities.

It suggests that three groups be eligible for a redress scheme similar to the Magdalene scheme.

Women in county homes

The report said women who were in county homes did not just look after themselves and their children, they also looked after other residents of the county homes.

These other residents were older people, sick people and people with disabilities, and they were carrying out unpaid work on behalf of local authorities.

"This was difficult, arduous work for which they ought to have been remunerated."

Women in Tuam

The report said that mothers frequently left Tuam several years before their children. This meant that the remaining mothers had to care for their own child as well as a large number of other children.

"It is arguable that they should have been remunerated for this."

Women who worked outside the institutions without pay

It noted there is evidence that some residents of Sean Ross Abbey worked in the local district hospital.

"This should have been remunerated".

It recommends that children who were resident in the other mother-and-baby homes without their mothers also have a strong case for being considered for redress as well as a number of young mothers.

The report said that the commission recognises that it is not possible to provide financial redress for all the wrongs that occurred in the past.

It said that many former residents are managing their lives very well and that it should not be assumed that they are in need of dedicated State support.

It noted that a number of former residents have also expressed the view that an apology would be appropriate.

Mother-and-baby home survivor Philomena Lee urges others to come forward

Commission's findings on information and tracing 

The Commission of Investigation defended the Child and Family Agency Tusla on the issue of information and tracing.

In a section on information and tracing it said it found many of the former residents who went to the commission were "very critical of the information and tracing arrangements in place".

It describes "quite vitriolic criticism" of Tusla and its approach to providing information to adopted people.

However, it says this criticism is unfair and misplaced.

Tusla it says is implementing the law and has no choice about doing so.

The problem is not with Tusla; it is with the law, it says, adding that any other agency providing information and tracing services would be in the same position.

The commission says it's clear that many adopted people think there is considerably more information about them in institutional and other records than is actually the case.

It says that having examined the available records closely, the information is very limited in most cases and the quantity and quality of the available information is not relevant to the issue of whether or not there should be a right of access.

The commission notes that this matter has been under consideration by a succession of governments since the 1990s and attempts to legislate for this right have, so far, failed.

It says it understands that the Attorney General has advised that it was constitutionally unacceptable to allow unrestricted access to birth information for adopted people and the current government and Minister Roderic O'Gorman have committed to introducing such legislation.

The commission considers that there should be such a right even though it says it is acutely conscious of the concerns expressed by some birth mothers about this.

"If, as seems likely, a referendum is required to allow for the necessary legislation, then one should be held", it says.

It says adopted people should have a right to their birth certificates and associated birth information. That a person’s right to his or her identity is an important human right and should only be denied in very exceptional circumstances.

It notes that medical information and adoption records compiled at the time of the adoption should also be available.

"A mechanism could be put in place to allow a birth mother to argue that her privacy rights are being eroded" through in-camera proceedings in the Circuit Court.

The commission also considers that there should be a central repository of the records of institutions and adoption societies so that information can be obtained from one place.

It says the database of individuals compiled from the institutional records of the various institutions could be expanded by adding further records to it.

Additional reporting Ailbhe Conneely

The National Counselling Service has been asked to provide counselling to former residents through its counselling locations.

For information on available supports and information on how to access the HSE live team are on 1800 817 517, Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm.

More helpline details here