The Minister for Children has defended the Government's decision to place testimonies given by survivors to the Commission of Investigation on Mother and Baby Homes into the National Centre for Research and Remembrance.
In June last year, Roderic O'Gorman indicated a review of the testimony given by survivors to the Confidential Committee - created alongside the Commission - may be possible.
The aim of the confidential committee was to allow those with lived experience of the institutions to provide their accounts as informally as possible. However, many survivors were disappointed that their stories were not reflected in the final report.
There were calls for an independent examination of the testimony given by survivors after a member of the commission of investigation revealed at an Oxford University seminar, that the personal stories had been discounted because they were provided in private and not under oath.
Shortly after that seminar there was further disquiet when survivors were given the understanding that the audio recordings of their testimonies had been deleted. The Department eventually managed to secure them.
At the time, the Minister spoke about ensuring the testimonies of those that went before the confidential committee were on the public record and many understood that he was exploring the option of establishing an International Expert Group to review them.
However, this evening, the Minister told the Oireachtas Children's Committee that the continuing influence of the legal framework provided by the Oireachtas to facilitate and direct the independent Commission's work had to be recognised.
"Significant legal complexities would arise in seeking to facilitate an external review of accounts provided privately and in confidence within the robust legal framework of a Commission of Investigation," he said.
According to the Minister, Government could not, via a non-statutory process, retrospectively alter or interrogate the independent Commission’s findings or methodology.
"We must be upfront in relation to such complexities. This does not prevent human rights experts, or others, from further analysis of these matters," he said.
The Minister expressed the belief that a review could not fully respond to the concerns of those who were unhappy with the record of their testimony created by the Commission.
He said it would not change the Commission's report and would completely exclude those who had not engaged with the Commission - who have the opportunity to place their personal stories on the public record and made available at the National Centre for Research and Remembrance.
The Minister did not specifically answer a question posed by the Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns, on whether the plan for an independent review was "poorly prepared or abandoned" or if another state actor had shut it down.
Despite newspaper coverage at the time, he said there were no specific proposals to establish an independent expert review panel prepared for Cabinet in June 2021.
He said the approach adopted under the "lived experience initiative" will be one that is "trauma informed"; undertaken by people who have an understanding of oral history and human rights and who know how people giving their personal stories should be treated.