The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O'Gorman is to introduce legislation to safeguard information collected by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission.
The aim of the General Scheme of the Preservation and Transfer of Specified Records of the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Bill is to support the Commission in handing over its archive, in complete form to the Minister and also transfer a specific database which it has developed to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Earlier this year, the Commission informed the Department that it had compiled a database of the mothers and children who were resident in the main mother and baby homes. It noted that this database could be of considerable assistance to those providing information and tracing services.
The proposed legislation is being advanced to address concerns raised by the Commission about the need for it to redact personal information, and the impact which such redactions would have in terms of effectively destroying this database.
Given that the source information primarily existed in hard copy ledgers and similar format original documents, the database makes this information markedly more searchable, reduces the risk of wear and tear on the primary source material, and safeguards against loss of the information in the event of destruction of the primary source material.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs accepted the suggestion of the Commission that bespoke legislation is required in advance of the final report deadline in order to provide urgently for the safeguarding and transfer of the Commission database so that it can be used for information and tracing purposes in line with current and future legislation.
A failure to advance the proposed legislation would result in the database being effectively destroyed. Ultimately, a new database would have to be developed to support future information and tracing with the resultant loss of investment of time and expenditure of approximately €1m already incurred by the Commission.
The Commission is due to submit its final report by the 30 October.