Commission’s terms of reference must be right – Ó Caoláin
Concluding the Sinn Féin Dáil debate on mother and baby homes, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the terms of reference must be proper and appropriate. He said:
“It is essential now that we set the proper and appropriate terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation. Its scope needs to be wide enough to cover all the key issues involved in the scandal of mother and baby homes. At the same time the terms of reference need to be clear and comprehensive, while making possible a timely conclusion to the work of the Investigation.
“The Commission of Investigation must not focus only on the Bon Secours institution in Tuam but on all such mother and baby institutions that existed in this State in that era. It is essential that there is a full examination of the regimes in those institutions – I will not call them homes.
“This must include the manner in which the women were treated –their accommodation, their food, their medical care or lack of it, the work the women were required to do.
“It must include also the manner in which the children were treated. It must find out why the infant and child mortality rates were so high in these places – because they were extraordinarily high at a time of high but gradually falling infant mortality rates in Irish society generally.
“The Commission must investigate the extent of neglect of the children especially in terms of malnourishment for which there are many indications.
“Adoption practices were central to the operation of these places. It is impossible to envisage any comprehensive investigation which does not thoroughly investigate the issue of adoptions – forced, unauthorised and illegal.
“It must address the appalling practice of experimentation on these children with vaccines. To what extent were the children used as guinea pigs and to what extent were pharmaceutical companies and the medical professions involved?
“I believe we have, collectively, made progress this week, towards finding the truth. The former residents of these horrendous institutions – those still living and those who died in them and after they left them, deserve nothing less.”