February 2, 2023

Kilkenny TD demands answers for Mother and Baby Homes abuse victims

Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion has written to the Data Protection Commissioner to ask if the Government has broken Irish and European law by voting to “seal” the records of victims who suffered abuse in Mother and Baby homes.

Deputy Funchion (pictured below), who is Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for children, said: “I have written to the Data Commissioner to request that they provide the observations provided by them to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on the Bill during the Department’s Data Protection Impact Assessments process (DPIAs).

“I am anxious to focus on solutions that we can bring forward now, particularly through legislation. We want to make sure the right thing is done by the survivors. We stand in solidarity with all survivors and their families and want to assure them that we will continue to work on this issue.”

However, the Government has strenuously denied there has been any “blanket ban” or “seal” on survivors’ records.

In a recent interview, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said anyone who wants access to their individual personal information can have access to that under GDPR.

Mr Varadkar said he understands there has been a” huge outpouring of emotion and empathy around this” but he added: “Some people have genuinely got the wrong message about this. This is the situation. The database, the archive is not going to be sealed and put away and hidden for 30 years. That’s not going to happen; that was never the intention. It’s going to be protected, it’s going to be preserved and for people who want access to their personal information, we’ll make sure that they’re able to get that access.

“For people who want their personal information to remain private – and that’s their right too – it’ll remain private and we’re certainly not going to allow a situation whereby the secrets of the past remain hidden. We’re not going to allow this very dark period of history to be swept under the carpet. That’s not going to happen. The records are not going to be sealed and locked away for 30 years. They’re going to be protected andpreserved and those who want access to their personal information will get that access.”

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