A SURVIVOR of Bessborough Mother and Baby Home has said receiving the news that the Commision of Investigation has been delayed for 12 months was like being “hit with a baseball bat”.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr Katherine Zappone has announced that the final report into Mother and Baby Homes, which was due to be published in February, would now be delayed for a further year so that the Commission can complete its fact-gathering process and “comprehensively address” the public’s concerns.
Joan McDermott of Irish First Mothers, originally from Mitchelstown, was interned at Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in the late 1960s and was separated from her son for over 50 years.
She now campaigns on behalf of women who were in similar positions.
She said the move by the Minister Zappone is “disingenuous” to people waiting for answers, many of whom are now elderly.
“I don’t buy it. I think it’s a delaying tactic,” she said.
“I spent a whole day with Minister Zappone a couple of months ago and she gave us her reassurance that by the end of January or the beginning of February the final report of Commissioner’s findings would be completed.
“She said she was mindful that many of us are elderly.
“I’m very disappointed that the widening of the terms of reference will not include the Mother and Baby Homes and industrial schools that we have been asking for.
“We are looking at a general election at some point, it’s a delaying tactic, particularly in addressing redress.
“In 2019, Minister Zappone might not be in situ and we go back to square one with a minister that will have to familiarise themselves with the whole situation.
“I’m angry, cross and saddened, but I’m not surprised,” she added.
Ms McDermott said people who had revisited the trauma of their past had been let down by the latest delay.
“For those of us who took part in the Commision, it was daunting, it opened up a lot of wounds and the only bit of solace is that we would have the report and we were waiting for it.
“Now we have to wait another 12 months. It’s despicable,” she said.
“I have no faith in Minister Zappone or her Government,” she added.
Announcing the Government decision, Minister Zappone said: “It is important that we do not underestimate the complexity of this task and we must not compromise the process of establishing the truth by leaving any stone uncovered or taking any shortcuts. I do understand that this extension of time delays the day which many former residents have been eagerly anticipating. I know many will be disappointed and frustrated by this development.”