The first meeting of the Collaborative Forum was held on Thursday 26th July in Government Buildings Minister Katherine Zappone was in attendance at this inaugural meeting and addressed the Forum’s 20 members, thanking them for their commitment and highlighting the value of the Forum as -
“A real opportunity for us to take one more step in putting our shameful past behind us — not forgetting it, or simply ‘moving on’, but acknowledging, knowing, recording, and building on it; using our past to help us to move forward”.
The Minister outlined her vision for the Forum saying that -
“This Forum is intended to be a new, innovative and, crucially, collaborative way of making decisions on matters of concern to you, and to the other former residents of Mother and Baby Homes and their families. Your participation is absolutely vital”.
The Minister thanked the independent Selection Panel for their work in selecting the Forum’s representatives.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs received 90 expressions of interest from people interested in be coming a member of the Collaborative Forum. From these 90 expressions of interest, 19 members were nominated by the Selection Panel for appointment by Minister Zappone.
The 20 members of the Forum are:
|Rosmary Adaser||Mary Lawlor|
|Conrad Bryan||Susan Lohan|
|Carmel Cantwell||Samantha Long|
|Alice Carroll||Patrick McDonagh|
|Alice Coughlan||Alice McEvoy|
|Kathy Finn||Helen McGree|
|Mary Harney||Finbar O'Regan|
|Bernie Harold||Amanda Quigley|
|Terri Harrisson||Paul Redmond|
|Sydney Herdman||Gerry Kearney (Chair)|
The Minister outlined her hopes for the future of the Forum -
“It is my hope that your deliberations today and in the future will support, facilitate and empower you to find solutions to the issues that the community you are here to represent feel so strongly about”.
The Forum will be establishing three sub-committees, each with a unique focus, which will be tasked with examining specific issues on a modular basis to facilitate the Forum in making recommendations to the Minister. Minister Zappone has asked the Forum to provide its first report and recommendations within 6 months of its establishment. The Minister will work with her government colleagues to address these issues. The next meeting of the Collaborative Forum is due to take place in September.
Updates on the work of the Forum will be published on the Collaborative Forum section of the Department’s
On Monday 23rd July, Minister Katherine Zappone hosted a public meeting at the Ard Rí House Hotel, in Tuam County Galway. The meeting was held as an opportunity for the Minister to engage in a dialogue with former residents, family members and local residents in advance of bringing a proposal to Government on the future of the site at Tuam.
At this meeting the Minister underlined some of the key principles that would be guiding her decision such as a commitment to complying with international best practice standards; ensuring those affected are central to the design and implementation of any approach; a focus on a women's and children rights and a commitment to developing real partnerships through which decisions can be made and implemented.
Minister Zappone outlined her own view on what should happen at the site -
“Based on my considerations so far, I believe that an approach based on human rights and the principles I have already
outlined would involve taking all reasonable steps to investigate the scope for retrieval of human remains and, if logistically possible, to exhume and re-inter the bodies in a respectful and sensitive manner”.
The Minister also spoke of the significant ethical, legal and logistical challenges facing any course of action at the site.
The Minister added that -
“I very much hope to be able to bring proposals to Government by the early Autumn, and I commit to being as open as
possible as things develop.
It is always my intention to carry out my role as Minister in a transparent manner, to keep people informed of my deci-
sions, to explain delays, and to listen and hear what people have to say.
This is particularly true in relation to the Mother and Baby Homes matters.
Unfortunately, solutions are often harder to find than expected, and delays sometimes cannot be avoided.
What I can assure you of however is my commitment to moving this issue forward, to working in partnership with all
those affected, and to being as honest as I can be about the decisions that are being made, the basis upon which they are
being made, and the challenges we face in trying to give effect to them”.
A full copy of the Minister’s statement can be found on the Department’s website.