Commission TULSA Access to Records
KRW LAW LLP (KRW) represents a number of people, including survivor groups, who gave evidence to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation Commission.
Following the decision of the President of Ireland to sign into law The Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Act 2020 there was concern amongst those who had engaged with the Commission that their Witness Statements and Evidence would not be available to them.
The Commission formally ceases to exist in 2021 and its archival database will be transferred to TULSA (Child and Family Agency).
Following protests the Irish Government was forced to clarify its position on access to documents.
RTE reported on 28 October that:
“The Government has clarified that adoptees and survivors of mother and baby homes are legally entitled to access their personal data. A Government statement this evening said the cabinet had had a ‘detailed reflection’ on issues raised in recent days, and said it “acknowledges and regrets the genuine hurt felt by many people”.
The Belfast Telegraph reported on 3 November that Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said:
“My department will engage with the Data Protection Commissioner to flesh out the implications of that for my department and how we will treat each individual data access request.”
KRW has now made requests to both the Commission and TULSA to have the Witness Statements and Evidence provided to the former by a number of our clients under the relevant provisions of the freedom of information regime.
Owen Beattie, Solicitor, KRW said:
“Recent events have caused distress to those we represent who engaged with the Commission in good faith. The Irish Government must now hold to its statement that those requesting material will be provided with it. It cannot hide by unlawful exemptions or restrictions, as is clear from EU law. Should either the Commission or TULSA seek to deny access to these records then we will seek to challenge that decision.”