Government approves short extension to ensure the Commission can effectively complete its work at the earliest possible date
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has today (14/02/2020) confirmed that she has received a Sixth Interim Report from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Although it is a short report it nonetheless raises complex issues related to the completion of the Commission’s programme of work.
Most significantly, because the Commission is required to transfer its records to the Minister and deal with third party legal costs prior to submitting its final report, the Commission has requested an extension of time to enable it to effectively manage these issues. The Commission has highlighted how these requirements create significant problems in the absence of a further extension of time.
Minister Zappone and her Department engaged with the Commission to identify the absolute earliest date by which the Commission could finalise all matters required to submit a final report. The Commission agreed to the 26 June 2020 and the Government has approved this limited extension. The Commission will now submit a final report and manage the orderly wind–up of its substantial statutory investigation by the 26 June 2020.
While very disappointed that additional time is needed, the Minister accepts that the Commission is using its best endeavours to conclude matters as expeditiously as possible in accordance with the legislative framework.
In responding to this development, Minister Zappone said “I know that many former residents and their families have contributed to this process and are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigation. We can now confidently say that we are nearing the conclusion of this critically important and comprehensive investigative process.
In agreeing to a short extension, the Government’s priority is to avoid any risk to the outcome of this intensive five year investigation and the unique opportunity it presents to acknowledge and better understand the truth of what happened to vulnerable women and children in these institutions.”
The Minister’s immediate concern is to ensure that former residents, their families and supporters are among the first to learn of the new timeframe. The Minister plans to publish the interim report as soon as practicable, subject to further consultation with the Commission.