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Government must fulfil Labour amendment to Mother and Baby and County home redress scheme to extend enhanced medical card to all survivors

16 November 2021

• A Labour amendment to a motion passed by Dáil Éireann in February would give an entitlement to a medical card for all former residents of Mother and Baby and County Homes.
• The Government’s proposal would restrict this to those who spent longer than 6 months in an institution.

Labour TD Ivana Bacik has welcomed the publication of the Action Plan for Survivors and Former Residents of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions and the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme, but has asked why a Labour amendment to a private members motion on the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which was passed by the Dáil, has not been accepted.

Deputy Bacik said:

“I am relieved to see detail of the proposed redress scheme for survivors of Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes published today. The national conversation initiated by the publication and debate of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes marked a painful but cathartic moment for survivors and their families, as well as for society.

“Ireland’s history of institutional abuse, particularly of women and children, is nothing short of horrific. The report and testimonies of survivors exposed institutional and structural abuse; and the violations of the human rights of women and children by State and Church authorities in Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes until as recently as 1998.

“As Labour Spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality & Integration, I wish to express my sincere sympathies, as well as those of my Labour Party colleagues, to survivors and their families. I hope that the measures put forward by the Government will give them the support they deserve, as well as recognition of the trauma they should never have endured.

“However, one element of the redress scheme is missing. We have learned today that enhanced medical cards will only be provided to those who were resident in a Mother and Baby or County Home Institution for six months or more.

“This goes against what was agreed when Dáil Éireann accepted an amendment to a private members motion brought forward by my colleague Seán Sherlock TD. This amendment would have given an entitlement to an enhanced medical card to anyone who spent any period of time in one of these institutions.

“We must remember that many women would have entered homes towards the very end of their pregnancy, and would have spent considerably less than six months there; yet they will not be eligible if the Minister applies a six-month rule.

“The exclusion of this provision is disappointing, particularly given that Deputy Sherlock’s amendment passed with support from Government TDs. It is incumbent on the Minister to adopt this measure. It is the least that is owed to the individual women so severely affected.”