The Government will bring forward new legislation on the right to access personal information following the publication of a report on the country’s mother and baby homes, the Minister for Children has said.
Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland programme, Roderic O’Gorman said he had asked the Attorney General to look into the matter and that he aims to introduce the proposed legislation in the Dáil by the end of the year.
He wants the right of an individual to have vital personal information about themselves to form the basis of new legislation, he added.
“From the end of February, my department will be in a position to address subject access requests coming in to the department regarding personal information contained in the archive of investigations,” he said.
“As regards the wider piece of GDPR legislation, I’ll be prioritising that over the course of this year, I would hope to bring it to pre-legislative scrutiny this year and hopefully bring it into the Oireachtas by the end of this year.”
Minister O’Gorman said it was important an apology to the survivors of the mother and baby homes is made today.
Some survivors have asked for more time to read the Commission of Investigation’s 3,000-page report into the homes for unmarried mothers and their children, before the Taoiseach makes a formal apology in the Dáil this afternoon.
“It is clear that the State and successive governments failed in any way to address this issue, and I think it is important in that context, that the State, as part of the set of responses that it put out yesterday, the first one of these is an apology,” the Minister said.
Such an apology, he added, could be used as the basis to try to rebuild trust with survivors that had been “so badly damaged”.
I don’t think the Taoiseach or anyone in the Government is trying to in any way foist or deflect responsibility
Mr O’Gorman rejected any suggestion that the Government was trying to foist responsibility for the mother and baby homes scandal on to society.
He said: “I don’t think the Taoiseach or anyone in the Government is trying to in any way foist or deflect responsibility.
“That’s why the apology is coming. That’s why we set out 22 actions in our action plan of responses to this report.”
He added: “The fact that the Taoiseach on behalf of the State is making an apology today does make it very clear that this Government takes responsibility on behalf of the State for the failings that are manifestly clear within this report.”