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IWSSN Welcomes Irish Government’s Decision to Retain Commission Records

The Irish Women Survivors Support Network (IWSSN) welcomes the enactment of the General Scheme of a Retention of Records Bill, 2015, which will preserve the records relating to evidence provided to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee.

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD, proposed the Bill and recognised the importance of not destroying important and sensitive records, out of respect for those who gave evidence and in a move to protect history for future generations.

The Bill outlines that on the dissolution of the various bodies that relate to previous Commissions, records will be deposited with the National Archives of Ireland where they will be preserved and sealed for a period of 75 years. After the 75 year period the records will be available for public inspection, subject to various regulations.

Through IWSSN’s support and advice work, serving the UK-based Irish Survivor community, the organisation and its clients supports this important Bill and the preservation of records that are of a highly sensitive nature. Over the years, many clients of IWSSN have shared their discomfort and disappointment about the prospect of such crucial records being destroyed, particularly because the Irish Survivor community already feel that historically their pasts and experiences have been hidden from public view.

Sally Mulready, Chair of IWSSN, said:

“A great deal of time, effort and emotion went into providing evidence to the various governmental bodies that investigated historical child abuse within Irish care institutions, run by religious congregations. It would have certainly been more than a pity for such important records to be destroyed – it would have been insensitive and careless.

“Irish Survivors of institutional care have been hidden from Irish society for too much of Irish history, and now, after much of what happened to Survivors has come to the fore, it is more important than ever to protect the stories, information and documentation that relate to Survivors’ pasts. It is important for Survivors themselves – in recognising the importance of preserving their contributions to inquiries – and it is important for the country, to be able to remember what happened and to prevent it from ever happening again.”