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Statement on Mother and Baby Homes Confidential Committee Audio Recordings

On Monday 21st February, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters notified the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth, that it had retrieved the backup tapes containing the audio recordings from the Confidential Committee from their off-site storage.

An IT expert has checked whether the audio recordings are retrievable by testing a random sample and verified that they are accessible and audible.  The Commission has agreed to deposit the audio recordings with the Department; this is in keeping with other actions it is taking to transfer the rest of the archive to the Minister who will become data controller next week.

The Commission has stated that approximately 80 people have sought for their interview with the Confidential Committee to be redacted. The Commission is now considering how this will be done and has reiterated its commitment to maintain the anonymity of these people.

In the interim, the Department continues its preparations to become data controller of the Mother and Baby Homes archive from February 28 and is liaising with the Data Protection Commission in this regard.

In the Commission’s recent communications with the Minister, it restated the actions it took to preserve the accounts and experiences of the 550 people who appeared before the Confidential Committee, for future generations. Each interview was attended by two Commission staff. The Commission said that the interviews were audio recorded purely as an aide memoire to ensure that the documented account of the survivor’s experience, which would later inform a published report on their experiences, reflected accurately the personal accounts they shared with the Committee. Whilst the audio recordings were later deleted, the Commission stated that the process ensured that the personal experience of 550 people was heard, documented in an accurate manner and published by way of a summary report.   

Minister O’Gorman said:

“The retrieval of audio recordings from the back up tapes and their imminent transfer to my Department now provides another avenue for the people who appeared before the Committee to access their personal data. The request of the approximately 80 people to have their identities redacted will be respected and my department will liaise with the Commission as current data controller in this regard. If any of the people who appeared before the Committee consider that their record is inaccurate or incomplete, they will be able to exercise their GDPR rights with the Department once it becomes data controller. This will involve them making a request to exercise their right to rectification after the archive transfers to my Department”.  

The Department will shortly publish information on how people can access their data once it becomes data controller next week.