Press Release: Senator Bacik calls for Urgent Debate on Commissions of Investigation

29 October 2009

STATEMENT BY SENATOR IVANA BACIK

Senator for Dublin UniversityPanel

Thursday 29th October 2009

SENATOR BACIK CALLS FOR URGENT DEBATE

ON COMMISSIONS OF INVESTIGATION

Speaking in the Seanad today, Senator Ivana Bacik called for an urgent debate on the operation of section 38 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. She said this was urgent in the context of the delayed publication of the report of the Commission of Investigation into child sex abuse allegations in the Dublin Archdiocese.

Noting that the Dublin Archdiocese Commission is investigating the response of both Church and State authorities to the allegations of abuse, she said:

“The Minister has sought directions from the High Court under section 38 of the Act. The High Court has already ordered the deletion of one chapter of the report, and further directions are now being sought from the Court. I am very concerned about the lack of fairness in the procedures under section 38. The hearing is in private, with no media present. The only persons represented are the State authorities – in this case, themselves under investigation - and any defendants in relevant criminal proceedings, ie alleged abusers.”

Senator Bacik said that the unfortunate effect of section 38 could be that reports from commissions of investigation might be neutered before they could be published:

“Section 38 does not give any right to be heard, for example, to the survivors or victims of abuse, or the Commission itself. Yet the effect of the section could be to compromise the reports of commissions of investigation, by ensuring that they are neutered before they are published. There is a clear public interest in reviewing the operation of section 38, to ensure greater rights to representation and greater transparency in the process.”

ENDS