Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Some witnesses not told recordings would be destroyed

Some witnesses not told recordings would be destroyed

“I’ll take this to the grave with me,” the man said. He was determined to do this, he said, referring to his own children, so as “not to shatter their lives”.

Born in a mother and baby home in the 1960s, he had such strong feelings about his past that he had not shared any of the details with his children, and he did not intend to do so.

Yet he had come before the confidential committee, set up by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, to tell his story to strangers.

In turn, they gave him a commitment that they would keep his identity secret. One member of the confidential committee and a note-taking researcher met with him, and every other witness.

They were not required to take the oath, and they were told their evidence would not be challenged. “We promise you will remain anonymous,” the witnesses were told, in a leaflet produced by the commission.

An anonymised report of what was said by the witnesses was filed by the committee to the commission, and it formed part of the commission’s overall report.

In its final report in January, the commission made clear that witnesses were asked for permission to have evidence recorded as an aide memoire for the researcher, and they were told that recordings would be destroyed later.

“All such recordings were destroyed,” according to the commission’s report. This, however, has since become the focus of strong criticism from some politicians and activist groups.

The man who said he intended to take his story to his grave told the committee he had met his birth mother for the first time when he was 45 years old, had only met her again three or four times thereafter, and had not seen her for years.

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