"There was a determination to shoehorn the panel into the department's agenda and to sign off forthwith on a planned government publicity campaign inviting public participation in the collaborative forum. This was an ill-advised move given the seriousness of our work," Dunne said.

"The combination of falsely constructed minutes and a hollow sham consensus rendered my further participation impossible and I resigned at the minutes stage of the meeting."

Dunne said he has written to the remaining five members of the selection panel asking them to consider their positions. They are Patricia Lundy, an Ulster University sociology professor; James Gallen, a law and government lecturer at Dublin City University; Mari Steed of Adoption Rights Alliance; Clodagh Malone of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors; and Teresa Blake of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

"I'd be advising mothers to stay away from the collaborative forum based on what Fintan has told me, and on feedback I have got from the department," said Kathy McMahon, the founder of IFM, an online organisation with more than 70 members.

"It is happening too quickly and feels like we're being railroaded into something. I don't think we should be so eager to have our voices heard that we are prepared to take part in a sham process."

McMahon said her organisation will not nominate anyone else to take Dunne's place on the panel.

A spokeswoman for Zappone's department said: "While this is a disappointing development, the minister respects and accepts Mr Dunne's decision. The independent selection panel remains committed to this important work and will shortly confirm details of how interested parties can register their expression of interest in participating in this new forum."

The deadline for applications from the public for membership of the collaborative forum is April 26. Zappone is expected to get cabinet approval for the body in early May.

The forum's establishment was announced following publication in December of the third report by the commission of investigation into 14 mother-and-baby homes and four county homes.


FULL TEXT OF FINTAN DUNNE'S RESIGNATION

I have this afternoon, 4th April, 2018 resigned from Minister Zappone's Selection Panel for Mother and Baby Home issues, due to the suppression by her Department of the views of Professor Patricia Lundy, who is also a member of the panel.

Professor Lundy was -as expected- absent from the panel meeting today due to other commitments, and I had assured her that I would present and reaffirm her perspectives on proceedings in her absence.

To my shock I found today at our second meeting that those views, which she articulated at the first meeting of the panel had been excised from the official minutes of proceedings.

She had expressed a firm view that the Department was being overly prescriptive in setting the agenda and schedule of the panel and thus restricting the members ability to guide the process. I had been in strong agreement.

I challenged the Chair, Mr. James Halley over what seemed a deliberate omission, calling it a serious breach of trust. He offered neither explanation, apology or remedy.

To compound the problems, I also challenged the Chair's refusal to permit discussion of related problems about the manner in which the work of the panel was being steered into trivialities and away from uncomfortable perspectives.

The panel had purported itself to be a consensual structure where members would have the right to their perspectives and Mr. Halley would resolve differences to achieve a consensus. But my views and my reaffirmation of Professor Lundy's views in absentia were denied any hearing. Again, I was offered neither explanation, apology or remedy.

Instead there was a determination to shoehorn the panel into the Department's agenda and to sign off forthwith on a planned Government publicity campaign inviting public participation in the forthcoming Collaborative Forum. An ill-advised move given the seriousness of our work.

The combination of falsely constructed minutes and a hollow sham consensus rendered my further participation impossible and I resigned at the minutes stage of the meeting.

The 6 members appointed to the panel were:

Ms Teresa Blake SC Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
Dr James Gallen Dublin City University
Prof Patricia Lundy Ulster University
Ms Clodagh Malone Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors
Ms Mari Steed Adoption Rights Alliance (based in USA)
Mr Fintan Dunne Irish First Mothers

It was the presence of respected legal and academic figures listed above, and the promise of a consensual process which gave me confidence to enter in good faith into the work of the panel.

I also stepped down from operational aspects of Irish First Mothers as a signal to potential applicants to the Collaborative Forum that I would act in a non-partisan fashion.

But there is little point in the Department inviting respected figures to participate and proffering to be consensual, if there is no such intent.

I have written to the remaining members of the panel asking them to consider if by their continuing presence on the panel they would be misleading the public and sanctioning acts and would betray the interests of the mothers who were abusively sequestered in these State-sanctioned institutions.

This is not the first instance of government suppression of views. Mr. Jerry Buttimer as Chair omitted evidence by First Mothers to the Health Committee when reporting to the Seanad on Dail scrutiny of the Adoption Information Tracing Bill.

I will again take up a full role in Irish First Mothers and the group will recommence taking evidence from mothers in pursuit of our Genocide Claim served on the Attorney General in respect of their treatment at the hands of Church and State. That work of taking testimonies had been suspended in the interests of giving an opportunity to the Minister's initiative.

Fintan Dunne

fintan@fintandunne.com
Phone:
+353899676041 WhatsApp
+353877805681

 


https://youtu.be/XFHzvJ6GKbA

Kathy McMahon
Founder: Irish First Mothers

Ph: +353862106116
http://bit.ly/FirstMothersBlog
http://bit.ly/FirstMothersTwitter
http://bit.ly/VoiceForIrishFirstMothers
http://IrishFirstMothers.com