The destruction of audio recordings of testimony given by people to the investigation committee into Mother and Baby Homes, was raised in the Dáil by Independent Galway West TD Catherine Connolly.
Dep Connolly said she has been contacted by "hundreds of people", including by those who went forward and gave evidence to the Confidential Committee of the Commission of Investigation. "They trusted that the system would adequately record and keep a copy of their testimony," she said. "There is outrage and disbelief that evidence could be destroyed in this manner."
She pointed out that there was "a clear conflict" between what the commission said in its report, namely that there was a clear understanding that the recordings would be destroyed, and reports from those who went before the commission, who have confirmed that at no stage were they informed that such audio recordings would be destroyed.
"Significantly, said Dep Connolly, none of the information leaflets on the processes of the Commission contained any reference to the destruction of the material."
She also pointed to Section 31 of the Commission of Investigations Act, 2004, which calls for the preservation of all documents and cites contravention of that as an offence, while Section 43 of the act provides that on the submission of the commission’s final report to the Minister, all documents created by, or for the commission, shall be deposited with the Minister.
The TD said that while she accepted the commission was independent, she said the raising of this issue "does not compromise that independence", and added, "In order to have confidence in the integrity of the commission, it is crucial that questions surrounding the basis on which the recordings were destroyed are answered in full."
Dep Connolly called on the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, to provide "urgent clarification" on this issue so "those affected" can have "trust in the system".