Preservation of Documents (Historical Institutions) Bill: Final Stage

Part of Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 5:30 pm on 24 March 2022.

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Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance 5:30, 24 March 2022

I am delighted to speak on the Final Stage of the Bill. I congratulate the Bill sponsor on getting it through so quickly. I thank you, Mr Speaker, and the staff of the Speaker's Office for facilitating it.

Six years ago, Birth Mothers and their Children for Justice came to my office on University Street, and what they told me that day brought me to tears. I remember the words of Eunan Duffy, whom people will know as a fierce campaigner on the issue. He said to me, "Paula, we have knocked on a lot of doors, and we are now drowning in tea and sympathy". I am so delighted that Department of Health officials have worked with him and others over the years to get to the point at which we commissioned research. I pay tribute to Sean O'Connell from Queen's University for his sterling work, to the truth recovery design panel, which worked with Birth Mothers and to the truth recovery NI group.

This is an important Bill, but it is only the start of the journey towards delivering the recommendations in the truth recovery design panel's report. I look forward to, I hope, getting re-elected, and we can come back on the far side and push for redress, for the apology, for the inquiry and for everything else that is in the panel's report. We owe it to those people, and, as has been said today, many of them have passed away, and we have to get on with the work as soon as possible. It is a great day, and I thank the Minister, his officials and the Bill sponsor.

In closing, Mr Speaker, I wish you well for the future. We met each other years ago when I was a lowly community worker in south Belfast and you were an MLA for my constituency. I have always really enjoyed working with you, not least in recent months on the Business Committee. I wish you and your family all the best for the future.