Dr Michael Woods was appointed Minister for Education and Science on 27th January 2000, at which stage the Taoiseach had issued his apology and the decision had been taken to establish the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. During his time as Minister for Education and Science, Dr Woods was responsible for bringing proposals to Government regarding the Redress Scheme, subsequently the Act of 2002 and the indemnity agreement with the Religious Congregations.
Dr Woods gave evidence at the Emergence hearings, where he noted that Mr Boland had dealt comprehensively with the Redress Scheme in his evidence but commented briefly on the matter himself. He told the Investigation Committee that the more he became involved in the process following his appointment as Minister for Education and Science, the more he became ‘acutely aware of the issues and the problems which were faced by the victims’. Dr Woods said ‘that the early establishment of the scheme was seen as (a) greatly reducing the stress of survivors of abuse and, (b) it was to facilitate the progress of the Commission’. He said that the involvement of the Congregations was seen by the State as a desirable policy objective but stressed: as far as the State was concerned it was very firm in its decision that the State was going ahead in any event with the Redress Scheme. That it was the right way to go.