There will be an exhumation and a forensic examination of remains at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway but no inquests to discover the causes of death.
Actions to be taken will include:
A phased approach to the forensic excavation and recovery of the juvenile human remains in so far as this is possible;
The use of systematic on-site ground-truthing and test excavations to effectively locate potential burials;
The forensic analysis of any recovered remains and, where possible, individualisation and identification, and arrangements for respectful reburial and memorialisation and the appropriate conservation of the site.
Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD
The Tuam Babies’ Family Group said:
‘This is an exceptionally important decision and will pave the way for all the other mother and baby homes, and the lost children of Ireland.
We want all of the children found, if they are not in the grave, where are they? All of the children must be found and we would like to see a full excavation of the entire site as we believe there are many graves in the area, not just at the site we have all come to know.”
Kevin Higgins, a legal advisor to the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network, said:
“The set piece orchestrated today by Katherine Zappone announcing an excavation of the Tuam grave is possibly one of the most cynical and callous acts ever carried out by an Irish Government.
Having maintained for almost two years that Government would make the ‘final decision’ on the Tuam grave -she has repeatedly rebuffed the plain truth that Government did not have the power to make that decision.
Last evening [Monday] Leo Varadkar was asked several times by a representative of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network – what powers Government had to make such a decision and whether they had advice from the Attorney General, that they had such power.
In response he filibusterd and failed to give a direct answer.
Today in her Statement, Minister Zappone explicity acknowledges that it will require new legilsation to allow the Government excavate the site.
For two years the Coroner for North Galway has sat on his hands and declined to convene an inquest into the deaths of 800 children who have no known burial place except a cess-pit.
Two successive Attorneys General have declined to appoint another Coroner on foot of his failure to carry out his statutory duty to convene an Inquest.
Today the Government announces its intention to introduce legislation, effectively giving it the power to by-pass the law in respect of Inquests.
The only purpose of an Inquest is to determine the cause of death.
Neither Government or the Bon Secours Order are disposed to public knowledge of how those children died.
Denied any justice in life, Government now proposes to deny them any justice in death.
What is proposed is an excavation, reburial and as a gesture an attempt at identification for the benefit of survivor families.
A ‘dignified reburial’ means giving the residents of the Dublin Road Estate in Tuam, back the full run of their playground.
There will be no blame, no liability, no accountability, no vindication for the Tuam babies.
In tandem with today’s announcement, the biggest global owners of private hospitals, the Bon Secors nuns, have offered a ‘voluntary contribution’ of €2.5 million towards the cost of excavation.
They must consider it very good value.”
Tuam Home Survivors Network
From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly
In the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions.
When posing a question to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about a change in the application process for women who formerly worked in Magdalene laundries seeking compensation and Caranua, Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly referred to the pending decision of the Government on the Tuam Mother and Baby Home site.
“I sincerely hope that your decision will be for a full excavation, a full exhumation of the site with a view to maximum information being available.”
In regards to Tuam, Mr Varadkar said:
“In relation to the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, Minister [Katherine] Zappone will make a statement about that at 3pm and I think it’s fair to say that she’s put an enormous amount of work into studying this matter over the last two years.
“The Cabinet accepted her recommendations today and I’d like to give her the opportunity to outline them in detail at 3pm when she’s able to do so.”
Related: Magdalene laundries victims fear officials want to limit compensation (Ellen Coyne, Times Ireland edition)
Earlier: ‘The Taoiseach Reflected The Need To Respond Now With Action, Rather Than Words’
Yesterday: ‘The Only Acceptable Outcome Is The Immediate Convening Of An Inquest Into The Deaths Of All The Children’