From top: Minister Katherine Zappone with Pope Francis at Áras an Uachtaráin on Saturday; Historian Catherine Corless (right) joins Tuam Survivors, including Peter Mulryan, of the Tuam Survivors’ Network (third right), at a march through Tuam, County Galway on Sunday.
Yesterday, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone released the copy of a letter she gave to Pope Francis regarding the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and her hope that the Vatican will pay for the costs for the exhumation of the mass grave.
Via the Tuam Survivors’ Network
‘The publication of a letter, by Katherine Zappone, which she handed to the Pope is nothing more than a publicity stunt.
She writes in the preamble to that letter: I am the Minister responsible for the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. This is of course an absurd statement.
Ms Zappone is merely the Minister to which the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is to report. In a different country, such a Commission would be reporting to a Justice Minister.
What Minister Zappone has been responsible for more than two years, is a dishonest exercise in respect of the Tuam pit, which has prolonged the agony of survivors and those whose relatives may be buried there, by standing in the way of an exhumation.
In the course of her letter to the Pope, she attempts to maintain the myth that she with her Cabinet colleagues can decide the future of the mass grave at Tuam.
To be clear once more, the only office-holder with jurisdiction over the mass grave at Tuam is the local Coroner.
Where a Coroner fails to convene an Inquest, the Attorney General has under s24 of the Coroners Act 1961, the power indeed obligation, to appoint another Coroner to do so.
Neither the previous Attorney General Maire Whelan nor the current incumbent Seamus Woulfe, have fulfilled their obligations to do so.
Minister Zappone has sat in Cabinet with both and cannot be unaware of the position.
Yet in the warmest and driest summer for forty years in which an exhumation of the Tuam children could have been speedily accomplished, she has clung to a position which is both vile and dishonest.
She writes to the Pope expressing the hope that the ‘church’ should ‘contribute substantially’ to the cost of whatever option is decided by the government.
To repeat, government does not have the power to make such a decision. There is no option, other than to convene an Inquest and complete an exhumation.
Those responsible are the Bon Secours Order, not merely the largest private health provider in Ireland, but probably the world.
Can the Minister produce a single piece of correspondence between her or her office, written to the Bon Secours Order, since she became Minister, pointing out their obligations to them?
In all, her letter to the Pope smacks of a stunt, a desperate attempt by a Minister completely out of her depth, to try and regain a grain of personal and political credibility. It fails miserably.’
A statement from the Tuam Survivors’ Network