From top: Taoiseach leo Varadkar and Minister for Children Katherine Zappone; The site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone will meet with a representative of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network in Government Buildings.
Ahead of this meeting, the network writes:
Birth and death certificates for the former Tuam Home number 1,101 births, within the home, and 796 deaths, within the home. Of those recorded as dying within the home, slightly in excess of 79% failed to reach the age of one year.
The graveyard records of Galway County Council disclose burial places for just two of those children. Despite the previous knowledge of both Galway County Council and the Bon Secours Order, the presence of large numbers of infant remains was finally confirmed by an exploratory dig at the Tuam site in October 2016.
It further confirmed that the resting place of those remains had, for some decades, served as repository for sewerage.
That partial excavation confirmed what was already reasonably believed – that a large number at least of the children who had died as inmates of the home, for whom no burial records exist, lie with the remains of that sewerage system.
In a functioning civil society, the local coroner would have convened an inquest without delay into such a mass grave of children who had been jointly in the care of the State and the Bon Secours Order.
Two years after the discovery of those remains, the local Coroner has failed in his statutory duty and two Attorneys General have failed to nominate a replacement coroner, which in all the circumstances, they are clearly obliged to do under section 24 of the Coroners Act.
Instead the children of Tuam and their families have been subjected to another two years of obfuscation and deceit.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs continues to hold the position that Government has the power to decide the future of the Tuam site.
If either she or Government has, at any time, received advice from the office of the Attorney General that Government has such powers, they should publish that advice now.
The Tuam Home Survivors Network does not believe that any such advice exists, but if it does, it is clearly very bad advice.
The only acceptable outcome in the matter of the Tuam mass grave is the immediate convening of an inquest into the deaths of all the children recorded as dying within it, for whom no burial record exists.
This requires a complete forensic exhumation, together with use of all resources required, to complete the most extensive DNA database possible and post-mortems to determine, wherever possible, the cause of each death.
The removal of the children of Tuam from one mass grave to a different mass grave is unacceptable and any attempt to impose anything so disrespectful will be resisted by all lawful means.
Thanks Kevin Higgins