Exhumation But No Inquests

at | 34 Replies

This afternoon.

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

Earlier….

From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Galway Independent TD Catherine Connolly

This afternoon.

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.

She said:

“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’

34 thoughts on “Exhumation But No Inquests

  1. Dub Spot

    Surely the “forensic analysis of any recovered remains” will lead to the same conclusions as an inquest though with different legal status?

    Reply
    1. bisted

      …that’s what I thought as well…either way, Zapper and Co. seem to have run out of road to kick this can down…well done everybody concerned…

      Reply
    2. Steph Pinker

      Dub Spot, Forensic Archaeology – and of human bone in particular, can establish skeletal variations, the chemical analysis of human bone, DNA, and injuries and diseases of the remains excavated. In short, if this excavation is performed in an exact and professional manner, it could very well provide us with answers as to how the babies died and the causes which contributed to their deaths.

      I’d like to think that this excavation will provide more scientific information than that of an inquest, although, depending on what’s discovered, and the circumstances surrounding the deaths, it might lead to an inquest? Which, IMO, would be the only positive aspect to emerge from such a sad chapter in our history.

      Reply
      1. Cian

        We know how they died. There were death certs issued for all the babies which show the cause of death.

        More importantly, with DNA we can find out who the daddies were.
        That would be interesting!

        Reply
        1. Mickey Twopints

          No. We know what was *recorded* as the cause of death for *some* of them.

          More importantly??

          You really are some piece of work. What do you see in the mirror? Do you have any friends in real life?

          Reply
        2. Steph Pinker

          Hi Cian, there may well have been death certs issued in each case, but who established the cause of death? The nuns? There is context here which shouldn’t be ignored, in fact, context is very important regarding the exhumation of any human remains, and, coupled with the science of Forensic Archaeology it can establish how an individual died and why – especially if a pattern emerges as a result of an excavation.

          Regarding the DNA of the remains, I really hope that family members are willing to come forward and proffer their assistance and collaboration in such a devastating, personal – not to mention secretive – aspect of their familial history. The thing is, there may be many people alive in Ireland and abroad who are genetically linked to some of the human remains in Tuam; maybe they’re better off not knowing? I don’t know the answer to that, but for those who do, even though it will take a lot of understanding and forgiveness, some may appreciate the definitive, but harsh reality of what happened to a blood relative – I know, I would.

          Reply
          1. Cian

            I don’t know the powers of Forensic Archaeology. Anyone here know the capabilities?

            I would think that there is a huge difference between:
            – a Bosnian mass grave – which would have been filled in a single incident – with people (adults?) that were killed violently. And buried together and exhumed within ten years. If 22 of 24 had gunshot wounds – you could presume the other 2 were shot too.
            versus
            – The Tuam mass grave – which was filled over 35 years – with 0-1 year olds that died “peacefully” (I’m assuming they weren’t violent deaths). And buried over the 40 years and exhumed 55-90 years later. You can’t make any assumptions about any one baby based on the others nearby. The bodies could be cross-contaminated with things like measles/TB.

            but what would I know? Perhaps I should watch more CSI…

          2. Steph Pinker

            Dub Spot: thanks for that link, I’ll read it tomorrow.

            Cian: your opening and closing statements of your last comment are an indication of your flippant and ignorant attitude towards the discipline of Forensic Archaeology and the professionals who practice it.

            Count yourself lucky you’ve never had a missing family member/ friend whose remains have warranted identification through DNA analysis so their body could be returned to their family – sometimes years after their death. Usually, you present yourself as such an objective civil servant-type who’s au fait with statistics and nothing else; well, now you’ve shown yourself to be the disdainful, intolerant, insensitive person you actually are.

            BTW, the only one making passive-aggressive assumptions about any aspect of such serious topics, is you.

          3. Cian

            They weren’t meant as flippant. I’m not au fait with the limits. But I suspect that many people think or hope that these experts will provide answers.
            And I suspect they will be sadly mistaken.

        3. Jupiter

          Is this a criminal investigation ? The team that exhumed the mass graves in Bosnia are being used. Just thinking about it in those terms brings the reality of this home.

          Reply
          1. Steph Pinker

            Jupiter, I’ve no idea of the legal ramifications of this excavation; providing it’s fulfilled and executed in a correct and professional manner I hope the beauty of science and understanding can unearth in a sensitive manner the circumstances of the deaths of the Tuam babies.

            In my ignorant opinion regarding the criminal and legal aspects* regarding the potential outcome of the excavation, there will have to be an inquest of some description, no matter how it’s spun from any political point of view.

            * Maybe The Old Boy can advise or offer an informed opinion?

          2. Jupiter

            Steph,exhuming the bodies of hundreds of children it’s a dark day for this country. I hope it brings closure for the families involved. The perpetrators are long gone and all that is left behind is broken hearts and broken bones the legacy of the chuch in many ways.

          3. Steph Pinker

            Well said, Jupiter. For some it’s classed as closure and they welcome it, for others it takes them on an entirely different journey which may not be as welcoming, yet, we all live our lives in different ways – that’s why it’s called living, I suppose.

  2. Jeffrey

    “she’s put an enormous amount of work into studying this matter over the last two years.”
    This country is a joke. The moment remains of 700+ bodies are found an inquest / exhumation should be taking place, its mind boggling.

    Reply
    1. Giggidygoo

      The enormous amount of work was put into trying to avoid it. Enlisting the likes of Terry Prone (the go-to)
      The work was done by Catherine Corless.
      Guaranteed that the action resulting from this decision isn’t as simple as Liar Leo indicates.

      Reply
        1. Cian

          True. But they were mostly recorded as the kind of things that babies died of in those days.

          Question: Do *you* think that the nuns were violent towards the babies? And murdered them?

          Reply
          1. Dub Spot

            Isn’t that what the survivor’s want to establish? Run along now and Reverend Mother will give you a gold star with oak leaves for doing your RE homework…

          2. CoderNerd

            There’s plenty of articles about this subject on this very site. I’d be surprised to find you hadn’t commented on those as well, so why are you asking these questions when you can look them up?

  3. Dusty Bannister

    Since when did the Dáil have to pass specific legislation for the garda to do what they should have been doing since this tragedy was first exposed?
    This place in any other country would be and would have been treated as a major crime scene from day one. They are now openly interfering in a criminal case.

    Reply

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