A mapping expert with Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSi) says he believes a children’s burial ground associated with a mother and baby home in Cork is located on land now earmarked for apartments.
John Clarkin, who has worked with OSi for more than 46 years, and who has been an expert witness on boundary matters for over 30 years, made his comment during a detailed assessment of historic maps which were at the centre of the second day of An Bórd Pleanála’s oral hearing into plans for 179 apartments on a privately-owned site on the former Bessborough estate in Cork.
Part of the development site overlaps an area marked on historic maps as ‘children’s burial ground’.
From top: the former Mother and Baby Home at Bessborough, Cork; Professor Phil Scraton, whose report on the Irish coroner system was published yesterday by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties
“It is a remarkable coincidence that the submission that we made on the Mother and Baby Homes, the Magdalenes, two weeks ago coincides with the launch of this report [see below]. It’s quite difficult for me some days to disentangle the work I’m doing on both.
“But I do believe, very, very strongly that we have to listen to families in terms of the issue of dis-internment and re-internment. If this is a matter of simply dis-interning to re-intern then we are missing the most significant issue.
“The most significant issue for many families, certainly that I’ve spoken with, is that they want to actually have their story told. They want, if possible, through DNA, to be able to identify their loved one and they want an appropriate inquest in which at that inquest they can give evidence around the circumstances of death.
“When we think about what inquests are, they are there to establish how a person died. That means the circumstances of their death. This means that evidence, where it is at all possible, should be brought forward into an inquest of anyone who died in the Mother and Baby homes or as a consequence, they should be brought forward to an inquest into that death. And as far as is possible: the story told.
“Now not all families will want that and some will just simply want re-internment in appropriate burials sites. That is their choice. But I think that as a matter of real concern, this has to be done, for those cases where families wish that to happen.
“Now immediately the response is the coronial process in Ireland just couldn’t cope. Nor could it cope in the North either. I understand that. So that’s why one of the reasons we’re arguing for, in this particular case, specific coronial appointments to deal precisely with this issue.”
Phil Scraton, professor emeritus in the School of Law, Queen’s University.
Professor Scraton was speaking during a webinar yesterday on Death Investigation, Coroners’ Inquests and the Rights of the Bereaved, a report published by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and compiled by Professor Scraton – a key figure in the Hillsborough investigation, and Gillian McNaul, also of Queen’s University. The report looks at the Coroner system currently in place in Ireland.
A forensic archaeologist who has helped to recover the remains of ‘the Disappeared’ in the North has recommended a new search for human remains on the grounds of a former mother and baby home in Cork.
Aidan Harte, a senior team member with the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims Remains, was senior archaeologist for site investigations at Tuam and at Sean Ross Abbey on behalf of the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation.
He set out the approach for a new search of a 3.7-acre site on the former Bessborough estate during a Bord Pleanála online oral hearing yesterday into plans for 179 apartments on the sit
He suggested the deployment of ground-penetrating radar at specific locations on the site
If human remains are found, the excavation work should cease, the coroner and gardaí notified, and the site secured, he said.