Tag Archives: Mother and Baby Home

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone and former UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff

“I have previously relayed my commitment to the House to inviting the UN special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Mr. Pablo de Greiff, to come to Ireland.

I believe he can assist us in our endeavours to establish the truth and advise us on how best to move forward and deal with this part of our history.

Arrangements are at an advanced stage and I expect an invitation to be issued to Mr. de Greiff in the coming days.”

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, February 13, 2019.

This afternoon…

Via The Coalition of Mother And Baby home Survivors (CMABS):

An Administrative Officer in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has flatly contradicted statements made by Minister Katherine Zappone in the Dáil that arrangements to invite the UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence to Ireland, were at an “advanced stage” and later that she was “… working with my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to arrange this invitation.”

In response to a Freedom of Information request, Liam Doolan of the Mother and Baby homes investigation, replied that:

“…no communication was made between the actors listed [Katherine Zappone and the Dept of CYA] and Mr. Pablo de Greiff”.

Doolan’s letter completely undermines the clear statement that Minister Zappone made in the Dáil on February 13,  2018

The Freedom of Information request also revealed that no invitation was ever issued to Pablo de Greiff despite Minister Zappone making repeated references to such an invitation for several months from as early as the beginning of June 2017 until as late as February 13, 2018. On 24.Jan.2018, Minister Zappone in a written answer in the Dáil informed Denise Mitchell TD that:

“…In addition, the Government has agreed to invite Mr. Pablo de Greiff, UN Special Rapporteur, to assist Ireland in our response to issues related to former Mother and Baby homes and I am working with my colleague the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to arrange this invitation”

Previously: Missing A ‘Defining Moment’

Earlier: DNA Tests And Tuam [Updated]

This afternoon.

Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Mother and baby Home survivor Sheila O’Byrne, from Irish First Mothers outside the Dáil. Sheila says Mother and Baby Home survivors are seeking a national memorial as well as justice and payment owed due to the amount of work they carried out while being kept in homes around Ireland.

Sam Boal/Rollingnews


This afternoon.

Dublin Castle.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar  the ‘Church State Structured Dialogue Process’ to discuss “issues of shared importance”. between the government and religious institutions.

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

From top: Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone yesterday: tributes to the Tuam babies at the Stand4Truth solidarity march for victims of clerical abuse coinciding with Pope Francis’ Mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park last Summer.

The Fifth Interim Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes was published yesterday detailing burial arrangements at a number of Mother and Baby homes including Tuam.

The report can be read in full here.

Peter Mulryan of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network replies:

‘It is impossible to say what was in the mind of the last Bon Secours nun who closed the doors of the Grove private hospital Tuam in 2001, but it was certainly the end of an era.

The Bon Secours’ role in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home may have ended when it was closed suddenly in 1961, but it was forty years later, that they left behind the evidence of perhaps the most monumental and ugliest crime in the history of the State.

The Bon Secours had left the scene of the crime.

They left behind them the bodies of some eight hundred children and a number of unfortunate women in what was, or had been a cess-pit, however described.

They removed their own dead from the grounds of the Grove with great reverence and re-interred them with dignity at another of their properties. But they did not leave empty-handed.

They sold the Grove, complete with Convent, chapel and the outmoded hospital building, already decaying, for the absurdly inflated sum of €4.1 million. It was a handsome going away present.

The report yesterday provides little new to those intimately concerned with the Tuam Home.

It does however confirm:

That the bodies of children dying in the Tuam Home were placed in what was or had been a cess-pit, however described.

That this was at very least done under the direction of the Bon Secours nuns.

That under the law this was not merely illegal, it was an act of criminality.

That the statutory authority which owned the building throughout the history of the Home were aware of this practice and complicit in it.

In respect of Chapter 8 of the Report which deals specifically with the Tuam institution and particularly at 8.12 and 8.13, the Commission’s Report, appears to us to come up short.

It is a matter of fact and record that what are described as Records compiled in the Tuam Children’s Home were little more than a Roll of those women and children confined there, with some sparse personal details recorded.

These ‘records’ became more formalised on foot of the requirements of the Registration of Maternity Homes Act 1934 – but the half-yearly Returns – from the ‘Home Registers’, essentially had only one purpose, to calculate the ‘headage’ payable to the Bon Secours Order.

Some may prefer the term ‘capitation fee’, but in the context of the treatment of those women and children, the former seems more appropriate.

These ‘records’ indeed were handed handed over to the State at the closure of the ‘Home’ in 1961.

It is a matter of record and fact that very substantial documentation passed from the Bon Seours Order to the State in 2012. It followed protracted legal negotiations which inevitably included the Office of the Attorney General

That documentation constitutes the records of the Bon Secours in their child-trafficking and adoption racketeering as well as effectively extorting or obtaining money from women who had left the ‘Home’, for the upkeep of children already registered by the State as deceased.

To be fair to the Commissioners, they only learned of the existence of these ‘records’ through the Irish Examiner newspaper edition of June 2nd 2015.

From our own direct dealings with Tusla, it is our clear understanding that some of these records had not been provided/or disclosed to the Commission as late as July 2017. Only the Commission can clarify what assistance it received thereafter.

We cannot on the evidence therefore accept the assertion by the Commission at paragraph 19 of its Introduction to the Report where it states:

There are instances of deaths noted in the Tuam Children’s Home records which are not on the register of deaths. The number of such discrepancies is very small and may yet be resolved. In the Commission’s view, there is very little basis for the theory that the children concerned did not die but were “sold” to America.

Children from Tuam were adopted to America (as were children from nearly all the institutions under investigation). These adoptions are generally recorded in the Tuam records. It is not obvious why subterfuges would be required to arrange such adoptions.

When we consider the unwillingness of the Commission elsewhere in its Report, to draw the most reasonable inferences from compelling evidence, its view, in this instance is surprising.

Where it says that ‘these adoptions are generally recorded in the Tuam records’, leaves us in some confusion and we believe that the Commission is obliged to identify the nature of those records.

In any case, there is no certainty that all the children registered as dead, did in fact die at the time their deaths were registered. We do not concur with the Commission’s view on this matter.

We believe that paragraph 8.21 dealing with Tuam speaks for itself but the Commission can come to no conclusion or in this instance or even express a view.

Paragraph 8.43 deals with two aerial photographs dating from 1974 and 1977 in which the area now identified as a mass grave is successively described as being covered with vegetation and ‘overgrowth’.

What is clearly visible, is in fact a plantation of young trees created by Galway County Council after the closure of the ‘Home’, consciously and deliberately on the area which it knew contained a mass grave(s), both inside and outside the area now known as the Children’s Graveyard.

The portion outside the ‘Graveyard’ area being cleared of the trees in the 1977 photograph and indeed marked on the Council Planning file as a ‘burial ground’ This is beyond dispute.

Paragraphs 8.60 and 8.63 contain detail which is particularly troubling and upsetting because they provide quite compelling evidence of matters which have been a cause of great concern for some time.

That is the likelihood that children of the Home were required or forced to place the bodies of dead children in the chambers of a sewerage tank.

It becomes clearer with each passing day that the full horror of Tuam is not yet exposed.

We note in passing that members of the Tuam Home Survivors’ Network have faced criticism because we insist that there can be no closure in the Tuam story without establishing the cause of death of the Tuam victims.

The Commission says it will deal with the ’causes of death’ in a 2020 Report. The causes of death of the the Tuam Children can only be established by an Inquest.

Nothing else is acceptable or possible in law. We will not add our names to those who have betrayed the dead children of Tuam.’

Tuam Survivors’ Network

Yesterday: Mothers And Babies And Burials

Death in Tuam


Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone

This afternoon.

Minister for Children and Youth Affair Katherine Zappone has announced a series of measures in response to a report of the Collaborative Forum for Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes and Related Institutions.

These will include much sought-after amendments to the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill.

Via The Department of Children Affairs:

The Minister has secured Government approval to amend provisions of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill to provide for the greatest possible release of birth information to adopted persons and to other relevant persons, consistent with the legal and constitutional framework.

Amendments to the provisions of the Bill dealing with the privacy of birth parents are currently being drafted which will seek to remove the requirement for an undertaking to be signed by the person seeking their birth information.

The Minister also intends to bring forward amendments at Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann to provide a copy of the birth cert, where this is available on the files in State custody, to an applicant.

The Minister will develop a series of measures including the establishment of a scheme to fund permanent memorials in the locality of mother and baby institutions, provision of financial support to survivor-led groups for annual commemoration events, and a working group to develop a national memorial that commemorates, respects and honours mothers and children held in these Institutions.

A living memorial in digital, audio or visual presentation of information and individual narratives, will be developed to serve to support the historic preservation of this long episode in our country‘s history.

Language and terminology is important, and the Forum recommended the establishment of an expert group which would help replace the often derogatory labels which stigmatised those affected. The Minister will consult the Irish Research Council on how best to put together an appropriate research group for this purpose.

Previously: Betrayed Again

Thanks Bebe

The Fifth Interim report of Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) will be published ” as soon as possible’ said Minister for Children Katherine Zappone.

Ms Zappone told Catherine Connolly TD that ‘Subject to advice and approval it is my intention to publish the report prior to Easter’

Separately, in a written reply this week to Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, Ms Zappone also said the report includes burial arrangements “in circumstances where the [children’s] remains were initially transferred to educational institutions for anatomical examination”.

Ms Zappone stated:

It is a substantial report which focuses on the burial arrangements of persons who died while resident in these institutions.

The report includes extensive technical reports prepared in the course of the Commission’s investigations into the burial site associated with the institution formerly known as the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and the Commission’s assessment of burial arrangements in respect of a number of other institutions within its remit.

It also reports on burial arrangements in circumstances where the remains were initially transferred to educational institutions for anatomical examination.

I intend to seek formal Government approval to publish the report after I have the opportunity to discuss the report with the Commission and consult the Attorney General as appropriate. I will seek to conclude these considerations as soon as possible.

The dignity and memory of those who died in these institutions is central to my approach to these matters. I am mindful of the expectations of their families for an early publication date of the report.

My Department will advise representative groups, and those who have been in contact with the department on these matters, of developments prior to the publication of the report.

Given the importance and sensitivity of these matters, I do not propose to comment further on the contents of the report in advance of it being made public.

Previously: Tuam and DNA

This morning

Alison O’Reilly, the journalist who broke the Tuam mass grave story, reports in today’s Irish Daily Mail, that excavation has begun at the grounds of Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, County Tipperary which was a mother and baby home run by the Sacred Heart Sisters from 1930 to 1970.

It follows a geophysical survey carried out last month out at the Abbey’s ‘Angels’ Plot’ children’s burial ground on behalf of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.

Last week: Meanwhile, In Tipperary.


Infant death rates at the Bessborough mother-and-baby home in Cork soared to almost 70% in the early 1940s.

The revelations come just two months after the Government announced a statutory commission to investigate practices, deaths, illegal adoptions and vaccine trials at the country’s mother-and-baby homes.

Previous research done by adoption campaigners indicated a death rate of around 50% and above at Bessborough throughout the late 1930s and 1940s.

However, material uncovered by the Irish Examiner in the Cork City archives shows an official investigation carried out by the Cork County Medical Officer in 1943, on foot of inquiries from a Department of Local Government inspector, confirmed a death rate of 68% at the home.

68% of babies in Bessborough home died (Conall Ó Fátharta, Irish Examiner)

Previously: The Art Of Storytelling

In The Garden

Meanwhile, Outside Bessborough

“Ireland And The Catholic Church Have Been Unfairly Singled Out”

Anything Good On BBC News At Ten?

Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland