Tag Archives: Tuam Survivors Network

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

Meanwhile…

This morning.

Following a call last week by the Tuam Survivors’ Network, The Terms of Reference and timeline have been set for an examination of legal options regarding DNA sampling in connection with the former Mother and Baby Home at Tuam.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs KatherineZappone said:

“These issues will ultimately  be addressed within the bespoke legislation that is currently being scoped by my Department.

However, I am very sympathetic to the concerns of survivors that their ages and health profiles introduce an element of urgency.

Accordingly, I have asked Dr. Geoffrey Shannon to consider what may be possible within the current legislative  framework, with particular reference to:

The collection of biological samples for comparison purposes

The extent to which any relevant family rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights might apply; and how best to ensure that the rights of those who wish to give biological samples could be safeguarded in respect of sensitive personal data and informed consent.

Dr Shannon will consult with my officials in the course of his work and provide a report to me within  8 weeks.”

Terms set for examination of DNA options at Tuam Mother and Baby Home Minister Zappone sympathetic to request from survivors network (Department of Children)

Report into legal issues over Tuam DNA samples requested for eight weeks’ time (RTÉ)

Previously:  Tuam And DNA

Meanwhile…

The burial plot at the former mother and baby home at Bessborough in Cork has been examined by the Commission of Investigation into 18 such institutions.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said the probe at Bessborough involves “initial testing”.

She said she understood that the commission has examined the burial plot at Bessborough but has not conducted a geophysical examination of the site.

Burial plot at Bessborough Mother and Baby Home examined by Commission of Investigation (RTÉ)

Previously: Burials As Late As 1990

Parts of the 796 square ‘Stitched With Love’ covering for the Tuam mass grave

Free tomorrow?

At the site of the mass grave at Tuam, County Galway at 1.30pm

Breeda, of the Tuam Survivors’ Network, writes:

We have together with representatives of the 300+ women who crafted the amazing #796 square ‘stitched with Love’ blanket, arranged a Healing Ceremony for the site to take place at 1.30pm.

Artist Barbara O’Meara of Dublin explored the idea of having many hands make light work of the 796 individual white square pieces, knitted and crotchet, to construct a covering for the Tuam site.

Families and survivors will take the blanket – which is now in four pieces representing the four provinces from where the women, mothers of the children came, and it will placed on the ground where the remains were discovered while a healing ceremony will follow…

Stitched With Love

Tuam Survivors’ Network

Meanwhile…

Events in TUam, County Galway tomorrow to mark Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day (Tuam Survivors’ Network)

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

Tuam Survivors’ Network

Revealed: What Katherine Zappone said in letter to Pope Francis on Tuam scandal (Kevin Doyle, Independent.ie)

Yesterday: ‘Her Department Knew About Infant Mortality, Concerns About Illegal Adoptions And Trafficking In 2012’