Tag Archives: Tuam

This morning.

Tuam, county Galway.

“This a wound for our nation to carry.”

Writer Michael Harding greets a group of German runners and cyclists – led by John McGurk (top in kilt with RTÉ’s Pat McGrath) – who arrived at the Tuam burial site after a six-day trek across six countries in memory of the 796 children who died at the Mother and Baby Home and whose remains are still interred.

On their way to Tuam, the group laid a wreath to remember those buried at a similar mass grave in St Mary’s, Lanarkshire, Scotland,

Greeting the group were families and survivors of lost children, campaigners – including Catherine Corless – and Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy.

Archbishop meets survivors at Tuam mother-and-baby home gathering (RTÉ)

Pics and video by Breeda Murphy.

From top: Tuam Burial ground in 2016; Attorney General Paul Gallagher (left) Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman; Kevin L Higgins

Having been kindly offered a platform by Broadsheet’s Bodger to provide a few words on the foul Burials Bill, aka as the Institutional Burials Bill 2022, it was reasonable to assume that he expected a forensic examination of the text of the Bill. This isn’t it, but the following represents my view of the matter.

The members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee in their consideration of the Bill did on the whole approach their task with a degree of empathy for the memory of the dead children and the feelings of their families. That said, the Minister’s Bill was an invitation to do a substantial job of virtue-signalling, which the text offered them. I do not gainsay the genuine decent feelings of Committee members. I do say they were suckered.

Nothing changes the glaring facts that the Minister did not have the Ministerial or Parliamentary jurisdiction to initiate the Bill and neither did the Committee have the jurisdiction to consider it.

I raised that issue with Mr Sean Sherlock TD, who chaired the Session of the Committee which I addressed. I did so for the simple purpose of putting the issue on the record of the Oireachtas. Mr Sherlock as Chair assured me that he had satisfied himself that the Committee did have the power to deliberate on the Bill. He did not tell me if the Committee had received advice to that effect or from whom they might have done.

Prior to the sitting of the Committee I had written to the Chair of the Committee, Kathleen Funchion TD on this specific issue and despite further correspondence with the Committee, a year later, I still don’t know from whom they took advice as to their capacity to consider the Bill or if they sought any advice at all.

If they did as a Committee seek legal advice and acted on it, then I am content to say it was very bad advice and I don’t ultimately expect anyone to readily put up their hand to claim any such Advices as their own. Despite for the most part, but apparently not unanimous empathy or understanding of Committee Members, they did not seem to realise they had been been sold a pup.

The Minister’s subsequent agreement that any ‘obstruction’ to the relevant coroner exercising his jurisdiction be ‘removed’ would in other circumstances be almost funny. It does not appear to have occurred to the Committee that apart from the issue of the Minister having no right to meddle in the matter, that ‘obstruction’ would probably have seen the Bill in it’s entirety torn to shreds under judicial examination.

The third Attorney General to have a finger in this pie (Paul Gallagher) seems to have taken the view that leaving within the Bill, something so legally absurd and pursued by a Minister lacking in Parliamentary Jurisdiction (and apparently commonsense); that when an ‘outraged’ Committee removed it, the chorus of welcome would drown out any questions as to why the Coroner did not perform his duty when the remains of the Tuam Children were in part, unearthed in September 2016.

Not to mention why three Attorneys General [Marie Whelan, Seamus Woulfe and Paul Gallagher] have failed in their the clear obligation to invoke s24 of the Coroner’s Act 1962 to remove the Coroner for North Galway,who has sat on his hands for more than five years and appoint another Coroner to act.

The net result is that something which made the Bill an indisputable legislative excrescence and may have pulled it down in it’s entirety, has been removed. This does however leave in the body of the Bill, the mechanics to construct a clunking layer of administrative asbestos, with which to smother and hide the truth of Tuam and other mass graves. As a child I saw better three card tricks executed on half-day school holidays at Punchestown.

The bet, this Minister,, Government and Attorney General have placed on the current text with it’s unnecessary baggage, is that it will survive legal challenge and perform its intended role in burying for all time the grotesque truth of Tuam; but more importantly stifle the clear obligation rooted in law, to both investigate the deaths of so many children and avoid a finding in law as where responsibility for their deaths lies.

In short, this piece of legislation has never been necessary to complete the exhumation of Tuam and determine as far as possible by the use of advanced forensic techniques the causes of death of those children and to record verdicts of a Coroner’s Court as to the likely causes of death.

The existing law is not only adequate to perform this task, it is a legal imperative that it be used. The obfuscation and obstruction which has been the modus operandi of Government for the last number of years is beneath contempt. It amounts to something which libel lawyers may tell you, dare not speak it’s name and certainly not outside of legal proceedings.

In acknowledging that this piece may not correspond to what was suggested to me, I will indulge myself in referring to the words of Captain Gustave M. Gilbert the Army psychologist assigned to confer with the defendants at the Nuremberg trials. His access to individuals such as Herman Goering was quite unique. He would later write:

“In my work with the defendants (at the Nuremberg Trials 1945-1949) I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel (for and) with their fellow men (empathy). Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.”

I need to pause here and say that in my direct contacts with Minister O’Gorman I have found him a courteous and urbane individual, genuinely personally pleasant and when let off the leash by civil servants, generous in his readiness to engage.

But Irish ‘Greens’ it seems are not actual politicians in the usual sense. They are ethereal creatures amongst us, whose good intentions cannot be challenged. Of course, anything contained herein should not be characterised as amounting to any degree of particular animus. Rather in the style of Monty Python it should be regarded as applying to any purveyor of bullshit.

Pursuing this theme I am drawn to the dialogue scripted by the late Robert Bolt for David Lean’s majestic ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. The issue therein was one which impacts on all our lives to this day: the appropriation and/or acquisition by the ‘West’ of the natural resources that drive the capitalist economy.

The exchange in question is between politician/diplomat Mr Dryden (Claude Rains) and Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) ;

“A man who tells lies, like me, merely hides the truth. Whereas a man who tells half-lies has forgotten where he put it”

Kevin Higgins has contributed to Broadsheet previously on the issue of Mother and Baby Homes. He is a member of the Tuam Home Survivors Network and acted as Solicitor for Mr Peter Mulryan In the first High Court case, in respect of records for the ‘Home. Though retired he continues to be part of the campaign to achieve Justice for the dead children of all such Homes and contributed to the Joint Oireachtas Committee dealing with the issue.


This morning/afternoon.

Government Buildings, Dublin2.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman (above) received cabinet approval to publish the Institutional Burials Bill that will provide a ‘legal basis’ to allow recovery and identification of the children interred at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.

Survivor groups say a legal basis already exists with the lawful obligation of a coroner to perform an inquest into any death within their district.

The legislation will ‘allow the Government, by order, to direct an intervention at a site and to approve the appointment of a Director to oversee and manage a phased, step-by-step approach’ comprising:

Excavation of the site
Recovery of human remains
Post recovery analysis of remains to support, where possible, establishing circumstances and cause of death
Identification of remains through DNA familial matching
Return of remains to family members or respectful re-interment.


This afternoon.

Tuam, county Galway.

Minister O’Gorman publishes Institutional Burials Bill (Gov.ie)


 Archbishop-elect of Tuam Francis Duffy at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Tuam, Galway this morning

This morning/afternoon.

Tuam, county Galway.

Via The Irish Catholic:

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop-elect Francis Duffy to succeed the retiring Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary,…

The archbishop-elect was “surprised and humbled” by the announcement, he told the congregation gathered at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Tuam, Galway.

In his address, he added that for the Church to move forward, “we must listen to all who have been hurt by their experience of Church”, while paying testimony to the “vital role” of the clergy”.


Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin wished Dr Duffy “every blessing” in his new role, saying:

“He has already made significant contributions to the Bishops’ Conference in the fields of finance and administration, Catholic education, liturgy, pastoral renewal and adult faith development.

“With the help of God’s grace, and with the support and prayers of the faithful, he will now bring these gifts to the service of the Church in the West of Ireland.”

Bishop Francis Duffy appointed new archbishop of Tuam (irish Catholic)

Earlier: Still Buried

Pic via Chai Brady


Dail Eireann.

During leader’s questions, Catherine Connolly raised the much-delayed redress scheme for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes and asked, why, after four years, children’s remains are still interred at Tuam?

Deputy Connolly said:

“My question relates to the promised redress scheme. There is a different name on it, but there is not a sign of it. I ask this question in the context of the finite group of people who are waiting patiently for the Government’s action.

“Notwithstanding their courage and fortitude, former residents of mother and baby homes are becoming more anxious, worried and vulnerable with each passing day, not to mention angry. The Government has a duty to act expeditiously, particularly in view of the background to this matter and the delay to date.

“On 19 January last, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Deputy O’Gorman, said that the redress scheme would be drawn up by the end of April. An explanation was then given for the delay to the effect that there were many submissions.

“Again in July, we were told that the interdepartmental group had effectively completed its work. There was still no sign of its report, however. Then we were told it would be in the early part of the new term. We are now in the middle of the new term, and there is not a sign of the report.

“Will the Taoiseach tell me when details of the redress scheme will be published and accessible to those who are waiting, Uimhir a haon, and; No. 2, what communication has the Taoiseach had with the religious orders regarding their participation in the amount of money needed to fund the scheme?

“We have seen the report on television [‘The Missing Children on ITV] on Sunday night, to be broadcast on RTÉ [last night], in regard to Tuam, which is intimately connected with this question.

“More than four years ago,
an expert team went in and looked at it in response to the commission of investigation, which had a press release saying there were substantial human remains there.

“The expert team went in and one member is quoted in the documentary as saying: “I have never walked away from human remains in that context.”

“Their work was a scoping exercise to see what was there. They temporarily protected the site for six months and nothing has happened four years later.

“We are sitting here today after a series of mistakes and delays. A report from the commission that was in the Government’s offices from October last year was only published in January of this year and was never given to the former residents until afterwards, and so on. There is a whole list of other delays and obfuscations, not to mention the tapes and the press release saying they had been destroyed when, subsequently, it was found they had not been.

“I am conscious I am over time, but given that background, it is extremely important that the Taoiseach gives us a date today so we can have confidence and hope.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin responded:

“In the context of the restorative recognition scheme, I can say to the Deputy that the interdepartmental group set up to develop detailed proposals for the scheme, taking into account the recommendations of the commission and going beyond that, has made recommendations.

“It was informed by consultation with survivors which took place during March and April, with a very strong response received to that consultation process. The Minister then considered that further and made proposals. The development of the scheme is a key priority for us.

“The Minister [Roderick O’Gorman] will be bringing a scheme to Cabinet shortly and there are consultations with the leaders of the parties now, and with the other Ministers, and I expect that this will be brought before Cabinet fairly quickly now, within the next number of weeks, if not sooner.

“We are anxious to get the balance right and to devise and approve a scheme that would be responsive to the survivors of mother and baby homes and county homes. I accept the delay is one to be regretted but, nonetheless, since the decision was made by Government to develop such a scheme, the Minister has applied himself to this very diligently, has worked with the groups concerned and has interacted with Government Departments and with external bodies as well from a human rights perspective. We do understand the importance of this and it will come to Government very shortly.

“In regard to Tuam, as the Deputy knows, the Minister and I would view it as imperative to afford the children buried at Tuam the dignity in death that has so long been denied them.

“He did prioritise the drafting of the proposed Bill. It is a very complex piece of legislation. That said, it went for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Minister, Deputy O’Gorman, in January 2021. Numerous submissions were made to the joint Oireachtas committee and a number of people gave powerful and moving testimony.

“The committee published its report on the legislation in July. The Minister is now carefully considering the recommendations from that process. His intention, following that consultation, is to publish the Bill by the end of the current parliamentary session and bring it through the legislative process as quickly as possible. He is going to do that.”

Ms Connolly replied:

“While I welcome that the Taoiseach talked about it being in the next few weeks, I have heard that since January so I ask him to forgive my reluctance to believe that. On the scheme, we have had ample time to learn from previous schemes.

In the redress institutional scheme we created an offence such that if somebody disclosed what they got, they committed a criminal offence. Then we set up the Magdalen scheme and the Ombudsman told us there was maladministration. Then we set up Caranua, which was an insult to the Irish language because we talked about a new friend when it was the old enemy in disguise.

We go on perpetuating the abuse, delay and obfuscation
. I want an exact date for when the redress scheme will be published. I want the Taoiseach to answer me about Tuam and the archaeologists.

The specialist forensic archaeologists protected the site for just six months and four years later, that site is not protected. We know from the sterling work of Catherine Corless that there are 796 death certificates but we do not know if that number of children and babies are buried there.

We do not just need to excavate the site to rebury them, which is extremely important; we also need to excavate to examine. It is time we grew up in this country and analysed and examined what happened so that we can look and learn from it.”

Taoiseach Martin said:

“The legislation was published and it went through pre-legislative scrutiny. It is intended to complement the Coroners Act 1962, in that it does not seek to undermine the authority of the coroner and prevent or prejudice any coronial investigation into what happened at Tuam. The Minister has acted assertively and proactively on the Tuam site with legislation.

“To be fair, what is envisaged is somewhat unprecedented but he is going ahead and doing it. Likewise, in respect of the birth information and tracing legislation, this is the first Government to produce such radical legislation in terms of access to information without hindrance and that no one can prevent.

“No one person can prevent access to any information sought and that would mean an awful lot to an awful lot of people out there. It has been in pre-legislative scrutiny in the Oireachtas for a fairly lengthy period and the Oireachtas joint committee is meeting people and so on. That is important legislation.

“On the Government’s intervention by way of the restorative recognition scheme, that will be before Cabinet within a matter of weeks. We were not hearing that all year because we could not. That was because the interdepartmental group had to deliberate on it for quite some time, which it has done and the scheme has come to Government. There are serious issues that have to be addressed by the Government in respect of the scheme. We will do so and the scheme will be back in the House.”

TD questions why mass grave of 796 babies at Tuam has still not been excavated four years after it was revealed (Independent.ie)


…Michael Kiernan writes:

That site is a crime scene and should have being excavated Immediately when It was discovered. Four years and still those bodies have not be properly laid to rest and investigated. Catherine has great patience to have to listen to this garbage day in and day out. I can see a day very soon where a Government like our current one, no longer exists and that people like Catherine will be leading us into a better future. The way it is now is a hellish existence…

Yesterday evening.

Tuam, county Galway.

Catholic activists Eugene Jordan and Brian Nugent applaud the findings of the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation while standing on a burial ground at the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home, where the remains of 796 dead babies and children were left in a sewage tank underneath and still await exhumation.


Thanks Breeda

From top: Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman; a meeting with Tuam survivor group cancelled

Lawyer and Tuam activist Kevin Higgins writes:

Former Minister for Children Zappone and current Minister for Children  O’Gorman will need to clarify in what capacity members of his Department attended Her Ladyship’s drink party when his office had cancelled – late in the evening just 48 hours earlier – meetings with survivor groups in Tuam (having sought them at short notice to begin with) and yet some of those expected at Tuam – and supposedly quarantining following an alleged outbreak of covid in the office – turned up at Katherine’s Party….

Eamon Ryan’s chief-of-staff and Department of Children secretary general both attended Katherine Zappone’s controversial party (Independent.ie)

Earlier: Merrion In Haste, Repent At Leisure


From top: the former Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork; A map indicicating a children’s burial ground on the grounds of the former institution; Professor Clair Wills

What about Bessborough?

Ireland-born, Cambridge-based. English Professor Clair Wills, in a 10,000-word review of the Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation report for the current issue of London Review of Books, writes:

….the home with the worst infant mortality rate was Bessborough in Cork, where over the twenty years between 1934 and 1953 ‘in the region of 25 per cent’ of babies died – five times the rate for Ireland in 1950. In 1944 the newly appointed chief medical adviser for the Republic of Ireland, James Deeny, tried to close the home because in the previous year 180 babies had been born there and 100 had died.

…Bessborough opened as a mother and baby home in 1922, in a Georgian house on 150 acres in Blackrock, to the south-east of Cork City. It was owned and run by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (also, initially, a French order) and its remit – as recommended by the Cork Board of Guardians, which was responsible for the poor law union – was to remove unmarried mothers from workhouses.

The grounds were subsequently enlarged to 200 acres, and in 1930 a maternity ward was built so that women who entered the home no longer had their babies in Cork District Hospital (known as St Finbarr’s), but on the Bessborough estate itself. T

he home took in unmarried expectant mothers and women who had recently given birth from all over Ireland, paid for by local health authorities. It also accepted private fee-paying unmarried mothers. Until 1946, when the rules changed, a considerable number of these private patients, willingly or under family pressure, discharged themselves from Bessborough after giving birth, leaving their babies awaiting informal adoption or boarding out through the Catholic Women’s Aid Society.

Infant mortality was highest among those babies whose mothers had left the home, and who seem to have been routinely neglected. From the mid-1950s onwards, another adoption agency, St Anne’s, brought unmarried expectant mothers back from the United Kingdom to have their babies at Bessborough, from where they would be adopted.

All these different organisations – St Finbarr’s, the Catholic Women’s Aid Society, St Anne’s and Bessborough itself – had responsibility for the burial of children who died under their care. Private burial grounds were not legally required to keep records of burials, but canon law did require records to be kept. Yet there are almost no burial records at all.

Given the extraordinarily high mortality rates, the involvement of adoption agencies and the absence of records, it is no surprise that many people believe some of the babies did not die, but were ‘sold’ for adoption. The report did not find evidence for a trade in live babies from Bessborough, although this doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and critics, including the campaigning journalist Conall Ó Fátharta, question the commission’s conclusions. But it does suggest that whatever did happen there, ‘economies’ were at the back of it….

… During the 1920s Bessborough’s dead babies (or some of them) were buried in the ‘Poor Ground’ section of St Joseph’s Cemetery in Cork, at the cost of ten shillings each, which the congregation had to recoup from the health authority responsible for the child’s maintenance. It was expensive, and a hassle, and it would have been cheaper and easier to bury them on public assistance in the Cork District Cemetery at Carr’s Hill, a former famine ground. And perhaps that is where they are, though no burial register has been found to prove it. Or perhaps they are buried in unconsecrated ground somewhere on the Bessborough estate. That would have been the cheapest way of dealing with the problem, and was the way things were dealt with at Tuam.

At Tuam there are bones, but no burial ground. At Bessborough it is the other way round. There is a burial ground, but no bones. Inside the estate there is a small plot, which was opened in 1956 for members of the order:

It seems to have been assumed by former residents and advocacy groups that this is also where the children who died in Bessborough are buried as there are occasional meetings and commemoration ceremonies held there. The vast majority of children who died in Bessborough are not buried there; it seems that only one child is buried there.

More than nine hundred children died in Bessborough or in hospital after being transferred from Bessborough. Despite very extensive inquiries and searches, the commission has been able to establish the burial place of only 64 children. The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary who owned and ran Bessborough do not know where the other children are buried.

Unlike Tuam, which closed in 1961, the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home continued to operate until 1998. Members of the congregation claimed not to know where the children might be buried. The commission states that it…

‘…finds this very difficult to comprehend as Bessborough was a mother and baby home for the duration of the period covered by the commission (1922-98) and the congregation was involved with it for all of this time. The commission finds it very difficult to understand that no member of the congregation was able to say where the children who died in Bessborough are buried.’

But perhaps forgetting where babies were buried is a way of forgetting that they died.

One sister who lived at the home for fifty years between 1948 and 1998 could not recall the deaths of any children at all during that time, although 31 children died there between 1950 and 1960 alone. Her name is given as the informant on a number of death certificates. It is a powerful act of erasure.

No grave, no baby. No baby, no grave.

Architectures of Containment (Clair Wills, London Review of Books)

Previously: Archeology of Containment

Solicitor Kevin Higgins (top left) and Peter Mulryan (top right) in the Dáil today

This afternoon in the Dáil.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration discussed the Institutional Burials Bill with contributions from solicitor Kevin Higgins and Peter Mulryan, both of the Tuam Home Survivors Network.

From his opening statement, Mr Higgins said:

“… if this proposed bill was genuinely conceived as a measure to bring dignity to these children and a measure of closure to their families, it would probably would have been adopted on all sides and the need for pre-legislative scrutiny would not exist.

“To the members of this committee, I say: if you permit this measure to progress, you do so with your fingerprints all over it. And I believe you will come to regret it. This bill should be returned to whence it came. Nothing of worth, humanity or integrity, can be retrieved from it. I thank you, Mr Chairman.”

Later, in response to a question from Independent Senator Lynne Ruane, solicitor Kevin Higgins said:

“Dignity is one thing and it’s become an overused word throughout this process. The thing I know is that I’ve been involved in this for the past 7 years and, whereas the commission has acted independently, I know of not one single solitary, substantial thing done by any agency of the State, and certainly by the Department of Children, which has made any difference whatsoever.

Dignity and justice are inseparable. If you cannot give these children a bona fide death certificate… this Act which may decide, is essentially asking us in many ways: would we like roses around the mass grave or would we like bluebells? We don’t want either.

“We want these children, the death certificates of these children are a fantasy. There is not, senator, a single medical certificate existing for one of those children in Tuam. You cannot get a death certificate without a medical certificate. This is not new law, that pertained then.

“These children, 25 per cent, according to the death certificates, died from something as nebulous as dibility. We’re all familiar with deaths too premature, births of children. The medical attendant certified that a child of three and a half, who never showed any symptoms of illness, had actually died of prematurity. Dignity without justice, justice without dignity, we need these children to be treated with respect.

“This bill, it’s a little bit like the Commission of Investigation Act. People say it’s not fit for purpose, it’s clearly not fit for anything. How many of them have been run into the ground?…”


“…I think the existing law is quite adequate. There is nothing to prevent, in the terms of Tuam with which I am familiar and which of course is perhaps the most documented, I would say that it is possible to excavate; it is many cases, from the oleo-archaeology I have seen, to carry out post-mortems; it is possible to reach, in many cases, a determination as possible or probable cause of death. And I think not leaving us behind collectively, this is not a matter just for survivors, the bill which created Mother and Baby Homes was something as innocuous sounding as the Local Government Temporary Provisions Act 1923.

“Just for your own benefit, deputy, I can tell you that bill was finally repealed in the year 2000. That’s 21 years ago.”

“….I would just say I don’t think we need this bill. I think we need to follow the law. I believe we need to resource the coroner’s service and allow people to give evidence at the coroner’s service as to what transpired, those still living, as to what transpired within those homes, in order to allow a coroner make a determination.”


Peter Mulryan said:

I would like to know where my sister is at this moment. I’m years now looking for records of my sister. Every time I go to bed at night, I think about her. Why am I left this way? Is she dead or alive? I do not know. The information I got is so scant.

It is unbelievable they do this to a human being that was recorded as born as a healthy baby. And yet nine months later, she died. From what? Was it malnutrition? Neglect? Were they drowned? We don’t know?

“But I want to know, about my sibling, where she is now. I’m being denied all this information.

“Like to do that to an innocent baby. Now they’re trying to stop us to find out anything about where she is. And we’re denied and denied, it’s so inhumane to think that the present stated governments and what they are doing to us is beyond, beggars belief.

“I am so, so disheartened with it, that they’re still trying to make those babies suffer when they’re out there, soul-searching for their lives. To be brought into the world and to be incarcerated, and the same with my mother, what was done to her also. It’s horrendous. That’s it.”

Previously: ‘Tread Softly, For Your Tread On The Bones Of My Family’

Peter Mulryan lived in the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway for four and a half years before he was adopted out. He believes a sister called Marian died at the home or was trafficked out of Ireland as a child.

This morning/afternoon.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration is discussing the Institutional Burials Bill.

The proposed legislation will allow excavations and re-interment of remains at former mother-and-baby home institutions. Coroners will not have jurisdiction in respect of bodies exhumed from sites

Chairman of the Tuam Home Survivors Network, Peter Mulryan, who will address the committee this afternoon, had sought legal advice as to whether the committee was acting within its powers in considering the Bill.

Peter writes:

This Bill reflects work undertaken during the tenure of former Attorney General Mr Séamus Woulfe.

It has two clear objects, (1) to circumvent existing law by dispensing with Inquests into the deaths of children lying in mass graves at Tuam, Bessborough, Sean Ros and (2) to clear the way for the commercial developments on other sites which are stained with the cruelty to generations of Irish women and children.

I am not aware of when the responsibility for burials, burial grounds and the exhumation of human remains became the responsibility of this so-called “Department of Children”.

Neither, am I aware of when responsibility for dealing with unexplained deaths was removed from the Coroners Service, the Department of Justice or An Garda Síochana to this “Children’s Department”

But perhaps the members of the Committee know best. They are perhaps better educated than I was. I was simply a hungry and frightened child in the Tuam ‘Home’ before being ‘boarded out’ as a child farm labourer in a cruel environment. They have ‘satisfied’ themselves that they are acting lawfully.

I am aware of course that it is ‘customary’ that the advice of the Attorney General is not published. I simply asked the Committee if they had sought advice. Their reply was to tell me to ‘take a hike’ that it was none of my business, whether they had or not.

I find their reply whether intended to be or not, offensive. I find it insulting and disrespectful.

My sister who I never met and who has no recorded burial place, lies in the Tuam cesspit into which hers and the bodies of other infants were thrown.

Not a single “Medical Certificate” is to be found for the children of Tuam.

Their Death Certificates are works of fiction.

This Committee now sits to consider a Bill which denies my sister and so many other children, even the dignity of possibly determining her cause of death.

Shame, I say. Shame on you all for even looking at this get out of jail card for the State and the Institutional Catholic Church.

I do not want your soft words.

I do not want your sympathy.

I want justice for all the children whose lives were lost due to the indifference and cruelty of Church and State.

I note that the only amendments to this Bill since the departure of Mr Woulfe and the creation of this new Government are designed to ensure that the owners of the sites where these children lie, are are adequately compensated for any inconvenience when removing the bones of the children.

It would indeed be a crime if the dandelions and weeds that sprout from mass graves of children were to be disturbed before these lands are converted into commercial developments.

Tread softly, for you tread on the bones of my family and those of my fellow survivors

Yours respectfully,

Peter Mulryan
‘Former Inmate of the Tuam Mother and Baby Prison’.


The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is calling for the Institutional Burials Bill to be significantly reformed.

ICCL and others believe this [not having a coroner] could impede an effective investigation into the cause and circumstances of death.

Overall, it believes the bill is inconsistent with a transitional justice approach.

Call for reform of mother-and-baby homes excavations legislation (RTÉ)