Government seeks experts to advise on Tuam Mother and Baby Home site

Minister Katherine Zappone says the group is looking at options and best practice

Government seeks experts to advise on Tuam Mother and Baby Home site

The grounds where the unmarked mass grave containing the remains of nearly 800 infants who died at the Bon Secours Mother-and-Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway from 1925-1961 rests | Image: RollingNews.ie

A cross-departmental group is to focus on sourcing international technical experts with a view to providing advice on the future of the site of the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.

The Children's Minister Katherine Zappone brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday.

Minister Zappone advised that an inter-departmental group is to look at formulating proposals, options and best international practice in the event of a decision for a full excavation of the site.

She told Cabinet decisions need to be taken quickly on the future of the site.

A State inquiry confirmed 'significant quantities' of human remains there.

The commission said the remains were discovered in 17 out of 20 chambers in the septic tank-style structure.

The age-at-death of the remains is believed to be between 35 foetal weeks and 2-3 years.

Radiocarbon dating of the recovered samples suggested the remains "date from the timeframe relevant to the operation of the Mother and Baby Home".

The home in Tuam operated between 1925 and 1961, and the samples are likely to date from the 1950s.

Garda involvement

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, says Minister Zappone should ensure the gardaí are part of any such process.

"This is, of course, a highly sensitive issue, and one which must be treated as such, engaging all relevant parties in the process.

"Gardaí in Galway must be part of such a discussion, and any actions emanating from it, as this is a potential crime scene, and criminal investigations must follow any exhumations.

"The Coroner’s Office in Galway must also have any necessary resources made available to it on the commencement of this process.

"It is also vitally to victims and survivors that this Taoiseach, or the incoming Taoiseach, meet with the relevant groups to outline how the Government can help them in their search for justice," Deputy Ó Laoghaire said.

Local historian and genealogist Catherine Corless told Newstalk Drive she has met with Minister Zappone.

"I just related to her what the survivors wanted - and what they wanted was...they want their families out of that place.

"It is a tank, it is a sewage area, and their main concern is to give their relatives and brothers and sisters a decent burial, which wasn't given to them in the first place.

"A lot of them want DNA as well, just to see if it's possible to find their own little bother or sister".

"There's a lot of work that has to be done in the background, and that has been done - she has been meeting with other departments.

"Her one message is that something urgent has to be done with Tuam.

"Today's memo is the work of a good few weeks, long hours put into trying to solve this so that there will be... an outcome of justice".