Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.53 3 Dec 2020


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A historian says she fears hundreds of children could be buried on the site of a former mother and baby home in Cork.

Historian Catherine Corless, whose research unveiled the mass burial of hundreds of children in a septic tank at a similar home in Tuam, says she's concerned the site in Bessborough could be a 'carbon copy' of what happened Tuam.

A controversial planning application to build an apartment block near the Bessborough home has been lodged.

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Survivors' groups have called on the developer to halt plans until the publication of the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which is due next month.

Ms Corless is calling for an excavation of the site - saying that 'it has to' happen despite suggestions it would not be feasible.

Catherine Corless fears Bessborough site 'may be a carbon copy of Tuam'

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Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, she said: "My concerns are that Bessborough may be a carbon copy of Tuam.

"When I gave a talk down at the college there last year, I met with a lot of survivors and those who have family missing. We walked the grounds with them.

"What I have found out is they have the names of all the children who died in Bessborough - and they have up to 1,000 names."

She said that despite the list of names and associated records, the burial sites for hundreds of those children are not yet known.

She added that it's horrific to think there are so many children missing, and she called for authorities to intervene in the situation.

Commission's final report

Separately, it's been confirmed today that the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes will be published in the week of January 11th.

The Children's Minister has told the Dáil that he will bring a memo to Cabinet that week for approval to publish it, after the Government received the document in October.

Roderic O'Gorman says he received the final report at the end of October, and efforts to publish it are now at 'an advanced stage'.

He said he will continue to engage with survivors ahead of the publication of the report, saying he 'recognises how important it is' that residents are contacted about it first.

It comes following the recent controversy over legislation relating to records of the commission.

Survivors and campaigners voiced serious concerns that confidential testimonies will be sealed for 30 years.

Minister O'Gorman apologised over the handling of the issue and said he "deeply" regrets his failure to communicate and engage with survivors of Mother and Baby Homes.

He pledged the Government would work to ensure survivors of the home can access some of the records.

Main image: Catherine Corless at the site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam mother and baby home, Galway. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images

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