Minister says discovery of human remains on site of former Mother and Baby Home is 'upsetting'

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Minister says discovery of human remains on site of former Mother and Baby Home is 'upsetting'

Minister Sean Canney.

Independent Alliance Minister of State for the OPW and Galway East TD, Sean Canney has described the finding of human remains on the site of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway as an upsetting development. 

This follows work by the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes which carried out planned excavations there.

Minister Canney said:

“I am deeply saddened by the news. The upsetting development confirms what had been claimed locally about human remains on the site over the last number of years. In that regard, I want to acknowledge the work of local historian Catherine Corless, whose research brought the issue to light.”

“The Commission of Investigation has confirmed that the remains are there, and that they date back to the time of the Mother and Baby Home, which operated in Tuam from 1925 to 1961.”

“As we know, mother and baby homes came to public attention in the summer of 2014 following a series of disturbing reports of high mortality rates and claims of possible burials of children on the grounds of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam Co Galway.  The then Government decided to have these matters investigated and a statutory Commission of Investigation was established in February 2015.”

“An early focus of the Commission’s work was to examine the Tuam site to address questions about the alleged interment of human remains. As part of this process, the Commission conducted a series of surveys and test excavations, commencing last October and concluding recently. I visited the site myself and met former residents and relatives shortly before these works commenced.

“As announced today the Commission has confirmed the presence of human remains on the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.  The Home was run by the Bon Secours Sisters from 1925-1961 in what was previously a workhouse dating back to famine times. In the 1970’s the former home was demolished to make way for a local authority housing estate.”

Minister Canney said it was now very important that all concerned respond sensitively and respectfully to today’s development, bearing in mind the hurt and pain involved for those directly connected to the Mother and Baby Home.  

“I know that my colleague, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has brought together all of the key Departments and agencies to set out a way forward.  This will include the following:

-​The Commission will continue its work under its terms of reference, including such matters as post mortem practices and procedures, reporting and burial arrangements for residents of Mother and Baby Homes

-​The Coroner for North Galway will take the steps he deems necessary under his independent statutory functions

-​Galway County Council will engage with the Commission in relation to the immediate next steps on the site

-​Galway County Council will engage with local residents and other interested parties on what should happen next in relation to the remains

-​There will be an information line for factual information, and a service for those who feel personally affected by the news.

- ​Having been notified by the Commission of its discoveries, the Coroner for North Galway will consider what steps may be necessary and appropriate in accordance with his statutory functions, on the basis of the information now made available. He is of course independent in the discharge of these functions. It is open to the coroner to call on the support of the Gardaí and any other authorities as he may deem necessary.

-​Galway County Council and the Commission of Investigation will engage in relation to the next steps on the site, now that the Commission’s excavations have been concluded.  Importantly, the site has been made secure pending any further decision.

- ​Galway County Council will engage with local residents and other interested parties on what should happen next in relation to the remains.  

Minister Canney added: “The news will undoubtedly shock and upset a whole range of people who would have had a connection with the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam.”

“Today is about remembering and respecting the dignity of the children who lived their short lives in this Home.  We will honour their memory and make sure that we take the right actions now to treat their remains appropriately.”

Minister Canney added: “There is dedicated telephone Information line being made available for people seeking further information over the coming days.”

Those seeking factual information may contact the Information Line @ Telephone 01-6473118 / 01- 6473232 during Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm.