Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said that other Mother and Baby Home sites could potentially be exhumed after the Tuam site in County Galway has been looked at.
Speaking at during a conference on the legacy of institutional abuse in Ireland at Boston College in the US, she said that legislation required to allow for the excavation of human remains at the site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home may allow for exhumations at the sites of similar institutions.
She explained that the Government was aware that not looking at other sites “could be an issue” and was awaiting further findings from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
“I anticipate that in our drafting of the legislation in order to do the exhumation and excavation of the Tuam site, the issue of ‘is this just for Tuam or is it for other possible sites’ will be addressed,” she said as reported by the Irish Times.
This news comes only weeks after the minister confirmed that a full forensic examination is to be carried out on the site of the former Tuam Mother & Baby Home in County Galway.
She said the decision to exhume the Tuam site was taken after the commission brought the issue to the attention of the Government, adding that it was their job to respond to such matters. “If they find something and they bring that to the attention of the State it is our job to respond,” she continued.
The Government approved the programme of action to respect the memory and dignity of the children who died in the Catholic institution.
In 2017, a significant number of human remains were discovered in an excavation carried out by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission. The remains were found in underground chambers which are believed to have been used for the treatment of sewage waste in the former home.
The government has agreed to implement a multi-disciplinary framework, called the Humanitarian Forensic Action, as the response to the discovery of children’s remains.
The minister offered “personal apologies” to those affected by what happened at Tuam, where local historian Catherine Corless found death certificates for 796 infants buried at the site.