Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has confirmed that a full forensic examination is to be carried out on the site of the former Tuam Mother & Baby Home in County Galway. 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.
In the statement released today, the actions to be taken are outlined and include:
- a phased approach to the forensic excavation and recovery of the juvenile human remains in so far as this is possible;
- the use of systematic on-site ground-truthing and test excavations to effectively locate potential burials;
- the forensic analysis of any recovered remains, and, where possible, individualisation and identification, and
- arrangements for respectful burial and memorialisation and the appropriate conservation of the site.
Minister Zappone said in today’s announcement “I understand that this is a hugely important decision for all connected to the site in Tuam, most especially those who believe that they may have a loved one buried there and those now living close to the site. I am committed to ensuring that all the children interred at this site can have a dignified and respectful burial”
She also wishes that the excavation and recovery work focuses initially on the remains that are already known to be in the chambers. Subsequently, further testing can be carried out to allow for an informed extension if needed.
In 2014, Catherine Corless exposed that hundreds of babies and children had been buried in unmarked graves on the site after years of painstaking research and work. Her advocacy was the starting point which led to the establishment of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes which discovered the remains last year.