A 'significant' number of baby remains have been discovered at a former home for unmarried mothers and their babies in the west of Ireland. The remains were found in several underground chambers located below a disused Catholic Church institution in Tuam, County Galway. The Commission on Mother and Baby Homes, tasked with investigating alleged abuse at religious-run mother and baby homes, had been excavating the site.
Katherine Zappone TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said on Friday: "This is very sad and disturbing news. It was not unexpected as there were claims about human remains on the site over the last number of years.
"Up to now we had rumours. Now we have confirmation 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."
The Minister said that there must be a "sensitive and respectful" response to the situation. She said her Department had brought together all the key Departments and agencies to set out a way forward. This include investigating post mortem practices and procedures, reporting and burial arrangements for residents of Mother and Baby Homes. The Coroner for North Galway is independently involved in the investigations.
Minister Zapone said Galway County Council will engage with local residents and other interested parties on what should happen next in relation to the remains. She said there will be an information line for factual information, and a service for those who feel personally affected by the news.
Minister Zappone added: "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."
The commission, set up two years ago, was charged with investigating high mortality rates at mother and baby homes across several decades of the 20th century, and the burial practices at these sites. It is thought about 35,000 unmarried mothers spent time in one of 10 homes run by religious orders in Ireland.
The inquiry was ordered after massive national and international focus on the story of the Sisters of the Bon Secours in Tuam, where the remains of 796 infants are believed to be buried.
For more information see: http://www.mbhcoi.ie/MBH.nsf/page/Latest%20News-en
See also: ICN 5 March 2017 Ireland: Archbishop 'horrified and saddened' at findings at former Mother and Baby Home http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=32061