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Multiple government departments to deal with 'deeply disturbing revelations' of child burials

The issue has come to light as a result of research which found death records for 796 infants in an unmarked grave beside a children’s home.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 11pm

CHILDREN’S MINISTER CHARLIE Flanagan has said that a number of departments are looking into how best to address the issues raised as a result of the allegations of a mass grave on the grounds of a former children’s home in Galway.

Flanagan said in statement today that, “active consideration is being given to the best means of addressing the harrowing details emerging regarding the burial arrangements for children who died many years ago in mother and baby homes, and the many questions raised regarding these deaths”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie yesterday, Flanagan said that said he was shocked by the “appalling revelations” about the home and said that he expected it to be discussed at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

But it was not discussed at yesterday’s meeting and today the minister delivered the first official response from Government on the allegations:

Many of the revelations are deeply disturbing and a shocking reminder of a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been. I am particularly mindful of the relatives of those involved and of local communities. There are a number of Government departments involved in this process. The cross-departmental initiative underway will examine these matters and report to Government on how they might be addressed.

“Relevant Government departments have been tasked with working together in preparation for the Government’s early consideration and determination of the best course of action,” he added.

It is understood that Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has also asked for a report from An Garda Síochána into the matter.

The death records for 796 children, ranging in age from newborn babies to children up to the age of nine, were discovered by local historian Catherine Corless who was researching the history of the children’s home in Tuam which was run by the Bon Secours order of nuns from 1925 until 1961.

Opposition parties had earlier called for direct action on the revelations with Fianna Fáil saying that the Taoiseach should outline how the Government intends to investigate them and make an apology on behalf of the State.

“I believe that this must begin with a fulsome apology from the Taoiseach on behalf of the State. Whatever the results of any investigation it’s now clear that at the very least, these infants and their mothers were grossly mistreated at the Tuam home and were subsequently neglected by the State,” said Galway East TD Colm Keaveney.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that a full-public inquiry is needed to uncover the facts, adding that without the “Trojan efforts of a local historian these children would forever remain nameless”:

The Tuam babies case demands a full public inquiry by the government which must include in its remit the wider issue of mother and baby homes. The church and state cannot be allowed to abdicate their responsibility for what occurred.

First published 3pm

Read: Allegations about mass grave of 800 babies ‘being taken very, very seriously’ >

Read: ‘It’s time to do something’ – The forgotten mass grave of 800 babies in Galway >

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Rónán Duffy

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