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Handover of 25,000 mother-and-baby files indicates "scale and breadth" of investigation

Some 25,000 files have been handed over by the Sacred Heart Adoption Society to the Cork offices of Government agency ‘TUSLA’.

A headstone for a baby who died at the Bessborough Centre in Blackrock, Cork in the mid 1990's.
A headstone for a baby who died at the Bessborough Centre in Blackrock, Cork in the mid 1990's.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

CHILDREN’S MINISTER CHARLIE Flanagan has confirmed that 25,000 files have been handed over from the Sacred Heart Adoption Society to the Cork offices of the Child and Family Agency ‘TUSLA’.

The Sacred Heart Sisters operated three of the country’s largest mother-and-baby homes: Bessborough in Cork, Castlepollard in Westmeath and Sean Ross Abbey in Tipperary.

Speaking in the Dáil, Flanagan said the figure indicated the scale and breadth of the task facing the Commission of Investigation being set up to examine the country’s mother-and-baby institutions.

He made the comments as his Department confirmed that it had received over 100 submissions from individuals and groups as part of the planned investigation.

Senior officials from eight Government departments briefed Cabinet today on the interim findings of the cross-departmental review being carried out in advance of the formal start of the Commission of Investigation.

A number of Government departments and state agencies were asked to scope the issues relevant to the Commission and to report by the end of June.

Flanagan said he intended to move ahead with the finalisation of the terms of reference ”and to bring a resolution to the Oireachtas for consideration prior to the summer recess to facilitate the making of an order to formally establish the Commission”.

Regarding the hand-over of documents to TULSA in Cork, he said:

What we will have to do is go through these documents, as we in the context of the investigation deal with the very sensitive issues involved – by way of insuring that we have at this point in our history a full and detailed appraisal of what went on over the years.

He said the number of files gave a good indication of the the scale of the inquiry, which he said would provide a “detailed history going back to the foundation of the state and up to the 1980s”.

Flanagan has been meeting with survivors’ groups, campaigners, academics with expertise in the area, opposition politicians and religious leaders in recent weeks as part of the inter-departmental review.

Yesterday afternoon was set as the deadline for submissions to the Department — after a dedicated email address was set up earlier last month.

There have been calls to have the Commission include many of the various Protestant-run children’s homes and orphanages, while one group said the investigation may have to examine activities in “around 100″ institutions in all.

Read: It’s not just Tuam… Mother-and-baby probe needs to examine at least 100 institutions, Minister told

Exclusive: Children died of malnutrition, syphilis, heart failure at mother and baby home

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