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Tuam: Ex-residents and families want further excavation and DNA analysis

Galway County Council received 799 written submissions on what to do with the Tuam site where a mass grave was found.

The site of the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.
The site of the former Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.
Image: RollingNews.ie

FORMER RESIDENTS AND their families of the Mother and Baby home in Tuam, Co Galway want a full forensic excavation of the site and DNA analysis, a report has said.

The public consultation with residents, families, locals and the public, follows on from an expert report that compiled five options about what could be done with the Tuam site.

Galway County Council had set up a site and a phone number to receive people’s suggestions on those five options – that consultation process gathered 799 written submissions and hosted a number of meetings.

78 submissions were made by relatives of former residents of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and 19 of those who made written submissions were former residents of the Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. 131 submissions were from locals.

An analysis of the submissions found that there were two options that were clearly favoured, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said:

  • Local residents largely advocated for memorialisation and non-disturbance of the remains (87% of local residents preferred this option)
  • Former residents of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, along with relatives of former residents, expressed a preference for full forensic excavation of the site along with DNA analysis
  • The general public were almost equally divided between memorialisation alone and some form of forensic excavation and DNA analysis, with the majority in the latter group favouring the most extensive intervention.

68% of former residents expressed a wish for forensic excavation and DNA analysis. 5%
preferenced exhumation and burial. 26% of former residents opted for memorialisation.

93% of relatives of former residents wished for forensic excavation and DNA analysis. 89% preferred the most extensive option of forensic analysis of the whole area.

Only 1% of relatives of former residents sought the option of memorialisation alone.

The largest number of written submissions were from the public (568). 50% of this group expressed preferences for forensic excavation of the Tuam Site with DNA analysis where possible, while 48% wanted memorialisation only.

This is a factual report based on submissions from locals, former residents and their families, and the general public – it doesn’t recommend a specific course of action.

File Photo CHILDREN’S MINISTER Katherine Zappone has apologised to survivors of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway after “highly confidential information” about the site was leaked to the media. In a statement issued this morning, Za Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone. Source: Leah Farrell

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone thanked the public for engaging in the process and said that she welcomed “the respect and concern expressed by all participants for the dignity of the deceased”.

The Inter-Departmental Group (IDG) has met to discuss the five options presented by the report and to co-ordinate the State’s response. A number of complex legal, technical and operational issues require further consideration before a proposal on what to do with the site is brought to the government by Zappone.

Background

In March 2017 the Commission into Mother and Baby Homes confirmed that a “significant” number of human remains were discovered at the site of the former Bon Secours home in Tuam. Scientific analysis put the age of death between 35 foetal weeks and two to three years.

The Commission said the remains were discovered in a structure which appears to be “related to the treatment/containment of sewerage and/or wastewater”.

Experts have previously said that the excavation of the site will be extremely complex, and that identification of the remains would be difficult, primarily because they would have “comingled”.

Between 1925 and 1960, 796 children died at the Tuam mother and baby home.

The work of Catherine Corless, an amateur historian, led to the discovery. In October, Corless was awarded the Bar of Ireland’s Human Rights Award for her work regarding the Tuam site.

File Photo The woman who uncovered the Tuam Mother and Baby scandal is to be honoured with a major human rights award today. Catherine Corless. Source: RollingNews.ie

The government agreed to extend the deadline of a report into 14 former Mother and Baby homes, including Tuam, from February 2018 to February 2019.

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