Report on mother and baby homes delayed following request for extension

Report is now due to be completed by June 26th, outgoing Minister for Children says

The commission was established following claims that up to 800 babies may have been interred in an unmarked mass grave in the Bons Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, County Galway.

The commission was established following claims that up to 800 babies may have been interred in an unmarked mass grave in the Bons Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, County Galway.

 

The final report of the commission investigating the mother and baby homes has been delayed following a request for an extension of time.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, who remains in her ministerial post despite losing her seat in the general election, said she had received the sixth interim report of the commission, which “raises complex issues related to the completion of the commission’s programme of work”.

The report is now due to be completed by the June 26th this year. The department is yet to respond to queries on when the report will be published.

The commission was established to inquire into the treatment of, and dealings with, women and children in 14 mother and baby homes as well as four county homes between 1922 and 1998. It was due to report within three years of its establishment in 2015.

Ms Zappone said the extension was requested “because the commission is required to transfer its records to the Minister and deal with third party legal costs prior to submitting its final report, (it) has requested an extension of time to enable it to effectively manage these issues”.

The commission, she said, “has highlighted how these requirements create significant problems in the absence of a further extension of time”.

“I know that many former residents and their families have contributed to this process and are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigation. We can now confidently say that we are nearing the conclusion of this critically important and comprehensive investigative process.”

She said the Government’s priority in granting the extension is to avoid any risk to the outcome of the investigation.

The fifth interim report, which was published last April, found that the burial locations of hundreds of children who died in the mother and baby homes remain unknown. The commission was established following claims that up to 800 babies may have been interred in an unmarked mass grave in the Bons Secours Mother and Baby home in Tuam, County Galway.

The discovery of human remains in a chambered structure, suggested to be a septic tank, at the home caused outrage and generated coverage around the world in 2015. While no final verdict has been recorded yet on the precise use of the structure at the time remains were placed there, soil sampling suggested that “at least some of the chambers in which human remains were found were at some stage used to receive sewage”.

After being furnished with a copy of the report, the Bons Secours sisters commissioned an expert report which suggested that the underground structure may have been “designed as a burial vault and then used as such”. The commission found that it “was not a recognised burial ground or purpose built chamber. It did not provide for the dignified internment of human remains”.