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Inquiries into dark past dominate political agenda

Inside Politics: Commission examining mother and baby homes could be greatly expanded

The past week has seen troubling aspects of the past dominate the political agenda, and the Cabinet is today expected to discuss the disturbing preliminary results of one commission of investigation, the establishment of another and the prospect of yet another such inquiry being set up in future.

We refer, of course, to the mother and baby homes scandal, the establishment of a commission of investigation into the Grace case and the new assessment of evidence into the Stardust fire on Valentine's Day, 1981, which saw 48 people die at the Artane disco.

It had been expected the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes would find infant bodies were on the site of the former home in Tuam, Co Galway, yet there was still a palpable air of shock when the Minister for Children provided public confirmation at a press briefing last Friday.

The issue dominated the weekend newspapers and radio shows, and Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday described the grim discovery as “appalling, truly appalling” and said the children, seemingly buried in a septic tank, were treated as a sort of sub species.


Our lead is that the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes could be greatly expanded to take in the so-called county homes, some of which dealt with unmarried mothers and their babies.

Sources said the change is being considered because of the reaction of victims and the public since the Tuam disclosure on Friday, but they cautioned against any moves in the immediate term.

However, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone is expected to give an update on the Tuam scandal to her Cabinet colleagues today.

At their meeting today, Ministers will give the go-ahead to the commission of investigation into the alleged abuse of an intellectually disabled young woman, known as Grace, at a foster home in the southeast.

The Cabinet will also approve the appointment of retired judge Pat McCartan to head up a fresh assessment of the evidence on the Stardust tragedy.

The Government has not committed to a full scale commission into the Stardust fire. Rather, Judge McCartan will assess whether there is sufficient new evidence to warrant a commission.