Taoiseach accused of ‘insulting’ women over Tuam baby scandal

Heated exchanges in Dáil as Independent TD criticises Kenny’s handling of controversy

A heated exchange in the Dáil between the Taoiseach and Independent TD Catherine Connolly ensued after Connolly claimed he was insulting the women of Ireland. Video: Oireachtas

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he sees no reason why an interim report from the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes to the Government should not be published.

Mr Kenny said he had not read the report, which had been submitted to Minister for Children Katherine Zappone some time ago.

The report was furnished months before a statement from the commission last Friday in which it said it was “shocked” by the discovery of human remains of a significant number of babies and infants on the site of a former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

The home was run by the Bon Secours order of nuns from 1925 to 1961.

The remains were found during a test excavation by the commission carried out between last November and February.

Calls have since been made for a preservation order to be placed on the grounds of a former Bon Secours hospital in Tuam because there might be a children’s burial ground at the location.

It is in a separate location to the former mother and baby home.

Redevelopment

The hospital was vacated by the order in 2001 when it was purchased by the HSE.

The HSE plans to refurbish it for mental health and early intervention services, but planning permission is conditional on archaeological monitoring of excavation work.

Investigation

Ms Meehan says that her mother gave birth to a baby boy in the late 1950s who did not survive.

Several other people who believe they have infant relatives buried at the site have disputed the order’s contention that children who did not survive birth were returned to their families.

The order has said it cannot categorically state this happened in all cases.

Members of the order who were buried on the grounds had their bodies exhumed and reinterred in Knock,Co Mayo, when the Bon Secours left the property.

In the Dáil, Independent TD Catherine Connolly sharply criticised the Taoiseach and said she was not sure whether Mr Kenny was completely and utterly out of his depth or whether he stuck to prepared scripts.

She said she had specifically asked him about the publication of an interim report which Ms Zappone had had since last September.

She added: “I am asking you now to confirm why it has not been published eight months later. What is in it that is so frightening ?”

Shameful

She asked who had instituted the removal of the babies, not directly by the nuns in the middle of the night, but as a result of a visit from a priest or somebody doing their job.

Meanwhile, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has warned that expanding the scope of the inquiry into mother and baby homes could delay findings in relation to Tuam.