The Tuam mother-and-baby home scandal has led to a call for “an urgent inquiry, including a Garda investigation, into the circumstances surrounding the unexplained deaths of a large number of children” there.
Making the call, Minister of State at the Department of Education, East Galway TD Ciaran Cannon said he had spoken to Minister for Justice Frances FitzGerald and Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan on the matter.
“They have both indicated that they will be meeting with their officials this week and have suggested that a cross-departmental approach will be required to determine what is the best way to move forward on this issue. Doing nothing is simply not an option for us in Government when presented with details of this nature,” he said.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said that “if a public or state inquiry is not established into outstanding issues of concern surrounding the mother-and-baby homes, then it is important that a social history project be undertaken to get an accurate picture of these homes in our country’s history”.
Archbishop Martin also said that "where there are reasonable grounds" he supports "excavating what may be unmarked graves" and "the setting up of monuments at any unmarked grave sites with, where possible, the names of those who died".
Following research by a local Tuam historian Catherine Corless into the operation of the mother-and-baby home run by the Sisters of Bon Secours congregations there, it emerged that up to 796 children may have died at the home during the period of its operation from 1925 to 1961.
Records at Galway County Council list a very large number of deaths occurring at the home. Details are also emerging of the discovery in the 1970s of a large number of unidentified remains in a water tank close to the home, leading some to conclude that deceased children were disposed of in the tank without a proper burial or any records being kept on their interment.
Mr Cannon said: “This is turning into a horrific account of maltreatment, neglect and a complete abdication of responsibility for the care of these very vulnerable young children. With each passing day more and more questions emerge - questions which cannot be ignored and need to be answered.”
Representatives of the Sisters of Bon Secours in Ireland are to meet Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary to discuss how best to honour all who died in the home.