Hard to identify babies at Tuam site due to mixing of remains

Department of Children releases update on investigation of mother-and-baby homes

The site where ‘significant’ quantities of human remains were found buried under the site of a former institution for unmarried mothers run by the Sisters of the Bon Secours. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The site where ‘significant’ quantities of human remains were found buried under the site of a former institution for unmarried mothers run by the Sisters of the Bon Secours. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

The examination of the mother-and-baby home site in Tuam, Co Galway, has been complicated because human remains from different babies are intermingled with each other.

This has made it much harder to identify individual babies at the site.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has released an update on mother-and-baby homes issue, as well as a paper that sketched out options on investigating the Tuam site.

The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes earlier this year announced that “significant” quantities of human remains had been found buried under the site of a former institution for unmarried mothers run by the Sisters of the Bon Secours.

The remains belonged to children aged from about 35 foetal weeks to three years.

The commission was set up in February 2015 after a Galway-based historian, Catherine Corless, published research that revealed death certificates for 796 children at the Tuam mother-and-baby home with no indication of their burial places.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said she will release a monthly update on the issue, and the first one was sent out on Friday evening.

It said that further geophysical surveys of the Tuam site would be conducted later this month. The non-invasive surveys “may assist to identify any further burials or anomalies on the areas”.

A separate options paper on what to do with the site was also released. It said “complexities include the commingled/inter-mixed juvenile human remains, which were found in significant quantities in a subsurface chambered structure with limited accessibility”.

“The probability that the commingling/inter-mixing of human remains has occurred is a significant complication to individual identification. This is more acute in the case of juvenile human remains due to their fragile nature, compounded by the potentially significant quantities involved.”