Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Bones find in Galway reignites calls for Northern Ireland mother and baby homes probe

By Adrian Rutherford

Fresh calls have been made for an inquiry into claims that decades of abuse took place in mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland.

It follows the discovery of a "significant" quantity of human remains in "underground chambers" at a former home for unmarried mothers and their babies in Co Galway.

A commission set up to investigate alleged abuse at religious-run mother and baby homes has been carrying out an excavation at the former Catholic Church institution in Tuam.

It said it was "shocked" by the discovery of "significant quantities of human remains" in at least 17 of 20 underground chambers being excavated in recent weeks.

"A small number of remains were recovered for the purpose of analysis," the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes said.

"These remains involved a number of individuals with age-at-death ranges from approximately 35 foetal weeks to two-three years.

"Radiocarbon dating of the samples recovered suggest that the remains date from the time frame relevant to the operation of the mother and baby home."

Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty International said women in Northern Ireland had come forward to say they had suffered arbitrary detention, forced labour, ill-treatment and the removal and forced adoption of their babies.

He added: "Some also suspect that there was unofficial disposal of the remains of babies and infants who died at the homes.

"We are now calling for site surveys, potentially leading to excavations, at all former mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland and a proper investigation into the litany of human rights abuses which are alleged at the institutions."

The organisation previously identified 12 mother and baby homes or Magdalene Laundry-type institutions here, some operating into the 1980s.

Thousands of unmarked graves - including of babies - have previously been identified in the Bog Meadows beside Milltown cemetery.

The Tuam home operated from 1925 to 1961. A number of the samples are likely to date from the 1950s, the commission said. A coroner has been notified.

The Republic's Children's Minister Katherine Zappone described the discovery as "very sad and disturbing news".

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph