Belfast Telegraph

Draft laws for reburial of hundreds of Tuam children published

Almost 1,000 bodies were disposed of in underground chambers possibly used for treating waste water at Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway.

Draft laws enabling the reburial of hundreds of remains of babies and children from a mass grave at the former Tuam Mother and Baby Catholic care home in Ireland have been published (Niall Carson/PA).
Draft laws enabling the reburial of hundreds of remains of babies and children from a mass grave at the former Tuam Mother and Baby Catholic care home in Ireland have been published (Niall Carson/PA).

By Michael McHugh, PA

Draft laws enabling the reburial of the remains of hundreds of babies and children from a mass grave at a former Catholic care home in the Republic of Ireland have been published.

Almost 1,000 bodies were disposed of in underground chambers that were possibly used for treating waste water at Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway.

The proposed law would authorise excavation, exhumation and re-interment of the remains at the site.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone added: “The drafting of this legislation is a priority for me, and I am delighted that Government supports the approach outlined in the general scheme to deal with the various sensitive and complex issues at hand.

“I know that family members of the children interred at the site in Tuam have been eagerly awaiting this development and I am pleased that agreement on a general scheme marks a significant milestone on our journey to afford those buried there the dignity and respect that they deserve.”

Tuam was a home for unmarried mothers and their children and received unwed pregnant women before they gave birth.

They were then separated from their children, who were housed elsewhere in the home and raised by nuns until they could be adopted.

The home was run by members of the Bon Secours religious order of nuns. The congregation has agreed to help fund the exhumation work.

Excavations uncovered an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains”, a judge-led investigation previously said.

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People hold up names of victims as they protest at the site of the former Tuam home for unmarried mothers (Niall Carson/PA)

Under the draft law there would be a legal basis for forensic analysis of any recovered remains, providing for samples to be taken from them, as well as from family members of the deceased for the purpose of identification.

No appropriate oversight structures are currently in place for such a complicated and unprecedented project, the Irish Government said on Tuesday.

Its proposals would enable the establishment of a temporary agency to manage intervention at the site and act as a “dedicated and responsive” authority.

The Government could authorise interventions of a similar nature at other current or former institutions.

Ministers also approved arrangements facilitating the transfer of 2.5 million euros offered by the Sisters of Bon Secours Ireland towards the cost of the project.

A Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland found that 937 children and babies died.

PA

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