26 October 2018, The Tablet

Irish government calls on Church to help pay for Tuam mother and baby home excavation


The children’s minister has written to Francis calling on the Vatican to “contribute substantially” towards the excavation, predicted to cost €13 m


Irish government calls on Church to help pay for Tuam mother and baby home excavation

Tuam mass grave
Photo: Stock photo

Ireland’s government has called on the Catholic Church to contribute financially towards the cost of excavating the site of a former mother and baby home in County Galway, where around 800 infants are thought to have been buried in a disused septic tank.

Children’s minister, Catherine Zappone, has written to Pope Francis calling on the Vatican to “contribute substantially” towards the excavation, which is predicted to cost over €13 million. She is yet to receive a reply, the Times reports.  

The Bon Secours sisters, who ran the home, have offered a fixed contribution of €2.5 million. 

An investigation of the site in County Galway was undertaken after historian Catherine Corless published research in 2014 showing that 796 children died at the home between 1925 and 1961 when it closed, but there was no indication of where the infants were buried.

The remains were found in two structures believed to be part of the sewage system at the former home and related to infants aged from about 35 foetal weeks up to two or three years.

Following the discovery, a commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Yvonne Murphy, was set up in February 2015 to investigate 14 mother and baby homes, as well as four County Homes that operated between 1922 and 1998, looking at living conditions, infant mortality, burial arrangements, vaccine trials and illegal adoption.

Ms Zappone told Irish press yesterday (25 October) that “all reasonable steps” will be taken to ensure that the children interred at the former Tuam home will have a “dignified and respectful burial” and DNA technology will be used.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said that identifying all of the remains may not be possible.

“While we will do our utmost to carry out a forensic examination, individualisation and identification, in many and perhaps most cases, it will not yield a result or answers,” he told journalists. 


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