The following is the response of the Tuam Home Survivors Network to the 5th Interim Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Related Matters.
It is not intended as an exhaustive response but is intended to draw attention to some of the matters set out in the Report.
Tuam Home Survivors Network
It is impossible to say what was in the mind of the last Bon Secours nun who closed the doors of the Grove private hospital Tuam in 2001, but it was certainly the end of an era. The Bon Secours' role in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home may have ended when it was closed suddenly in 1961, but it was forty years later, that they left behind the evidence of perhaps the most monumental and ugliest crime in the history of the State. The Bon Secours had left the scene of the crime.
Test Excavations at Sean Ross Abbey
The Commission has recently conducted geophysical testing on the burial grounds located on the site of Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea Co. Tipperary. Following the initial geophysical testing, the Commission began test excavations on Monday 18 February and this process is expected to last 3 weeks.The Commission is due to deliver an interim report next month in relation to Burials at the sites of former Mother and Baby Homes. The Minister intends to publish this report as quickly as possible after she has an op-portunity to study its contents in conjunction with her Government colleagues
Commission of Investigation Extension Granted by Government
On Tuesday 22nd January Government agreed to a request from the Commission for an extension of one year to allow it to complete its final report. The request was made in the Commission’s 4th Interim Report which was submitted to Minister Zappone in December of last year.Speaking after the Government meeting, Minister Zappone said,“I know this is not the news which survivors and their families wanted to hear. I know they will be disappointed by this development but the Commission is confident that with this additional time it can comprehensively report on its terms of reference.
To ensure there is no ambiguity on the position of the Tuam Home Survivors Network in relation to recent announcements by Katherine Zappone and the Government, kindly note the following:
The aims and policy of the Tuam Home Survivors Network are
- The exhumation of all human remains at the Tuam site.
- The creation of a DNA database of all survivors, family members of survivors, family members of those registered as dying in the Tuam home and family members of any persons known to be missing from the Tuam home so as to identify as many as possible of the human remains.
- That all aspects of the forensic exhumation of the Tuam mass grave be undertaken by the only legal authority both permitted and obliged to do so, the Coroners Service under the auspices of the Department of Justice.
It is beyond debate that the Minister continues to act ultra vires in this matter. That is our clear position.
The fact that Coroner for North Galway has failed in his duty to convene an Inquest or that successive Attorneys General have failed in their duty to appoint another Coroner, or the fact that the Department of Justice has failed to fulfil its role, does not mean that their powers devolve on the Minister for Children by default.
It is difficult to see what if any role the Minister for Children has in this matter. Any suggestion that she has the power to control the process of bringing closure to the Tuam story is constitutionally and legally absurd and we do not in any way support it.
29/01/2019 - Tuam Home Survivors' Network, representing survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and families of the lost children of Tuam has this morning urged the Government to begin collecting their DNA samples immediately.
This work should proceed in a way that will be of greatest benefit to the greatest number of survivors, victims and families. For this to be achieved, as much information as possible should be obtained from each sample of human remains. The quantifying of the DNA extracted is the paramount task to be accomplished.
Government approves an extension of time to bring certainty to the timeframe for completion of the Commission’s work
New timeline does not delay the programme of action on the Tuam site
Detailed interim report on burials to be submitted in March 2019
Statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD
22/01/2019 - The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has today (22 January 2019) published the Fourth Interim Report from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
In the Report, the Commission provides an update on its work with a particular focus on the practical and logistical challenges which must be factored into managing a statutory investigation of this scale and complexity.
At its meeting today the Government agreed to a request from the Commission for an extension of one year to allow it to complete its final report. This additional time will ensure the investigation can complete the analysis of diverse sources of information as it seeks to comprehensively address the wide range of concerns referred to it.
Minister Receives First Report of the Collaborative Forum
14/01/2019 - In mid-December members of the Collaborative Forum met in Miesian Plaza to present Minister Katherine Zappone with the Forum’s first report.
The Forum was established to facilitate and empower persons who endured these institutions to contribute to decisions on matters of concern to them and their families. In this way the voices of survivors can be a significant input into the Government’s response to these hugely complex and sensitive matters.