02/11/2018 - On 23rd October last, the Government approved Minister Zappone’s recommendation for the forensic excavation of the available site of the former Mother and Baby Home, Tuam, Co. Galway. The Government has agreed to implement the multi-disciplinary framework, known as Humanitarian Forensic Action, as the appropriate response to the discovery of children’s remains interred at this site. The actions which will now be taken are:
Boston Transitional Justice Conference
05/10/2018 - In November 2018 Boston College will be hosting the Towards Transitional Justice: Recognition, Truth-telling, and Institutional Abuse in Ireland conference.This conference will be attended by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone who has been invited to give the opening address of the conference.
The two day event will host a series of talks by academics, advocates, journalists and survivors speaking on a variety of topics from a transitional justice perspective.
22/10/2018 - Birth and Death Certificates for the former Tuam Home number 1101 births within the Home and 796 deaths within the Home. Of those recorded as dying within the Home, slightly in excess of 79% failed to reach the age of one year.
The graveyard records of Galway County Council disclose burial places for just two of those children. Despite the previous knowledge of both Galway County Council and the Bon Secours Order, the presence of large numbers of infant remains was finally confirmed by an exploratory dig at the Tuam site in October 2016. It further confirmed that the resting place of those remains had, for some decades, served as repository for sewerage.
27/08/2018 - The publication today of a letter, by Katherine Zappone, which she handed to the Pope is nothing more than a publicity stunt.
She writes in the preamble to that letter: I am the Minister responsible for the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. This is of course an absurd statement. Ms Zappone is merely the Minister to which the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is to report. In a different country, such a Commission would be reporting to a Justice Minister. What Minister Zappone has been responsible for more than two years, is a dishonest exercise in respect of the Tuam pit, which has prolonged the agony of survivors and those whose relatives may be buried there, by standing in the way of an exhumation.
In the course of her letter to the Pope, she attempts to maintain the myth that she with her Cabinet colleagues can decide the future of the mass grave at Tuam. To be clear once more, the only office-holder with jurisdiction over the mass grave at Tuam is the local Coroner. Where a Coroner fails to convene an Inquest, the Attorney General has under s24 of the Coroners Act 1961, the power indeed obligation, to appoint another Coroner to do so. Neither the previous Attorney General Maire Whelan nor the current incumbent Seamus Woulfe, have fulfilled their obligations to do so. Minister Zappone has sat in Cabinet with both and cannot be unaware of the position.
The first meeting of the Collaborative Forum was held on Thursday 26th July in Government Buildings Minister Katherine Zappone was in attendance at this inaugural meeting and addressed the Forum’s 20 members, thanking them for their commitment and highlighting the value of the Forum as -
“A real opportunity for us to take one more step in putting our shameful past behind us — not forgetting it, or simply ‘moving on’, but acknowledging, knowing, recording, and building on it; using our past to help us to move forward”.
08/08/2018 - The following is a copy of a letter sent to Mr Séamus Woulfe, Attorney General by Peter Mulryan dated 7th August 2018.
Mr Seamus Woulfe SC
Office of the Attorney General,
Dear Mr Woulfe,
Further to my recent letter.
Dr Val Costello as Coroner for North Galway continues to fail in his obligations to convene an Inquest into the mass grave at Tuam and the deaths of up to 800 infants.
Where he has so clearly failed, there is a clear obligation on you to appoint a Coroner to convene an Inquest into the Tuam deaths. It is not up to me to cite the legal argument or statutory basis under which that duty falls on you, it must be assumed that you as Attorney are reasonably aware of the law and of the significance of the Tuam mass grave.
22/07/2018 - The following written by Kevin Higgins is based on research undertaken by him over the last four years and is part of a much larger work. It gives us a clearer view of how the Tuam children were treated including my own sister and makes it even more urgent that a full exhumation takes place. An Inquest must be convened and post-mortems conducted to determine how the Children of the Tuam Home died.
Kevin Higgins has acted as my solicitor in the only litigation involving Mother and Baby Homes which has so far come before the High Court. Those proceedings will continue.
Peter Mulryan, Chairperson, Tuam Home Survivors Network.
Dr Thomas Bodkin Costello (and Friends)
Dr Thomas Bodkin Costello, local worthy, doctor, enthusiastic antiquarian and by popular acclaim, all-round 'good egg', became Medical Officer to the so-called Mother and Baby Home at Tuam when it opened in 1925. He had previously been Medical Officer to Tuam Workhouse, for many years, housed in those same buildings until its closure in 1921.
While we know from a number of disclosures in recent years, that any records kept by the Bon Secours Order when they managed the Home over thirty-six years, must be viewed with distrust, we should be able to treat official State documents with some credibility. In this instance, we should be able to look at the Death Certificates for 796 children issued by the State itself between 1925 and 1961 with some confidence. These Certificates deal only with those children who died within the Home itself and give no indication as to the life span or health and welfare of any child who left the Home. Furthermore, there is no certainty that the 796 Death Certificates available reflect the deaths of all children which occurred in the Home.