30/12/2018 -Tuam Home Survivors Network welcomes confirmation by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, that excavation work will begin on the site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home during the latter half of 2019. We note that experts will be appointed in the interim and legislation passed in order to carry out the works which will commence on a phased basis.
It is now four and a half years since Alison O’Reilly broke the story of Tuam to the world press on Sunday the 25th of May, 2014. In March 2017, Minister Katherine Zappone advised that the remains uncovered during the test excavation dated to the period of the home (1925-1961) and were of babies and children aged between 35 fetal weeks and three years. This revelation, while confirming what many survivors and family members suspected, brought a new urgency to the situation. Finally, Dr. Geoffrey Shannon’s report focused on the human rights which continue from cradle to beyond the grave attributing to the #796 in an effort to provide much needed dignity and respect to the lost children of Tuam and six mothers whose burial place remains unknown.
07/12/2018 - The Collaborative Forum has now met on four occasions and is due to meet again in early December. Minutes of the July, September and October meetings are currently available to view on our website.
We understand that the members of the Forum are working hard to produce a first report with a focus on priority issues around health and well being supports, identity and memorialisation.
Minister Zappone would like to thank the Forum Members for their dedication and the hard work they have shown in 2018 and she looks forward to further engagement with the Forum in 2019.
14/09/2018 -The second meeting of the Collaborative Forum was held on Wednesday 12th of September in City Hall, Dublin.
The membership of the three sub-committees, as envisioned in the Charter for the Collaborative Forum, was agreed by Forum members
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.