11/01/2021 - Over the last 48 hours discussion of Tuam has revolved around the 'leak' of the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation. There has been no 'leak’. The release of the Report to selected media, is a calculated media strategy by Government. Its purpose has been distraction and the amount of media chatter is the measure of its success.

The explanation for this is simple, but ignored in the fog and noise. At Tuesday's Cabinet, Government meets to approve the "Certain Historic Burials (Authorised Interventions) Bill". The original authors were Katherine Zappone and Mr Séamus Woulfe.

Irrespective of the dishonesty of the argument that will be advanced to justify this provision, it has at its heart only one purpose, to prevent the holding of any Inquest into the deaths of at least 9,000 children and indeed mothers, in Mother and Baby Homes. To give this proper context, even a cursory review of the Tuam death toll is revealing.

At least 796 children are recorded by the Registrar-General as dying within the Tuam 'Home'. The average age of more than 79% of those dying within the 'Home' was less than 12 months.

Before a Death Certificate can be issued by the State, a Medical Certificate must by law, be provided by a Doctor who attended the Deceased within six weeks of death.

While 796 Death Certificates do exist, the Registrar-General is unable to produce a Medical Certificate for a single child. From the short note on the available Death Certificates however, we can extract the following information:

Eighteen (18) children are recorded as dying from starvation (marasmus).

Some 193 children or 25% of the total deaths were 'certified’ as suffering from 'debility' as a cause of death, without any explanation as to what this convenient shorthand means (in the years after the retirement of Dr Costello then in his mid 80s not a single death from 'debility' is recorded).

When we add Dr Costello's 'certification' of death as being caused by the child being a 'congenital idiot' to that number; we arrive at a total of 221 children recorded as dying from such 'causes'. Closer examination of the death toll shows that many of the other recorded causes of death are simply fiction.

What we do know is that the Tuam pit whether described a cess-pit, waste-water tank or other, is where the bodies of the Tuam children were thrown. We know that the 'management' of the Tuam 'Home’ was in the hands of the Bon Secours Order of Nuns and that they were paid to run it by the State.

We know that many of the remains of the children first located in September 2016, despite the rough treatment they have received, still exhibit signs of violent trauma to parts of the body from their skulls to their tiny feet. There is clear and extensive evidence of rickets among those remains.

Rickets one of the most tangible societal signs of extreme poverty. It is caused by a diet so restricted and inadequate, it amounts to starvation and abuse. A further major cause is lack of exposure to sunlight, something from which the Children imprisoned in the former dilapidated Workhouse suffered. 

Rickets cause;
Abnormally curved spines
Skeletal deformities.

It is not therefore surprising that Dr Costello cheerfully records all of these in abundance in certifying deaths. As a matter of record, he is reported in a local newspaper telling members of the 'Local Board of Health' that it was normal worldwide for 50% of children to die by the age of five.

The lesson of Tuam is clear. If you suffer the trauma of finding the body of a child in your garden, An Garda Siochana, the State Pathologist and the local Coroner will arrive at your door. An Inquest will as a matter of law be convened and you may well be arrested and questioned.

However, if the maltreated bodies of 796 children, who were in the words of former Taoiseach Enda Kenny treated as a 'sub-species' are found in a cesspit attached to a 'Home' run by Nuns for 36 years, the ‘Minister for Children will bring a Bill to Cabinet to ensure no Inquest is ever held.