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.
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. While the Government has agreed to extend the timeframe for its final report, the Commission will now report on the key issue of burial arrangements at the major institutions by 15 March 2019.
In examining the need for more time it is essential to acknowledge that this investigation includes multiple lines of inquiry relating to the operation of quite different institutions over a period of more than three quarters of a century. The public interest, and most importantly the interest of former residents, is best served by facilitating the Commission to conduct the comprehensive analysis required to make its findings and recommendations.”
The Commission has also provided an update on its engagement with former residents and others with connections to these institutions. It has captured the personal experiences of 519 witnesses through the work of its Confidential Committee and now expects this process to be completed by the end of January.
The Commission is continuing to take evidence about conditions in the institutions from former residents, workers and the authorities that ran the institutions and this work is not yet complete. The Commission reports that when its cross-referencing of all records is complete it should provide as comprehensive an account as is possible of the pathways of children concerned.
Responding to the report the Minister said “I am reassured to read that the Commission is seeking to comprehensively collate and analyse information at a level which has never been possible before. This is a unique opportunity to significantly enhance our national understanding and recognition of the most difficult experiences endured by mothers and children in these institutions.”
In relation to burials, the Commission reiterates the significant challenges it has experienced in investigating the burial arrangements in a number of the institutions. The report notes that people have recently come forward with additional information and the Commission is in the process of checking this information. Furthermore, the Commission advised the Minister that it plans to conduct geophysical surveys on the burial grounds associated with the former Sean Ross Abbey institution in Co. Tipperary as part of its examination of burial arrangements at this location.
Most significantly, the Commission advised the Minister that it plans to deliver a substantial report on the burial arrangements for persons who died while resident in these institutions. The Commission has agreed to submit a detailed interim report on this aspect of its terms of reference by the 15 March 2019. The report will include extensive technical reports prepared in the course of the Commission’s work on the site of the former institution in Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway and the Commission’s assessment of burial arrangements at other major institutions.
The Minister concluded by confirming that the extension of time for the Commission will not impact on the planned forensic excavation of the Tuam site. The Commission’s burials report is expected to assist and inform the on-going work to advance the legislative and operational arrangements for this priority project.