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.
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 recom-mendations.”
The Burials Report is due to be submitted by 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 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.
Scoping of the legislation required to implement the Governments plan of action at the Tuam site has commenced. The preparation of legislation is a priority within the Department of Children and Youth Affairs with a new unit established for this task. Additional staff from other Departments are expected to be assigned to the unit in the coming weeks. In parallel to the legislative project, work will be carried out on sourcing appropriate expertise to carry out the works. In response to the recent calls to begin collecting the DNA samples of survivors and relatives, Minister Zappone has asked Dr Geoffrey Shannon to examine whether it is possible to meet this request within the current legislative framework. This examination will be done in the context of what is scientifically possible.
Children's Burial Ground, Sean Ross Abbey
On 23rd January 2019 the Commission conducted a geophysical survey on the site identified as the children's burial ground in Sean Ross Abbey in order to determine the nature of burials at this site. More information can be found on the Commission’s website.