Friday, September 30, 2016

Tuam babies: Excavation of children's burial ground to go ahead

Memorial: site of the mass grave in Tuam – there are many other burial grounds in Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson.A test excavation is set to take place at the site of a children’s burial ground in Tuam, Co Galway.

The excavation was announced today by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation which is currently probing how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 State-linked religious institutions.

Excavation work will begin from tomorrow and last for approximately five weeks, it said.

“A sample of the site will be excavated by a team of specialist Archaelogists lead by a Forensic Archaelogist. Works are taking place with the full co-operation of An Garda Síochána,” the Commission stated.

It said the purpose of the excavation is to resolve “a number of queries that the Mother and Baby Homes Commission has in relation to the interment of human remains at this location”.

“This excavation will focus on timeline and stratigraphy. A fraction of the site will be excavated through test trenches, the location of which have been informed by a Geophysical Survey carried out at the site in October 2015,” it said.

An excavation team has been engaged by the Commission under the conditions of confidentiality and will not answer any queries on this work or any other aspects of the Commission's work.

“Residents and local groups are being informed of the impact of the planned excavation with assistance from Tuam Garda Station.

“The Commission is grateful to the Gardaí and Galway County Council, the owners of the site, for their assistance. Neither is in a position to answer questions on this or any other aspects of the Commission's work,” it added.

Speaking at the site today, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said the work carried out by Catherine Corless on the Tuam home  had been significant is setting up the inquiry.

She said she had met the Commission on a number of occasions and had received an interim report into the matter.

“I have met the Commission a couple of times now and I do believe they have taken a very very serious approach to their work,” she said.

Referencing the large number of people who have come forward to give evidence, Ms Zappone said

“I do feel in terms of the job they were given it’s much bigger than they had anticipated but in terms of my meetings with them they are the people who bring the experience with them in order to do the best job possible,” she said.

Minister Zappone said the Commission had “clearly explained” it was on target to deliver the final report by February 2018.

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