The Taoiseach has described as "truly appalling" the confirmation that significant quantities of human remains were found at the site of a former mother-and-baby home in Tuam in Co Galway.
Speaking in Castlebar, Enda Kenny said the babies of single mothers involved had been treated like "some kind of sub-species".
He pointed out that this was not something that happened centuries
ago in the dawn of history, but something that happened "in our own
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said the
discovery is an infinitely sad reminder of an Ireland that was a "very
harsh, harsh place" for women and their babies.
She said it shows the tortured relationship the State and church had
with pregnant women, saying "it is a tragedy that we are now facing in
The Taoiseach said that following the latest update from the Mother
and Baby Home Commission of Investigation, the inquiry needed to proceed
as quickly, effectively and sensitively as possible.
Mr Kenny said the local coroner and everyone else involved had to now
see how best to progress the investigation relating to Tuam and
possibly other locations.
He said Minister for Children
Katherine Zappone was liaising with the commission in this regard and if
its terms of reference needed to be extended then this would happen.
The Taoiseach said the discovery of remains amounted to a horrendous
situation for those whose siblings had died in the former
mother-and-baby home, and added that questions remained as to what
needed to be done to identify the remains.
Mr Kenny said this was one of a number of issues that had been left lying in the shadows for many years.
He had been personally shocked by the revelations from the commission
and he said the findings were all the more poignant given the fact that
many people would have passed by the location where the remains were
found over recent decades.
He commended the work of Tuam historian Catherine Corless, who brought the issue to the fore in recent years.
Mr Kenny said he was glad that the scale of what had happened in Tuam was beginning to come to light.
Meanwhile, director of DNA at Forensic Science Ireland Dr Geraldine
O'Donnell said any decision to exhume the remains would result in a
process that would take a long time and be very costly.
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, she said there were issues to be agreed for society in general at an ethical level.
If the exhumation went ahead, she said work could be done gathering samples from living relatives.
Asked if it was likely that Forensic Science Ireland would be
involved, Dr O'Donnell said the coroner in Galway would make the initial
decision, which would then be referred to An Garda Síochána,
which might then ask for their assistance.