Sunday, March 05, 2017

'Significant responsibility' on State following Tuam mass grave discovery - Minister Coveney

Historian Catherine Corless at the burial ground Minister Simon Coveney said there is a "significant responsibility" on the State following the discovery of the mass grave of babies in Tuam, Co Galway. 

The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government also said garda involvement in the investigation into the remains at the site of the former mother and baby home cannot be ruled out. 

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Marian Finucane Show, Minister Coveney said it was "difficult to see" why gardaí would not be involved. 

"I mean you look at the way in which children's bodies were literally discarded in the way what they were," he said. 

"Seventeen of the 20 chambers had remains in them. 
 
"It's hard to see that there wouldn't be gardaí involved in the case. 

"People shouldn't only be talking about the Bon Secours sisters, although obviously they do have questions to answer, but this was a site that was owned by the State," he continued.
"And it is still owned by Galway County Council. 

"So there is a significant responsibility on the State, not just the Bons Secours sisters."

It was revealed on Friday that significant quantities of human remains were discovered at the site of the former St Mary's Mother and Baby Home, an institution where unmarried pregnant women were sent to give birth, in Tuam, Co Galway.

The remains were discovered in structures which appear to be related to the treatment of sewage or waste water, by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission. 

The Commission described itself as "shocked" by the discovery. "These remains involved a number of individuals with age-at-death ranges from approximately 35 foetal weeks to 2-3 years," it said.

The Bon Secours Sisters would not comment on the find, which Minister for Children Katherine Zappone described as "disturbing". 

An information meeting for the residents of the Tobar Jarlath and Dublin Road estates in Tuam was called at short notice following the news. 

Cllr Peter Roche confirmed that there are concerns that the site could stretch under some private homes. "[Residents] are deeply traumatised, because the suspicions they had for many years were confirmed," he said.

The find has vindicated the research of amateur historian Catherine Corless, whose work helped lead to the setting-up of the Commission.

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