Catherine Corless

  • “Deflated, disappointed and confused” is how Tuam based historian Catherine Corless described her reaction to yesterday’s webinar where survivors of Mother And Baby Homes got their first glance at the 3000 page Commission Report into Mother and Baby Homes.

    Over the past five years, the commission has been establishing what occurred in 14 mother-and-baby homes and four county homes. The institutions, which are spread across the country, operated between the 1920s and the 1990s.

    She told Midwest News today that many of the 500 participants in the webinar afterwards expressed similar reactions to her, after listening to The Taoiseach Micheal Martin and the Minister for Children Roderic O’Connor.

    She described the tone of the Taoiseach’s address as “helplessness” and his apology appeared to lean on “our collective” responsibility for what happened to 56,000 women and 57,000 children who passed through these institutions over 70 years. Catherine says the apology needs to be substantially more specific, and in addition what happens now to the survivors of these institutions needs to be immediate, not long term aspirations.

    Survivors want access to their records, but that is not forthcoming she says, from what she has read so far in this extensive Report.

    Catherine spoke to Midwest News today about her reaction to this mammoth Report

  • The Taoiseach says digging at the site of the mother-and-baby home in Tuam won't start until the end of next year, as legislation is needed before work can begin.

    In October, cabinet approved proposals by Children's Minister Katherine Zappone to excavate the site, after the work of historian, Catherine Corless, uncovered that 7-hundred-and-96 babies were buried there in an unmarked grave.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says that measures need to be put in place to allow the government excavate the property.

  • It has emerged that hundreds of survivors’ testimony was not used by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, and this is further heartache for survivors and their families, according to Tuam historian Catherine Corless.

    Yesterday, at an online lecture in Oxford University on the Irish Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, Professor Mary Daly, one of the commissioners involved in the investigation admitted the none use of survivors’ testimony in the final report.

    None of the three commissioners involved in the Commission of investigation had, until yesterday spoken at any public event about their work or much-criticised final report since it was published in January.

    Previous invitations to the commissioners to appear before the Oireachtas Children’s Committee were turned down.

    Professor Daly said yesterday that the Commission was limited in what it could do due to the Terms of Reference it had to operate under. She later acknowledged that the Commission essentially discounted the evidence given by hundreds of survivors to the Confidential Committee.

    Catherine Corless says the Commission took 6 years to publish its findings and now to have it confirmed that it dismissed the evidence given to it in good faith by up to 500 survivors, is devastating.

    She has been speaking to Midwest News Editor Teresa O’Malley...

     

     

  • The Government has agreed to draft new laws allowing for the excavation of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Co. Galway.

    The legislation will also allow for the remains to be exhumed and DNA testing to be carried out to try and identify the babies.

    It's been confirmed the Sisters of Bon Secours will pay 2.5 million euro towards the cost - but the full cost could be up to 13 million.

    Tuam-based historian Catherine Corless, whose research led to the discovery of the children's remains at the site in Tuam, has welcomed today's announcement that legislation will now be drafted to excavate the former Mother & Baby Home site in Tuam.....

  • Tuam historian Catherine Corless has criticised the Government for failing to commit to excavation, exhumation, and DNA testing of the children’s remains found at the site of the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    It’s now a year since the Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone confirmed that a substantial amount of children’s human remains had been discovered at the Tuam site.

    An expert group published its report in December outlining five possible options on how the situation should be handled.

    These ranged from no further investigate work at the site and that it be turned into a memorial, to exhuming the human remains and burying them elsewhere.

    A consultation process is now underway, and Galway County Council has arranged an independent facilitator to meet with locals in Tuam tomorrow and Friday as part of this process.

    Submissions can also be made online before 16th March, but historian Catherine Corless has objected to the voting system put in place by Galway County Council, where people can indicate their preferred option.

    Speaking to Midwest News, Catherine Corless said the least that should be done is that the children’s remains be exhumed and buried in a proper burial ground.

    She says it’s disappointing that so little has happened over the past year, despite the public outcry at the time.

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    Historian Catherine Corless says religious orders should be forced to pay to help excavate possible mass graves at mother and baby homes.

    The government is bringing forward a bill which would allow the remains of children who died at the homes to be exhumed.

    Excavations could be carried out at sites such as Tuam, where it's believed almost 800 babies are buried.

    Speaking at an Oireachtas Committee, Ms Corless says the Bon Secours nuns, which ran the Tuam home, should pay:

     

     

     

  • Tuam historian  Catherine Corless has told TDs and Senators that rodents have gnawed on the remains of children buried at the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    Ms Corless is addressing the Oireachtas Children's Committee, which is today examining a new Bill which could allow for the remains of mass graves at the institutions to be exhumed.

    It's estimated the remains of up to 800 children and babies were buried at the home in Tuam, and Catherine Corless claims their remains are being damaged by weather and rodents....

  • Tuam historian and campaigner Catherine Corless has described as “brilliant” the commitment from the Children’s Minister that legislation will be brought forward this month for the reburial of babies from the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    The Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman made the promise at this week’s Oireachtas Committee Meeting of Children.

    It comes just days after the long awaited  Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes Report was submitted to government last week and it’s expected to be made public early next year.

    Minister Gorman has now stated that he will bring a memo before cabinet this month to introduce legislation for the reburials at Tuam. It will mean that a dedicated agency will be set up for a limited period of time to undertake excavations, exhumations, DNA identifications and reburials.

    It’s understood that the new legislation will allow for similar excavations and reburials to occur at other Mother and Baby Home sites around the country.

    Speaking to Midwest News today Catherine said they were at the Oireachtas stage last January with this legislation, but the government was dissolved before it was enacted. She explained that it has been a six year battle to get to this stage and said she wont give up until the babies are in marked graves.

  • No member of the Tuam Home Survivors Network was extended an invitation to attend a civil reception in Dublin this Saturday afternoon for the Visit of Pope Francis, despite a request by historian Catherine Corless  to allow a member of the Network take her place on the guest list.

    Catherine Corless, whose work uncovered details of the deaths of close to 800 babies at the former Tuam Mothers and Baby home, confirmed today that she declined an invitation from the Taoiseach's Office to attend the civil reception in Dublin Castle.

    She told Midwest News that she had asked that a member of the Survivors Network take her place, but said that request was refused and added it would have meant a lot to those affected.

    Catherine explained that she had refused the Taoiseach’s invitation as she believes her place is at the planned protest in Tuam on Sunday at 3pm at the site where it is suspected that 796 babies are buried.

    She also wrote to the Vatican asking for Pope Francis to meet one of the survivors of the home but that request has not yielded any result.

  • Survivors and relatives of infants from the Tuam Mother and Baby Home are planning a vigil to coincide with the Pope’s Mass in Dublin.

    The vigil will take place in Tuam on Sunday week, to coincide with the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park.

    Historian Catherine Corless will join relatives at the vigil.

    Ms Corless told today’s Irish Times that Pope Francis needs to make a public statement saying he is sorry for what was done in the name of the church in the past, rather than meeting with victims in private.

    Ms Corless traced the death certificates for 796 infants at the former home in Tuam.

    The State’s Commission of Investigation confirmed in March 2017 that it had discovered significant quantities of infant bone at the Tuam site.

    Ms Corless and members of the Tuam Babies Family Group will light candles and place a special sculpture made by Flemish women in the shape of a baptismal font at the grave site of the former Bon Secours home.

    They will also read out the names of those who are believed to have been buried there.

    The event has been timed to coincide with the Pope’s Mass in Dublin. He is also due to spend 55 minutes at Knock Shrine that morning. Ms Corless said she would not be travelling to Knock. She said there had been a groundswell of support for the Tuam event.

    Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said a recommendation on the future of the burial site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam is expected to be announced in early autumn.

     

     

     

     

     

  • At 1.30 this afternoon survivors of Mother and Baby Homes will get their first glance at the long-awaited report by the Commission of Investigation into the institutions.

    The survivors and supporters will be joined by the Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman through a webinar meeting, as Covid 19 restrictions prevent an actual meeting and after that they will get access online to the extensive report.

    Before that, Minister O'Gorman will seek approval from Cabinet for the publication of the Report.

    Over the past five years, the commission has been establishing what occurred in 14 mother-and-baby homes and four county homes.

    The institutions, which are spread across the country, operated between the 1920s and the 1990s.

    The Commission of Investigation was established after Galway based historian Catherine Corless discovered death certificates for almost 800 infants at a home run by the Bon Secours Sisters in Tuam. However, she discovered there were no burial records.

    Public outcry resulted in a Commission of Investigation being established by the then minister for children Charlie Flanagan.

    In 2015, it was given the task of investigating and reporting on what occurred in 18 institutions across the Country, including Tuam.

    Catherine told Midwest News this morning that there is a level of anxiety among survivors ahead of this afternoon’s meeting. They hope, she explained, that the Report will provide the recognition they require about what happened to them and their mothers.

  • The failure of the Catholic Church to intervene in the controversy that continues over what should happen to the more than 800 infant remains, found buried in an unmarked grave in the grounds of the former Mothers and Babies Home in Tuam has been highlighted today by campaigner and historian Catherine Corless.

    Catherine was among a number of west of Ireland recipients last night of the 43rd annual Rehab National People of the Year Awards.

    She was recognised for her work in uncovering the secretive burials.

    Catherine took the opportunity last night, and again on Midwest News today, to highlight the need to have the remains exhumed and identified and buried in consecrated ground. She insists it would be part of the healing process for all of the families involved and said the only thing stopping a full exhumation is money.

     She said all of these children were baptised and she believes it's everyone's right to have a Christian burial and asked why the Church has not intervened in insisting for the same.

  • The final report into Mother and Baby homes has been delayed. 

     

    The report from the Commission of Investigation will now be submitted on June 26th. 

     

    The Department of Children says additional time is needed to deal with legal costs and for the Commission to transfer its records to the Minister. 

     

    The Commission was set up to provide a full account of what happened to women and children in these institutions over the decades. 

     

    Tuam historian Catherine Corless is disappointed that the victims affected by the report are being made wait yet another four months.

  • Tuam historian Catherine Corless is to receive an honorary degree from NUI Galway next month.

    In 2014, Ms Corless revealed that hundreds of babies and toddlers had been buried in unmarked graves at a former mother and baby home in Tuam.

    She's also known for her advocacy work on behalf of the survivors, and the children who lost their lives.

    Others to receive an honorary degree include musician Sharon Shannon and dementia activist, Helen Rochford Brennan.

     

  • Tuam historian Catherine Corless will be conferred with an honorary degree this afternoon at NUI Galway.

    Ms Corless, who campaigns on behalf of the survivors and the deceased of the former Tuam Mother & Baby Home, is one of four people receiving honorary degrees from the University this week, and will be conferred with a Doctor of Arts this afternoon.

    Tomorrow, musician Sharon Shannon will be conferred with a Doctor of Music.

    Helen Rochford-Brennan from Tubbercurry, an activist for people with dementia, and biodiversity campaigner Brendan Dunford of the Burren Life Project will be conferred with honorary degrees on Wednesday, during the Autumn conferring ceremonies at the University.

     

  • The latest DNA testing will be used to try to identify bodies buried at the site of the former Mother & Baby Home in Tuam.

     The Government yesterday confirmed that the area will be fully excavated, and a forensic examination will aim to identify the remains of all children buried at the site, while arrangements for reburial or memorialisation of the children will then be arranged.

    It's believed hundreds of bodies may be found at the site.

    The Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said she could not give a timeline for then work would start, as legislation needs to be passed to allow it to happen, adding that sich a task has never been undertaken or contemplated previously.

    The Bons Secours nuns, who ran the Tuam home, have offered to pay €2.5 million of the expected 6 to 13 million euro cost of the excavation.

    Minister Katherine Zappone says the Government has made this decision in the hope it will shed light on what happened and provide closure for families..

     

    Tuam historian Catherine Corless, whose research led to the discovery of the children's remains, says she's delighted that, of five options presented to Government for the Tuam site, they chose the option to fully excavate and forensically examine the area.

    Catherine Corless told Midwest News that this decision will be welcomed by survivors and the families of those involved...

  • Survivors and relatives of infants from the Tuam Mother and Baby Home say are standing together for the sake of the babies that have been buried in a sewage tank in Tuam, and are planning a vigil to coincide with the Pope’s Mass in Dublin.

    The vigil will take place in Tuam on Sunday week, to coincide with the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park.

    Historian Catherine Corless will join relatives at the vigil.

    Ms Corless traced the death certificates for 796 infants at the former home in Tuam.

    The State’s Commission of Investigation confirmed in March 2017 that it had discovered significant quantities of infant bone at the Tuam site.

    Ms Corless and members of the Tuam Babies Family Group will light candles and place a special sculpture made by Flemish women in the shape of a baptismal font at the grave site of the former Bon Secours home.

    They will also read out the names of those who are believed to have been buried there.

    The event has been timed to coincide with the Pope’s Mass in Dublin.

  • The 43rd annual Rehab National People of the Year Awards were presented last night at a special ceremony in the Mansion House in Dublin.

    West of Ireland groups and individuals featured strongly.

    Tuam based historian Catherine Corless was recognised for her work uncovering the secretive burial of hundreds of children at the Tuam mother and baby home.

    The people of Ballaghaderreen were declared Community Group of the Year for welcoming Syrian refugees to their town

    The Irish Coast Guard was  honoured, as were their heroic lost colleagues from helicopter Rescue 116 and the  community of Erris  who helped with the extensive search operation.

    While the Galway Senior All Ireland winning Hurling Team took the Sports Award at last night’s celebrations