Tuam Mother and Baby Home

  • Children's Minister Katherine Zappone wants the Vatican to contribute up to €2.5m as part reparation for its role in the Tuam mother and baby home scandal, according to today’s Irish Independent.

    In a two-page letter to Pope Francis, the minister did not ask for a specific sum ,but rather asked the Church to "contribute substantially" to one of five potential options for dealing with the Tuam home's legacy.

    The Government is said to be weeks away from deciding on the future of the Tuam site, with options ranging from a simple memorial to a full-scale forensic and archaeological excavation.

    The latter could cost between €3m and €5m and involve the exhumation of close to 800 remains over a two-year period.

    Minister Zappone briefed the pontiff on the story ofTuam in Italian when they met at Áras an Uachtaráin on Saturday last.

    She then handed over a letter which gave greater detail about the hundreds of "little ones whose remains are in a sewage system".

    The memo also asked that the Church contributes to the cost of giving the babies some "dignity in death".

    Although she didn't put a figure on her demand, the Irish Independent understands she wants at least half of the costs to be covered by the Catholic Church.

  • The Children's Minister is to visit Tuam later today.

    She is expected to hear the views of people on the future of the site of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    Katherine Zappone says she's preparing to make a recommendation to Government on the future of children's remains and the site and  says the consultation by Galway County Council as well as legal and expert advice will help inform her decision.

    However, she has stated that all voices must be given an opportunity to be heard.

  • The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is to seek an extension of one year before publishing its final report, which was due next month.

    The Irish Times reports the request for an extension has gone to the Government and is expected to be discussed by the Cabinet next week.

    It is believed the request is a result of the workload involved in investigating such institutions over the period from 1922 to 1998.

    The commission was set up following revelations in 2014 by local historian Catherine Corless about the deaths of almost 800 children at the Tuam mother-and-baby home.

    Its remit was extended to examine the records of and practices at an additional 13 such homes as well as four county homes.

    The commission was originally due to publish its final report last February but it was granted a one-year extension by the Government.

    In an interim report in 2017, the commission said “significant quantities of human remains have been discovered in at least 17 of the 20 underground chambers which were examined” at the Tuam site.


  • Pope Francis said last night he would “study” a memo given to him by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone about the Tuam mother-and-baby home. That’s according to today’s Irish Times.

    “It touched my heart, that is why I wanted to repeat it during my speech [at Dublin Castle],” he told journalists on the plane back to Rome following a 32-hour visit to Ireland. On Saturday the Minister told him of the case involving more than 700 babies buried in a septic tank in Tuam.

    Pope Francis said the proposal to ask for forgiveness during the Mass at Dublin’s Phoenix Park came from meeting survivors. They had expressed shock he knew nothing of Magdalene laundries and mother-and-baby homes.

    The pope told reporters last night: “I had never heard of these mothers, they call it the laundromat of women where an unwed woman is pregnant and goes into these hospitals, I don’t know what they call them, schools, run by the nuns and then they gave children to the people in adoption.”

    “It was for me painful [to hear] but with the awareness that I have could help clear these things up.”

    He was speaking at the end of his visit to Ireland during which he publicly raised the issue of abuse on four occasions.

    Francis found “much faith in Ireland. Irish people suffered for scandals, but there is faith. People can distinguish from truth and half truths. It is in process of healing... but Irish people have faith, lots of faith,” he said last night.

    Some 500,000 people were expected at the Phoenix Park Mass but the crowd appeared far smaller and is being estimated this morning as under 200,000. Medical director of the site field hospital Dr Patrick Plunkett said he believed 130,000 people attended.

     Asked about LGBT issues, the pope said: “What do I say to a father if the son or daughter has this tendency. Pray, don’t condemn. Understand, make space to let them express themselves,” he said. “ Silence is not a remedy.”

    Francis also met Ireland’s Catholic bishops yesterday and told them they must address clerical child sex abuse with honesty and courage.

    Last night he confirmed he had read the communiqué in which a retired Vatican diplomat called on him to resign, claiming he was aware of abuse allegations against a prominent church figure from 2013 but failed to act. “I believe the communiqué speaks for itself,” the pope said.

  • Pressure is building on the Bon Secours Sisters to increase its contribution towards the cost of exhuming and identifying the remains of children buried at the Tuam mother and baby home.  

    According to today’s Irish Independent, company accounts reveal that the order receives almost €4m annually from the private hospital group bearing its name for the leasing of buildings and interest on loans.


    The Irish Independent reports that the hospital group itself, Bon Secours Health System Ltd posted profits of €2m last year and €5.38m in 2016.

    It is currently in the middle of expanding its facilities.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has revealed that a higher contribution was sought from the Bon Secours Sisters by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone during negotiations earlier this year.

    The remains of hundreds of young children are feared buried in the former home’s sewage system and are set to be exhumed and identified as part of a major project, expected to cost between €6m and €13m.

    The €2.5m offer has been heavily criticised by historian Catherine Corless, whose work helped to expose the scandal. She told the Irish Independent that Bon Secours was a very wealthy organisation that could well afford to cover the whole cost of the project.

    Although t he €2.5m offer has been accepted in principle by Government, it is thought the issue will be revisited once the Commission of Investigation into the Mother and Baby Home reports next February.

    The Bon Secours Sisters would not comment to the paper on whether it intends to revisit the offer made.

    In a statement the order said that, at a meeting in September, Minister Zappone outlined that although it had not been established what happened in Tuam, and there was no legal or financial liability applying, she was it to make a contribution towards the cost of dealing with the remains.

    The statement says that the Sisters considered the request and decided they would make a contribution. They offered one sum and it was deemed too low. They offered a second sum and it was accepted.

  • A report focusing on the burial arrangements of those who died in Mother and Baby Homes has been submitted to the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs.

    A statement from Katherine Zappone says this fifth report will inform the legislation required to allow for the excavation and exhumation at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    The excavation of the Tuam site is expected to begin later this year as long as the Government passes the necessary legislation required to allow it.

    The 2017 inquiry into mother and baby homes confirmed that 'significant quantities' of human remains had been found on the Bon Secours site.

    The report suggested that almost 800 children may have been buried there between 1925 and 1961.

    The excavations will be the first of their kind here, with DNA experts and forensic archaeologists likely to be drafted in from outside the country.

    In today's statement, Minister Katherine Zappone said she's seeking formal Government approval to publish this report as soon as possible.


  • The site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, is to be fully excavated and forensically examined.

    The government decided a full excavation was the best way forward at its cabinet meeting this morning.

    A forensic examination will aim to identify the remains of all children buried at the site.

    Arrangements for reburial or memorialisation of those children will then be arranged.

    Children's Minister Katherine Zappone says every reasonable effort will be made to locate and recover the remains of all children buried in Tuam and her Department will lead the process.

  • 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.






  • Survivors and family members of the 800  ‘Tuam babies’ warned yesterday that the Irish authorities can expect public protests if they fail to carry out a full forensic excavation, exhumation, and DNA testing at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home in Co Galway.

    According to today’s Irish times, the survivors were given a special welcome at the seventh annual flower-laying ceremony to remember the women of the Magdalene Laundry in Galway City.

    The names of all of the former Magdalene Laundry detainees buried at Bohermore Cemetery were read out during the ceremony attended by former residents and members of their extended families.

    Campaigners on behalf of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home families said there were clear parallels between their search for justice and that of the survivors of the Magdalene Laundries and other institutions throughout the country.

    Some mothers from the Tuam home were incarcerated in the Galway city centre laundry after having their children taken from them.

    Confirmation that the bodies of babies were contained in a mass grave in Tuam, some at the site of a disused septic tank, generated headlines across the globe last year.

    But now campaigners are fearful that they will be denied justice, or full knowledge of what happened to the babies, on the basis of the cost involved.

    Galway County Council is currently seeking submissions from members of the public regarding what to do with the site.

    The deadline for submissions is this Thursday, March 16th.

    Campaigners are concerned that the local authority may decide to put a memorial in place at the site of the former septic tank rather than the more costly option of a thorough examination.

  • The women who brought global attention to the Tuam Mother and Baby home will today receive an honorary patronage from the Trinity College Philosophical Society.

    Thusly been bestowed on John B Yeats, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker will now extend to Anna Corrigan who investigated her mother's experience in the home, and Irish Daily Mail journalist Alison O'Reilly who broke the story.

    The announcement comes just days after confirmation that the site where childrens' remains were discovered, will be fully excavated and forensically examined.

  • 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.

  • Historian Catherine Corless has again appealed to President Michael D Higgins to visit Tuam as a gesture of solidarity with the infants buried in the former Mother and Baby Home and its survivors.

    Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms Corless said the President had so far failed to take up an invitation to visit.

    However, a spokesman for Mr Higgins responded and said: "We have no record of any invitations for the President to visit the site."

    He added that the President has also been constrained by legal considerations.

    Catherine Corless told Midwest News today that the President certainly was invited in the past to visit the site.

  • 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...

  • The publication yesterday of the contents of a letter by Minister Katherine Zappone, which she handed to the Pope at the weekend was a publicity stunt, according to a statement today from Tuam Home Survivors Network.

    Kevin Hegarty of the Network told Midwest News today that the most senior member of the government involved in the Tuam case for over two years, went running to the Pope on Saturday with a letter asking him to sort out the Tuam situation for this country.

    Minister  Zappone said she told the pontiff that she hopes the Catholic Church will make reparation to the women and babies who lived in the Co Galway home, where the remains of 796 infants were buried in a septic tank.

    Mr Hegarty says that Minister Zappone wrote in a preamble to the letter that she handed Pope Francis : I am the Minister responsible for the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    He describes that as “an absurd statement”. Describing Minister Zappone instead as “merely the Minister to which the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes is to report. In a different country, such a Commission would be reporting to a Justice Minister”.


    Tuam Home Survivors Network say they are devastated at the further one year extension announced this week by Minister Zappone, extended to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

    Secretary of the network, Breeda Murphy, says that a year delay for a person in their eighties now waiting on that report, and who’s experience in a Mother and Baby Home has had a lifelong impact on their lives, is a very long time.

    The Tuam Home Survivors Network had to read in the paper earlier this month that the Commission of Investigation was likely to be given a year extension, but was not informed of the delay directly from the Minister or her Department, Ms Murphy say.

    In addition, she says even when that report is concluded it is looking at the site and what happened in Tuam, but it does not deal with the effects on the lives of its survivors.

    Speaking to Midwest News Breeda says that an interim report on the status of survivors of Tuam’s Mother and Baby home is urgently required now, in the short term,  and she has been explaining the impact of the year extension to the Commission of Investigation and how it was announced earlier this week, on former residents of Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home.

  • Tuam Home Survivors Network has issued a statement  saying the Report of the so-called ''Consultative process' on the future of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home site is worthless, designed to delay or prevent what clearly requires to be done.

    It says the report commissioned by Minister Zappone, carried out by Galway County Council and published on Friday last “seeks to further the myth that the Minister and Government in general has the power to decide the future of the mass grave at Tuam”.

    The statement continues

    “The only person or body which has jurisdiction over the site of the Tuam mass grave is the Coroner for North Galway.  The fact that Coroner has to date failed to convene an Inquest into the deaths of 796 children at the former Home, does not confer any powers on the Minister or Government to deal with the issue.

    Where the local Coroner either refuses or fails to act, the onus falls on the Attorney General, to appoint another Coroner pursuant to s24 of the Coroner's Act 1962.

    The Minister's actions to date have done nothing but delay the inevitable, by claiming for herself, powers she does not have. She continues to subvert not merely the wishes of survivors and their families, but to brush aside the obligations of the State by a means of a local 'popular vote' on the future of the site.

    To be clear, Tuam is a mass grave of almost 800 children. The only moral and legal way to deal with that reality is for an Inquest to be convened and a full excavation ordered, to allow as far as forensic science will permit, the causes of death in those children to be established.   The Minister's actions to date have done nothing but distract from and obstruct that process.



  • A group representing survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home say they have communicated without any doubt to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, what they believe should happen with the site of the former home.

    Tuam Home Survivors Network was responding to the news that Minister Zappone is to visit Tuam on Monday evening next.

    In a statement Minister Zappone said during the visit she will take time listening to the views of people on the future of the site of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    The Minister will hold a meeting at 7pm at the Ard Rí House Hotel, Milltown Road, Tuam, Co. Galway next Monday.

    Minister Zappone has extended an invitation to all those who believe they have yet to be heard and those who wish to support previously express views, to attend.

    However a spokesperson for Tuam Home Survivors Network told Midwest News that they have already made it very clear that they believe that the remains need to be recovered from the site, DNA recorded and stored in a database that will be made available and after these steps have been followed, the site can become a memorial to the lives lost there and those who survived the institution.

    Breeda Murphy said prior to full excavation and retrieval with dignity, any talk of memorialisation is premature.

  • A voluntary scheme is to be introduced so DNA from Tuam Mother and Baby Home survivors can be matched with juvenile remains.

    A family law expert in a published report yesterday said this would not breach data-protection laws.

    Survivors want their DNA samples to be collected so human remains can be returned to relatives for dignified burials.

    Fianna Fáil's Spokesperson for Children, Galway East deputy Anne Rabbitte, says the scheme would be easy to operate.

    However, Tuam Home Survivor’s Network believethe report and its conclusion were obvious and did not require a report to state the same. In a statement to Midwest News the Network says

    We note the publication of the Report commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs dealing with the creation of a DNA database from family members of children believed to be buried in waste/sewerage tanks at the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

    This is the second Report completed by Dr Geoffrey Shannon at the request of Minister Zappone and like the first, which dealt with the legality of the manner in which the dead bodies of the Tuam children were treated, it is scholarly, comprehensive and cogent.

    In respect of the first Report, it did not require the research of a distinguished lawyer to inform us that the disposal of some 800 children in a cess-pit was not simply illegal but criminal.

    It did not require the second Report to confirm that the voluntary provision of DNA by family members of those lying in the Tuam pit is unquestionably legal.

    In countries with a properly functioning Justice system, incorporating a Coroners Service performing its statutory duty, the use of DNA is part of the day to day work of such bodies.

    Only a duly convened inquest into the death of each child who died in the Tuam institution, to determine the cause of death of each child, will meet the requirements of the law and humanity.


  • Tuam Home Survivors' Network, representing survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and their families have today urged the Government to begin collecting their DNA samples immediately. 

    This work, they say, should proceed in a way that will be of greatest benefit to the greatest number of survivors, victims and families.  For this to be achieved, as much information as possible should be obtained from each sample of human remains. 

    The Networks insists that there is a certain urgency to this process given age profile and health status of the survivors and their families.  

    Results from what they describe as an “ageing and in, some cases, frail membership” should be banked to eliminate any delay in returning human remains to identifiable relatives for dignified burials.