The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone published the Report of the Expert Technical Group, Options and Appropriate Courses of Action available to Government at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home, Tuam, Co. Galway on 12th December 2017.
The Report of the Expert Technical Group identified five possible options for managing the Tuam site and for appropriately responding to the discovery of infant remains interred at Tuam. These are:
- Exhumation of known human remains.
- Forensic excavation and recovery of known human remains.
- Forensic excavation and recovery of known human remains with further evaluation / excavation of other areas of interest.
- Forensic excavation of the total available area
Galway County Council is facilitating a public consultation process on the five options outlined by the Expert Technical Group, so that the Inter-Departmental Group on the process can submit proposals to the government.
Justice for Magdalenes Research (JFMR) and Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) have compiled a template document to assist those who wish to send a submission to Galway County Council and Minister Zappone. The template can be downloaded here.PLEASE NOTE THE CLOSING DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS 4PM ON FRIDAY, 16TH MARCH 2018
IMPORTANT: JFMR and ARA are advocating that interested parties choose option (5): ‘Forensic excavation of the total available area’, and below, we outline our reasons for doing so.
On March 3rd, 2017, Minister Katherine Zappone, TD, called for a ‘Transitional Justice’ approach to dealing with the legacy of Ireland's history on institutional abuse. Transitional Justice is comprised of four central tenets: justice, compensation, truth-telling, and guarantees of non-recurrence. We believe that option (5), i.e., forensic excavation of the total available area is the most appropriate choice. This should be followed by an exhumation, and dignified re-internment and appropriate memorialisation of all the infant remains located at the site. Anything less is inconsistent with an attempt to effect Transitional Justice for the children buried at the Tuam Home, their surviving family members, and Irish society as a whole. There can be no ‘truth-telling’ about Tuam in the absence a forensic excavation. And, there can be no guarantee of non-recurrence in the absence of the truth: the complete truth as to how many babies are buried at the site.
The forensic excavation should also be conducted in conjunction with a complete investigation into burial and adoption practices at Tuam, particularly if fewer than 796 human remains are located. All of the above can be done in a dignified and respectful manner. Cost should not be a consideration. The State and Galway Co. Council shirked on properly funding the Tuam home during its years of operation. The least we owe to the infants buried at Tuam is to spend whatever it cost to ascertain the truth.
While option (5) is applicable in the context of Tuam, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not appropriate. The abuse of Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children was not just confined to Tuam, and it is imperative that Minister for Children, Katherine Zappone TD should ensure that the burial (and adoption) practices at other institutions are given the same level of consideration and consultation as Tuam.
Finally, under no circumstances should any memorial erected at Tuam or any other institution be considered an end to the matter. The most fitting memorial of all would be to grant adopted and boarded out people automatic access to their full, unredacted adoption records, and the opening of all administrative files relating to the institutions, agencies and individuals which dealt with Ireland’s unmarried mothers and their children.