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Thursday 21 August 2014

Diarmuid Martin calls for inquiry after Tuam baby scandal

Bishop warns that only independent inquiry led by a senior judicial figure can provide the answers

Ralph Riegel

Published 08/06/2014 | 18:27

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Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin during the Way of the Cross Ceremony  at the  Phoenix Park , Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin during the Way of the Cross Ceremony at the Phoenix Park , Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

ARCHBISHOP of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin has warned that only an independent inquiry led by a senior judicial figure can provide the answers required from Ireland’s escalating mother and baby home scandal.

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The move will be confirmed once gardai have concluded preliminary investigations into claims 796 babies were buried in a septic tank near the Tuam, Co Galway home run by the Bon Secours nuns.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has appointed two senior gardai and they will immediately begin work examining the Tuam mass grave claims.

The operation of mother and baby homes from the 1920s to 1960s is regarded as the last of Ireland’s Church-linked scandals.

Dr Martin warned that it was vital for modern Irish society the issue be independently investigated with controversial issues such as secret adoptions and vaccine trials included.

“The only way we will come out of this particular period of our history is when the truth comes out,” he said.

“With the (Judge Yvonne) Murphy Commission on child sex abuse in (the Archdiocese of) Dublin, that was my policy – provide as much information as possible into a properly constructed commission.”

“The indications are that if something happened in Tuam, it probably happened in other mother and baby homes around the country.

“That is why I believe that we need a full bodied investigation. There is no point in investigating just what happened in Tuam and then next year finding out more.”

Dr Martin said the commission of inquiry needed to be both powerful and independent.

“We have to look at the whole culture of mother and baby homes. There is talk about medical experiments there, we need to look at the question of adoption…there are very complicated and very sensitive issues.”

“I would say it is very important that any commission set up has full judicial powers. Otherwise you are going to get yourself entangled in a whole series of problems of data protection and so on,” he told RTE.

The Tuam mass grave has now become a lightning rod for a mother and baby home campaign that was largely ignored for the past 20 years.

Ground radar analysis has been conducted at Tuam and it identified “two anomalies.”

These may represent mass burials.

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