Monday 21 August 2017

Experts to analyse remains at Tuam

Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone
Children and Youth Affairs Minister Katherine Zappone
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Experts are to analyse whether there is any possibility of identifying the remains of babies buried at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said she hopes there is a "real possibility" that bodies can by identified but said the process is "very complicated".

The minister has appointed forensic archaeologist Niamh McCullough to lead a team of international experts in juvenile osteoarchaeology, forensic anthropology and DNA analysis. It is believed hundreds of dead babies were buried in a sewage system at the Tuam site by nuns between 1925 and 1961.

Ms Zappone told the Dáil the type of work to be carried out in the coming months has not been done anywhere else in the world.

She said decisions will have to be taken as to whether the bodies should be exhumed or whether the site should be preserved in its current state.

"My preference, which I know is shared by most people, is to encourage and support efforts to build towards a consensus on the next steps.

"We can only do this with full knowledge, or at least as much knowledge and information as we can garner," Ms Zappone said.

"If there is a consensus that we should recover the infant remains and try to identify them, we need to know if this is possible. We have made too many decisions in this country in the dark and we are not going to do that again in relation to Tuam."

The minister also announced her intention to invite the UN's special rapporteur on the promotion of truth, reparation and guarantee of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, to visit Ireland in the coming months.

"He could help ensure that we are taking the right approach in terms of our response into the future," she said.

Ms McCullough is providing an initial technical report to the Government by the end of June and a more detailed report on the options for the future by the end of September.

Irish Independent

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