€5m excavation of Tuam site on cards
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone has published a report detailing five potential options for dealing with the future of the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.
The report, carried out by a group of technical experts, proposes how to manage the site and respond to the discovery of infant remains.
The options include a full forensic and archaeological excavation of the full and surrounding site at a cost of between €3m and €5m.
This process would take between 12 and 24 months and involve the exhumation of remains and the excavation of a 0.4 hectare site.
According to the document, this option is the most "intrusive" and would cause the most "disruption".
Two other options include scaled-down excavation works, which would be carried out in a more immediate fashion and at a smaller cost.
The paper also proposes the recovery of human remains already identified and, as a separate option, the returning of the site to being managed as a memorial with no further excavation. This option is proposed to cost between €100,000 and €500,000.
Ms Zappone is understood to have an open mind in relation to all the options contained in the paper.
The expert group was set up following the publication of research by historian Catherine Corless, which claimed that the remains of 800 babies were buried at the site. The paper will now be sent out for public consultation before a final option is agreed by Cabinet.
Aside from the five options, the paper states that identification of the remains will be "extremely difficult".
This is because of issues pertaining to DNA samples.
The consultation will be facilitated by Galway County Council.