Wednesday 23 January 2019

'It was more of an acknowledgement' - Taoiseach reacts to Pope's letter on Tuam mother and baby home

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Pope Francis in August, during his visit to Dublin Castle. Picture: Arthur Carron
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Pope Francis in August, during his visit to Dublin Castle. Picture: Arthur Carron
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has labelled the Pope’s letter to Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone about the Tuam Mother and Baby Home as an “acknowledgement” instead of a response.

In a letter to the Children’s Minister, Pope Francis put pressure on religious orders to accept responsibility for the horrific treatment of children who died in Irish mother and baby homes.

He also suggested the Government should accept some responsibility for its role in the scandal.

Responding to the Pontiff’s letter in the Dáil today, Mr Varadkar said: “It was more of an acknowledgement, I think, than a substantive response.

“Minister Zappone has engaged with the religious order that run and owned Tuam and they have agreed to make a financial contribution to the excavation and also have agreed to help her on getting the commission get to the facts on what happened in that particular mother and baby home."

The Pope described the scandal as a “sad situation” after Ms Zappone called on him to “contribute substantially” to the costs of a Commission of Investigation in to the discovery of children's remains in a disused septic tank linked to the Bon Secours congregation in Tuam.

The religious order offered €2.5m towards the cost of excavating the site.

Ms Zappone has estimated the cost of excavating the entire site at between €6m and €13m. The Government has asked the Bon Secours order for a larger financial contribution to cost of removing the remains.

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