Saturday 23 June 2018

New site in Tuam to be excavated for 'unmarked children's graves' - reports

The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Galway. Photo: PA
The site of a mass grave for children who died in the Tuam Mother and Baby Home in Galway. Photo: PA Newsdesk Newsdesk

A site in the Galway town of Tuam is to be excavated to find out if an unmarked children's grave is on the site, according to reports.

A ground-penetrating scan, similar to the one carried out on the town's mother and baby home, is due to be carried out on the grounds of the former religious-run Grove Hospital in the town.

The HSE bought the former site, previously owned by the Bon Secours nuns, in 2001 and last year they sought permission to develop a mental health facility here.

However, the Irish Daily Mail is reporting that a group of people who believe the site may contain human remains have appealed the case to An Bord Pleanála.

According to  Freedom of Information (FOI) documents released to the newspaper, An Bord Pleanála ruled that the conditions for planning permission include an excavation at the site.

The planning document, dated July 31, states the developer must facilitate the "preservation, recording and protection of archaeological materials or features that may exist within the site".

The document also states that a '"suitably qualified archaeologist" should be employed to monitor all investigation works and to "secure the preservation and protection of any remains that may exist" there.

In March Children's Minister Katherine Zappone confirmed that significant quantities of human remains had been discovered at a Galway site excavated by the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.

The Commission of Investigation is currently probing how unmarried mothers and their babies were treated between 1922 and 1998 at 18 State-linked religious institutions.

A spokesperson for the HSE said they had recently received planning permission from an Bord Pleanala "for the part demolition, refurbishment and remodelling of the Grove Hospital, along with new extensions and site works to provide a Mental Health facility and Early Intervention and Disability service facility for HSE West".

The statement continued: "There will be no works carried out at the site referred to as Garden Area/Former Nuns’ burial site, which is delineated by a fence/hedging.  This area is outside the redline boundary of the proposed Community Mental Health Centre site and will be protected during any construction works."

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