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Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes: Fifth Interim Report published

17 April 2019

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The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, has today (17 April 2019) published the Fifth Interim Report from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

This Interim Report focuses on the burial arrangements in the mother and baby institutions being investigated by the Commission 

Below is the statement by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD on Wednesday 17 April 2019. The full report can be read here.

The Fifth Interim Report examines the burial arrangements in the institutions under investigation by the Commission. The report also examines the transfer of remains to educational institutions for the purpose of anatomical examination. Minister Zappone brought the report to Government yesterday (16 April 2019), securing approval for its publication. The report’s contents have been noted by Government and will be sent to the relevant agencies for further consideration. 

Responding to the report the Minister said “This is a significant piece of work from the Commission that addresses important issues relating to the burial arrangements at these institutions. The Commission is collating a huge amount of material and examining the matters before it in a way never before possible. This report reflects the sheer depth and complexity of the work the Commission is undertaking. I know that that many former residents and their family members have been patiently awaiting this report and believe that it will assist in bringing clarity to this matter”. 

The Commission has stated that it will include an analysis of the causes of deaths and the registration of deaths in its final report which is due by February 2020. 

The Commission has submitted this interim report to assist Government in implementing its agreed course of action to manage the juvenile remains interred at the site at Tuam, Co Galway. It is an interim report, compiled on the basis of information available at this time. It includes a series of detailed and complex technical reports which were sourced by the Commission from relevant experts to inform its investigations into the site of the former Home. 

The report makes a number of findings in relation to the burials at Tuam. The Commission states that it is clear that many of the children who died in the Tuam Home are buried in the underground chambers. The report states that these chambers were not a recognised burial ground or purpose built burial chamber and that it did not provide for the dignified interment of human remains.  

The Commission concludes that there is little basis for the theory that rather than having died, the children were ‘sold’ to America.

The report makes no specific recommendations but calls on anyone who may have information relating to the Tuam site to come forward and speak with them. On this point Minister Zappone stated “I would like to endorse this request by the Commission and would strongly encourage anyone with any information relating to the Commission’s terms of reference contact them immediately”.  

The report also examines the burial practices in a number of other institutions including Bessborough, Bethany Home, Castlepollard and Sean Ross Abbey. In the case of Bessborough, the Commission found no physical or documentary evidence of systematic burials within the grounds, but considers that it is highly likely that burials took place there. The Commission did not consider it feasible to excavate the full 60 acres involved, let alone the rest of the 200–acre estate on which the there has been extensive building work since the institution closed.

In Sean Ross Abbey there is a designated child burial ground in the grounds of the institution. The Commission has undertaken a geophysical study and subsequently a test excavation of the site and the results of this excavation are currently being examined. The Commission will report on this in their final report.  

This report will take some time to fully absorb but undoubtedly advances our understanding of the burial practices at these institutions.

Minister Zappone stated that “The publication of this report is a significant milestone in the work of this Commission. I am once again reassured that the Commission will not shy away from asking the necessary questions without fear or favour and will shine a light on this dark period in our history”

Link to Mother and Baby Homes Burials report FAQs