dinsdag, november 11, 2014

Tuam Mothers & Babies Home: evidence of far more extensive Tuam burial site, says historian

Documents given to James Reilly show Galway City Council were aware of burials   

Irish Times

Evidence on the Tuam mother and babies home recently presented to Minister for Children James Reilly points to a far more extensive burial site, local historian Catherine Corless has said.

Ms Corless, who is due to speak at a conference at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in NUI Galway (NUIG) this evening, has obtained maps and minutes of meetings from Galway County Council which confirm that the local authority was aware of the burials.

Ms Corless, who conducted the research into the deaths of 796 infants at the Bon Secours home in Tuam between 1925 and 1961, says that minutes of a Galway County Council meeting of December 11th 1979 refer to a proposal to build a children’s playground close to new local authority housing on the Dublin Road.

The motion refers to a “children’s burial ground” on the site and the “sensitive nature of the area”.

The maps from the Galway County Council archive show the irregular nature of back gardens attached to the local authority housing, built after the home was demolished.
The maps suggest that the gardens were designed to limit the impact on the burial site, she told The Irish Times.

Ms Corless says she presented all this material to Dr Reilly at a recent meeting with him, and he
recorded it and took photographs.
She will outline details at a public seminar at NUIG this evening, hosted by the Irish Centre for
Human Rights.

The seminar, entitled ‘Investigating the Tuam Mothers and Babies Home: A Question of Human Rights’, will also be addressed by solicitor Kevin Higgins, Prof Michael O’Flaherty of the Irish Centre for Human Rights and Tanya Ward of the Children’s Rights Alliance.

Ms Corless says that Dr Reilly told her that witnesses would be compelled to appear before the Government’s commission of inquiry into mother and babies homes, which is to be chaired by Ms Justice Yvonne Murphy.

april 2014 Bethany Home Memorial, foto Andrew Brennan
A spokesman for Dr Reilly said that the legislation allowed for compellability of witnesses at such commissions. The spokesman said that the meeting with Ms Corless had been “very informative”, and was one of a series of meetings which Dr Reilly has held, and is continuing to hold, with groups, individuals and political parties on the issue.

Dr Reilly’s spokesman said that an “enormous amount of work” had already been carried out on preparing the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry, the Attorney General’s office was closely involved, and the terms were “close” to completion.

This evening’s seminar at NUIG will be chaired by Mark Kelly of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. It is open to the public will run from 5-7pm in room MRA201 in the MRI Annex, NUIG.

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