Friday, 17 June 2016

Tuam- Burial Mound

Here's some interesting info. I found whilst looking for the meaning of the word Tuam.
It means burial mound which is incredible considering the the town's revelations but it also means poultice in Malay (my mother was Cape Malay) so I find it to be an interesting aside that this word exists (spelt exactly the some way.) Below is an extract for the Tuam Guide

History of Tuam  
Early History :

The history of Tuam dates back to the bronze age when the area was used as a burial ground. In the 19th century a bronze age burial urn was discovered in the area. An early glass photograph , which would be used in what was described as "The Magic Lantern", an early form of a slide projector, is still in existence.
The name TUAM comes from the latin term "Tumulus" which means burial mound.
As is usual with early settlements in Ireland, the Church became established first and the Towns grew around the Church.
The history of Tuam as a settlement dates from the early 6th century. The story goes that a monk called "Jarlath", who was a member of a religious community at Cloonfush some four miles west of Tuam and adjacent to the religious settlement at Kilbannon.
In time, Jarlath's life became uncertain as he wished to go further afield.
Eventually, Jarlath's abbot St. Benin told him to "Go, and where ever your chariot wheel breaks, there shall be the site of your new monastery and the place of your resurrection".  So it was that Jarlath's wheel broke at Tuam and a monastery and Town grew here that was to have the broken chariot wheel  as it's symbol.
It wasn't until the mid 11th century that Tuam grew in prominence when the O'Conor Kings of East Connacht established their headquarters in Tuam.
Eventually, the O'Conors defeated the O'Flaherty chieftains of West Connacht and became Kings of all Connacht.
Then in the year 1111 Turlough (Mor) O'Conor became High King of Ireland by force of arms and this brought Tuam its most prominent status as the centre of the seat of power in the 12th century. Turlough O'Conor , High King of Ireland 1111- 1156 was a great patron of the Irish Church and it was due to his patronage that Tuam became the home of some masterpieces of 12th century Celtic art.
Pray for the soul of Turlough O'Conor for whom this cross was made, is the translation of the Gaelic inscription on a section of the limestone Celtic cross which is housed in St. Mary's (Church of Ireland) Cathedral. This limestone shaft was uncovered when the foundations for the 19th century Cathedral were being dug in the 19th century.
The highly ornamented but incomplete High Cross which is now housed in St. Mary's Cathedral , made of sandstone, bears another request for a prayer for King Turlough's repose, while at its base, the time worn figures of King Turlough and on his left hand side the Archbishop Aodh O'hOisin (Hugh O'Hession) who became the first Archbishop of Tuam following the Synod of Kells in 1152. The first Cathedral was built under the patronage of the High King  to mark the establishment of Tuam as the seat of an Archbishop. Tuam still retains its Archbishops seat in the Roman Catholic Church to the present day. However, the most magnificent surviving item from this period must surely be the "Cross of Cong" which is now house in The National Museum in Dublin, a reliquery commissioned by Turlough O'Conor to carry a fragment of the true cross brought from Rome to Ireland in the year of his innaugeration as High King. The material of this cross is bog oak covered with delicate gold filigree and bejeweled with precious stones. It is said to have originally been a processional cross in Tuam Cathedral, and although of small proportions its craftsmanship retains perfection even when greatly magnified.
Turlough O'Conor was succeeded by his Son, Roderick (Ruairi) who was to be the last High King 1156-1185 when he abdicated because he could no longer claim authority over the whole of the country, the Norman invasion under Strongbow took place in 1169 and had succeeded in gaining control of eastern parts of the Country including Dublin.
Following the destruction of the first Cathedral in 1184  Ruairi O'Conor left Tuam and retired to the abbey at Cong where he entrusted the Church valuables from the Cathedral at Tuam into the care of the abbot. This left Tuam as a small, unimportant backwater and it wasn't until the early 17th century that it began to grow in importance again.

Chair of Tuam :
In the year 1613, Tuam received a royal charter from James the first of England which enabled Tuam to send two representatives to parliament. The Charter also allowed the town to set up a formal local authority, the forerunner of the present day Town Commissioners and a sovereign and 12 burgesses were elected. The sovereign was sworn into office at the site of the "Chair of Tuam" which is believed to be situated within the remaining tower of Ruairi O'Conors wonderful stone castle. On this site a new "Chair of Tuam" was unveiled in May 1980 by the late Cardinal O'Fiach.

St.Mary's Cathedral :
The history of the Town is intertwined with the two Cathedrals, the oldest of which is known as St. Mary's Cathedral, the Church of Ireland Cathedral in the town. The first Cathedral on this site dates from the 12th century when Turlough O'Conor was high King of Ireland. This first Cathedral was built to mark the establishment of Tuam as the seat of an Archbishop following the Synod of Kells in 1152. This Cathedral was accidentally destroyed by fire in the year 1184 and the site was abandoned for about 100 years. In the meantime a small 13th century parish church was built on the site of the earlier original monastic settlement and the remains of this parish church can still be seen today.
Then in the 14th century a second Cathedral was built to the east of the original Cathedral which used the Santuary and Chancel of the 12th century Cathedral as the entrance. This building served as the Catholics Cathedral in Tuam until the late 16th century when one William Mullaly was appointed the first Protestant Archbishop of Tuam by Queen Elizabeth the first of England. This led to the Catholic clergy being dispossessed and it wasn't until 1783 that the Catholic clergy were allowed to build a small parish Church in the Town.
In 1833 an act of amalgamation was passed in the British parliament which united the Church of Ireland dioceses of Tuam, Killala and Achonry which consists of most of the West of Ireland. This led to the see of Tuam being demoted to the rank of Bishop from 1839.
1861 saw the railways come to Tuam and this led to a sizeable influx of people of the Anglican tradition coming to the area, working on the railways and also as part of the increased garrison presence in the Town. This necessitated the building of the third Cathedral on the site and this Cathedral was completed in 1878. While the Church of Ireland congregation declined following the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 this third Cathedral is still used today for the Sunday Service which takes place at 12.00 noon
This third Cathedral contains relics of the Town's past glories, The High Cross which is classed as a National monument was removed to St. Mary's Cathedral in 1992. The 12th century chancel arch in the Hiberno Romanesque style and also the base of another cross which also dates from the late 12th century. Also in this Cathedral one can see some stained glass windows which depict the faces of real people, former parishioners in the Cathedral. The West window of the Cathedral depicts the scene of the transfiguration of our Lord. It is seen at its best when the sun is beginning to set during the summer months, the colours of the window come vividly to life. This window which was the gift of the Bernard Family was installed in the Cathedral in 1913 and is believed to be one of the finest examples of the transfiguration in Western Europe. Underneath this window are seven small windows referred to as lights. The centre window depicts Christ the King and is erected to the memory of Sir Thomas Deane, Architect of the third Cathedral. The other windows depict the prophets of the old testament beginning with Moses, David, Solomon, Ezra, Malachi and John the Baptist.

Cathedral of the Assumption :
The present Roman Catholic Cathedral was built in the 19th century between 1827 and 1836. The building of this Cathedral started when Dr. Oliver Kelly was Archbishop of Tuam. In 1832 the Cathedral was dedicated to "Our Lady Assumed into Heaven". Today it is known as The Cathedral of the Assumption. Archbishop Kelly died in 1834 and was succeeded by Dr. John MacHale who was Bishop of Killala at the time. Archbishop MacHale completed the main entrance and bell tower in 1836 when the Cathedral was officially opened. It is interesting to note that the building of this Cathedral started two years before the passing of the act of Catholic Emancipation by the British Parliament in 1829.
Some interesting features of this Cathedral are the carved stone faces beside the clock faces and at the sides of the two blind windows at the front of the Cathedral. On the inside of the Cathedral the outstanding feature is the east window. The year the Cathedral was consecrated is noticeable in the upper region of the window. The four Evangelists are depicted along with Our Lady and the child Jesus which forms the centre piece. This Cathedral has undergone a number of renovations in recent times. In 1968 the interior was completely changed to bring it into line with the concepts which came from the second Vatican Council. In 1991 the sanctuary was redesigned with the style of the main alter and baptismal font becoming circular and being made of Wicklow granite. The most recent change in 1998 was the replacement of the old Christmas crib with a complete set of new figures in the traditional style and were donated to the Cathedral by the present Archbishop Most. Rev. Dr. Michael Neary.

The High Cross of Tuam :
This cross was erected to commemorate the appointment of the first Archbishop of Tuam in the year 1152. It was originally erected in the vicinity of the first Cathedral built in Tuam which is where St. Mary's Cathedral now stands. When the first Cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1184 the High Cross was dismantled and the pieces were scattered throughout the town. About the year 1820 a Dr. George Petrie, a notable archeologist who was travelling through Ireland discovered the base of the High Cross in what is now one of the Town car parks with the aid of a local man whose name happened to be Hession. The coincidence that the cross commemorated the first Archbishop whose name also happened to be Hession impressed Dr. Petrie so he looked around the Town to see what other pieces he could find. These pieces are what we call the High Cross of Tuam today.
This Cross was then brought to Dublin for the great exhibition of 1852. Prior to its return to Tuam however, a disagreement arose between the two Churches, the Church of Ireland Dean, Charles Henry Seymour claimed the Cross belonged to the Church of Ireland, the Catholic Archbishop Dr. John MacHale claimed the Cross belonged to the Catholics. However, agreement was eventually reached whereby the Cross was to be erected, exactly half way between both cathedrals and in such a position that it could be seen from all the main streets of the Town. It was placed on the Square in the Town Centre in the year 1874.
By the late 1980's, it was noticeable that the design on the Cross was deteriorating due to pollution and acid rain and following lengthy discussions (it took 4 years) the Office of Public works, the state body charged with the care and maintenance of National monuments eventually removed the Cross from The Square in April 1992. Following cleaning and some minor restoration the High Cross was re-erected in the south transept of St. Mary's Cathedral were it stands today. Placing the High Cross in St. Mary's Cathedral meant that everything from the one period (12th century) in the one place.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Tuam Spirit Babies - Wikipedia

The Bon Secours Mother and Baby HomeSt Mary's Mother and Baby Home,[1] or simply The Home, was a maternity home for unmarried mothers and their children that operated between 1925 and 1961 in TuamCounty GalwayIreland. It gained notoriety due to allegations in 2014 of the apparent burial of up to 800 children's bodies in a mass grave on the site, and the high death rates of its residents.[2][3] This is now the subject of a judicial inquiry.
The Home was run by the Bon Secours Sisters, a Catholic religious order of nuns. Unwed pregnant women were sent to the Home to give birth. Some of the poorer women were afterwards forced to work without pay, in reimbursement for some of the services rendered. They were separated from their children, who remained separately in the Home, raised by nuns, until they could be adopted - often without consent.[2][4]
In 1975, two local boys had found a chamber filled with children's skeletons on the site.[4][5][6] Some local people speculated it was a grave for Great Famine victims or unbaptised babies.[7] In 2012, local historian Catherine Corless published an article documenting the deaths of 796 babies and toddlers at the Home during its decades of operation, primarily from infectious diseases and marasmus-related malnutrition.[4][8][9][10] Her research led her to conclude that almost all had been buried in an unmarked and unregistered mass grave at the Home, some of them in a septic tank.[11][12] Some sources questioned whether the bones found in 1975 were from the Bon Secours Home or from one of the previous institutions which had occupied the same building, as well as whether or not the structure Corless speculated was a mass grave was a disused septic tank or a 19th-century burial vault.[13]
It has since emerged that the Health Service Executive had raised concerns in 2012 that up to 1,000 children had been sent from the Home for (then illegal) adoptions in the United States.[14]

History[edit]


The old workhouse, on the AthenryRoad, 1918.
Between 1925 and 1961 in Tuam, a town in County Galway, the Bon Secours Sisters ran "The Home", an institution where thousands of unmarried pregnant women gave birth.[15][16] Previously, it had been a workhouse and military barracks.

Workhouse and military barracks[edit]

The building that eventually became "The Home" had been built in 1841 as a workhouse under the Irish Poor Laws.[17] Like many other workhouses, it had been designed by Poor Law Commissioners' architect George Wilkinson to house about 800 people. This workhouse opened in 1846, close to the peak of the Great Famine. As well as dormitories, the main building contained an infirmary and an "idiot's ward". Sheds were constructed on the property to house additional inmates and fever victims. A fever hospital was later constructed next door.[17] After the Famine, the workhouse continued to house the poor and homeless for more than sixty years.
In 1916, during the uprising against British rule, British troops took over the workhouse, evicting the occupants and making the building their barracks. In 1923, during the Irish Civil War, six anti-treaty IRA volunteers were imprisoned and executed at the workhouse by Irish Free State forces, followed by two others, some weeks later.[18] These were among the last executions of the Civil War.[19][20] The nuns who took over the building later erected a crucifix in memory of the executed IRA members.[18]

Mother and Baby Home[edit]

The order of Bon Secours Sisters, led by Mother Hortense McNamara, took over the Tuam Workhouse in 1925 and converted it into "The Home".[18][21] This resulted from the prior closure of all workhouses in the county by the Galway Board of Health, and the transfer of the hospital wing of Glenamaddy Workhouse to Tuam.[22]
Unwed single women who became pregnant were sent to give birth there, rather than at a hospital or at home. The nuns were trained nurses and midwives.[23] In 1927, the Board of Health directed that a maternity ward be added to the Home so that the mothers could be segregated from the public wards. This was built in 1929.[24] The mothers were required to stay inside the Home for one year, doing unpaid work for the nuns,[23] as reimbursement for some of the services rendered. Some women who had had two confinements were sent directly to nearby Magdalene laundries after giving birth, as punishment for their recidivism.[25] According to Professor Maria Luddy, "Such a stance, though not intended to be penal, allowed for the development of an attitude that accepted detention as a means of protecting society from these reoffending women."[26]
For each mother and child in the home, the County Council paid the nuns £1 a week.[23] At the end of the year, the mothers left while their babies were typically kept at the Home.[27] The children stayed there until they could be adopted, fostered, or until they were old enough to be sent to industrial boarding schools.[28] There were some complaints of fostered children being exploited. An October 1953 article in The Tuam Herald said "an effort was not always made to find the home that most suited the child or the child that most suited the home. The allowance given to foster parents was not always spent on the child's welfare".[29] Local historian Catherine Corless also uncovered one case where a mother found work in England and paid the nuns to care for her son in the Home. The nuns did not tell her that her son had been fostered and "kept each instalment that she sent them".[30] Some babies were sent to clergy in the United States to be illegally adopted by Catholic families there.[31]
A 1947 report by an official inspector who visited the Home says some of the children were suffering from malnutrition, and 12 out of 31 infants examined were described as being "emaciated and not thriving". It also says that the Home was overcrowded, with 271 children and 61 mothers living there.[32] Death rates were extraordinarily high: 34 per cent of children died in the home in 1943; 25 per cent died in 1944; 23 per cent died in 1945; 27 per cent died in 1946. The report states "The death rate amongst infants is high... The death rate had appeared to be on the decrease but has now begun to rise again. It is time to enquire into the possible cause before the death rate mounts higher." The report went on to say, "the care given to infants in the Home is good, the Sisters are careful and attentive; diets are excellent. It is not here that we must look for cause of the death rate".[32]
An inspection two years later in 1949, conducted by inspectors from the Galway County Council, reported “everything in the home in good order and congratulated the Bon Secour sisters on the excellent condition of their Institution.”[33]
The Home closed in 1961, and most of the occupants were sent to similar institutions, such as Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea.[34] The building lay mostly disused until its demolition in 1972,[1] and a new housing estate was built on the site.[35]

Controversies[edit]

Burial ground[edit]

In 1975, two 12-year-old boys were playing at the site of the former Mother and Baby Home. Underneath a concrete slab they found a hole or chamber "filled to the brim" with children's skeletons.[5][6] One of them later said he had seen about twenty skeletons.[4] The slab is believed by some to have covered the former Home's septic tank.[5][6][36] Locals speculated that these were the remains of victims of the Great Famine, unbaptised babies,[37] and/or stillborn babies from the Home.[34] The number of bodies was then unknown, but was assumed to be small. It was re-sealed shortly afterwards, following prayers at the site by a priest.[36][37] For the next 35 years the burial site was tended to by a local couple, who also built a small grotto there.[34]

Press reporting on the discovery[edit]

In 2012, local historian Catherine Corless published an article revealing that 796 children, most of them infants, had died at the Home during its years of operation. She studied their state death records and found that they listed a range of ailments such as tuberculosisconvulsionsmeasleswhooping cough, and influenza.[4] She then cross-referenced the names with those in local graveyards and found that only two had been buried in any of them.[34] Her research led her to conclude that the only possible location for the bodies was the site where the skeletons were found in 1975. Maps showed that this was the site of the Home's septic tank,[34] and Corless believes that some of the skeletons found are inside the septic tank.[4] This common burial ground, described as a "mass grave", was unmarked and not registered with the authorities; no records were kept of any burials there.[38] Her conclusions were backed by some locals who recalled seeing nuns and workmen apparently burying remains there late in the evenings.[39] In 2010, the bodies of 222 infants from another maternity home had been found in a mass unmarked grave in Dublin.[40] In April 2014, Corless's research was publicised during the dedication of a memorial at that location.[41] Corless is campaigning for a similar grave marker to be placed at the Tuam site.[37]
Numerous news reports alleging the existence of a mass grave containing 800 babies in the septic tank were published - first by the Irish Mail on Sunday[42] and later by international media outlets in late May/early June 2014. The story sparked outrage in Ireland and around the world, and the Irish government came under pressure to launch an investigation.[43][44][45] The government called the allegations "deeply disturbing";[6][46] shortly thereafter, the government and police began a preliminary investigation with the aim of launching an inquiry.
Columnist Patrick Kenny questioned whether the bones found in 1975 were from the Bon Secours Home or from one of the previous institutions which had occupied the same building, as well as whether or not the structure Corless speculated was a mass grave was a disused septic tank or a 19th-century burial vault.[13] Corless herself corrected portions of the media coverage, telling the Irish Times, "I never used that word 'dumped'. I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank."[47]
Local Gardaí initially surmised that any bones on the site likely dated from the Great Famine in the 19th-century: "These are historical burials going back to famine times. There is no suggestion of any impropriety".[6] Bones of famine victims were found nearby in 2011, and archaeologists determined that they were 19th century "paupers" from the same Tuam Poor Law Union Workhouse which had originally occupied the building later used for the Bon Secours Children's Home.[48] The Gardaí were later ordered to investigate and issue a report on their findings by the Minister for Justice.[5][49][50]
Some news outlets reported that all 796 child remains were found in the septic tank,[6][36] but on 5 June 2014, an RTÉ Prime Time television report by Mark Coughlan, "Home Babies", reported that "We don't know for sure, as yet anyway, if the babies who died in the Tuam home were buried in a septic tank: no burial location is listed on the death records."[51] Two days later, on 7 June, The Irish Times quoted Corless as stating that the story had "been widely misrepresented" in the days since it broke nationally and internationally ("I never used that word 'dumped.' ... I never said to anyone that 800 bodies were dumped in a septic tank.") She said the skeletons found in 1975 had most likely been in the septic tank,[4] but added that only 204 of the babies had died when the septic tank was in use, saying it "seemed impossible" that all of them could have been "put in a working sewage tank". One of those who found the skeletons told the newspaper he had seen about 20 skeletons.[4] The Garda Síochána said claims that all the children may be buried in a septic tank had not yet been "properly tested".[52]

Reaction to the press reportage[edit]

The Associated Press, in a commentary on its own early reporting, criticised the reporting of the case, saying it "offers a study in how exaggeration can multiply in the news media, embellishing occurrences that should have been gripping enough on their own."[53]
"In stories published June 3 and June 8 about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, the Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptised. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not Church teaching. In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any. The June 3 story also contained an incorrect reference to the year that the orphanage opened; it was 1925, not 1926."[54]
Patrick Kenny stated in The National Catholic Register that the deaths were clustered during epidemics, especially during periods of national deprivation: "Details of the death certificates of the babies have been released and were published in mid-June. They reveal regular outbreaks of infectious diseases that seem to have spread quickly amongst children living together in close quarters. For example, 24 children died in just six weeks in a serious measles outbreak in the spring of 1926, while measles also killed 13 in the early spring of 1932, and bronchitis and pneumonia killed 10 in 1954. Four children died in four days from gastroenteritis in 1942, while nine died from whooping cough during a two-week period in 1943. Significantly, one-third of all deaths at the home occurred during the years of World War II, a period of widespread economic hardship."[13] Others pointed that Ireland being a poor country was irrelevant, as for each mother and child in the home, the County Council paid the nuns £1 a week,[23]and 1947 data from the National Archives showed that, during the preceding twelve months, the death rate of children in Bon Secours was almost twice that of some other mother and baby homes.[55] A government inter-departmental report into the records stated that an "assessment of mortality rates will need public health specialist/historical analysis of statistics on children born and resident at the home in Tuam."[56][57]
Columnist Dr. Maurice Gueret, who conducted his own research into the institution's history, criticised the media coverage and said there was a need for more historical context, saying: "It was no secret that many children died young, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. They were dying all over Ireland from infectious diseases. This was the pre-antibiotic era. You were considered lucky if all your children lived to adulthood."[58] Others, such as Professor Dr Liam Delaney, said the high child death rate at the Home cannot be explained by higher overall child death rates at the time, nor by the higher death rate among "illegitimate" children. He added: "This points to something serious within these institutions".[59] Kevin Higgins, a solicitor representing former residents, said that the number of deaths recorded at the Tuam home over a period of over more than 30 years was "off the scale" compared to the rate of children's deaths elsewhere at the same time.[60]
Journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes said other media sources had misreported his words in order to erroneously claim that nuns had deliberately starved children to death: "Today on BBC TV I said malnutrition was listed as cause of death at other mother-and-baby homes. Several outlets [are] now quoting me as [a] source for the unsupportable claim that ‘nuns starved 800 babies to death’ before dumping them in a septic tank. So just in case this needs clarification, I said nothing of the sort."[13] Boucher-Hayes also spoke of embarrassment felt by locals at the revelations: He said:
"Talk to anybody else and there's a bit of hand wringing, there's a bit of chest beating and a lot of 'ah sure, those were the times, weren't they, what's the point in going and unearthing it now'. And I think that that is an embarrassment about our past that is probably replicated in so many places where there were industrial schools, where there where mother and baby homes and where there is now the suspicion in Cork, in west Meath, in Tipperary that there are very, very large communal graves of unmarked bodies, unknown about, un-commemorated, discarded bodies."[61]
The criticism of the reporting itself attracted criticism, with Tanya Gold writing in The Guardian:
"The apologists have one line in common. They do not dispute the death rates in the homes or the fact that the graves of the children are unmarked; and they do not agitate for what survivors at the London vigil seek. This is, briefly: an opening of the adoption records, so surviving families can be united, and a properly funded investigation into every former mother and baby home in Ireland, dealing with accusations of medical trials performed on children, illegal adoptions and an acknowledgement of the savagery of the crime."[47]
An RTÉ documentary in the Would You Believe series, on the topic of the Tuam Babies, was broadcast on Sunday, 12 April 2015.[62]

Commission of Investigation[edit]

Following the revelations, there were calls locally and internationally for an investigation of the Tuam site and an inquiry into all such 'mother and baby homes'.[63] The Gardaí had initially released a statement saying “These are historical burials going back to famine times. There is no suggestion of any impropriety and there is no garda investigation. Also, there is no confirmation from any source that there are between 750 and 800 bodies present."[6] On 4 June 2014 the Irish government announced it was putting together representatives from various government departments to investigate the deaths at the home and propose how to address the issue.[64] The then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Charles Flanagan said any government inquiry would not be confined to the home in Tuam and that officials would advise the Government on the best form of inquiry before the end of June 2014.[65]
On 6 June, two senior Gardaí were appointed to lead a "fact-finding" mission. They were asked to gather all surviving records and to carry out preliminary tests on the suspected mass grave.[66] Gardaí said there was no criminal investigation as yet because there was no evidence of a crime, but senior sources said the review may change that.[67]
On 16 July 2014, the Irish Government appointed Judge Yvonne Murphy to chair the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby homes.[68] In October 2014, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, James Reilly, announced that the draft terms of reference for the inquiry had been circulated to government departments for comment.[69]
In September 2014, a legal representative of former residents of the home has called on the Attorney General to order coroner's inquests to be carried out into the deaths. This would necessitate excavations and exhumations of the site, which is authorised under the 1962 Coroner's Act.[70]
On 19 February 2015, the Minister for Children, James Reilly, announced that the terms of reference had been set out for the "establishment of the independent commission, which has a three-year deadline and which will cost approximately €21 million, followed the signing by the Taoiseach of a Government order at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting".[71][72][73] The three-person Commission comprises Judge Yvonne Murphy as Chairperson, with international legal expert on child protection and adoption Dr William Duncan, and historian Professor Mary E. Daly, appointed as Commissioners.[74]
On 25 May 2015, a remembrance ceremony for those who died at the Home was organised by a coalition of survivors' groups and was held outside Government Buildings. The organisers also sought:
  • "A separate and immediate acknowledgment, apology and redress to an aging survivor community."
  • "Full Inclusion. All single mothers and their children who were forcibly separated are to be included in the Commission of Inquiry as well as any home or institution related to these activities including all illegal activities."
  • "Senator Averil Power’s Adoption Bill to be passed within six months to open all lifelong sealed adoption files."[75]

Trafficking allegation[edit]

On 3 June 2015, the Irish Examiner published a special report which claimed that the Health Services Executive had voiced concerns in 2012 that up to a thousand children may have been trafficked from the home, and recommending that the then health minister be informed so that "a fully fledged, fully resourced forensic investigation and state inquiry" could be launched.[14][76]
The issue had arisen within the HSE when a principal social worker responsible for adoption discovered "a large archive of photographs, documentation and correspondence relating to children sent for adoption to the USA" and "documentation in relation to discharges and admissions to psychiatric institutions in the Western area." The HSE noted that there were letters from the Home to parents asking for money for the upkeep of their children and notes that the duration of stay for children may have been prolonged by the order for financial reasons. It also uncovered letters to parents asking for money for the upkeep of some children that had already been discharged or had died. The social worker had compiled a list of "up to 1,000 names." HSE reports mentioned the possibility that up to 1,000 children had been trafficked for adoption with one speculating that it was possible that death certificates were falsified so children could be "brokered for adoption", which could "prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State."[14][76] The Bon Secours Sisters in a statement said "As the Commission of Investigation has now been established the Sisters of Bon Secours do not believe it would be appropriate to comment further except to say that they will co-operate fully with that commission."[14]
The October 2012 HSE memo recommended that due to the gravity of the issue, the then Health Minister be informed with a view towards launching a full inquiry. However, that did not happen, with the Minister only becoming involved following the revelations of a mass grave at the home in May 2014.[77]
The report states that if thousands of babies were illegally adopted to the United States, without the willing consent of the birth mother, then this practice was facilitated by doctors, social workers, religious orders, and many more people in positions of authority. The report states that there is a real danger that some of these people may still work within the system.[78]