Ireland mass graves: Government may launch inquiry into 800 children found in septic tank

The bodies lie at the former Sisters of the Bon Secours institute in Tuam, which was closed almost 50 years ago

The Irish Government is considering launching an inquiry into a former home for unmarried mothers run by the Catholic Church, where the remains of almost 800 children were found interred in a concrete septic tank.

The potential review comes after years of pressure from campaigners who have urged the Government to investigate the deaths of 4,000 infants buried in unmarked, un-consecrated, mass graves at so called ‘mother and baby homes’.

The facility where the bodies were found was run by Catholic nuns from the Sisters of the Bon Secours between 1925 and 1961.

It was one of many homes where around 35,000 unwed pregnant women, including rape victims, were sent to give birth at a time in the twentieth century when the Catholic Church ran many of Ireland’s social services.

The names of the 796 children buried in the unmarked mass grave were confirmed by historian Catherine Corless, after the authorities responded to her repeated requests to access state records. Documents relating to hundreds more children at different homes are still being held confidentially, she claims.

Women who Corless interviewed described how they gave birth without help from a sister or midwife, and that they were examined only once by a doctor when first admitted to the home.

In a joint campaign, Adoption Rights Now, the Bethany Home Survivors, Beyond Adoption Ireland, Adopted Illegal Ireland and Corless have asked for the Government to launch an inquiry, and erect dignified memorial stones at the sites where children were buried.

The site of the mass grave in Tuam The site of the mass grave in Tuam
Paul Redmond, a campaigner with Adoption Rights Now, said: “The Government is terrified of this. It's massive. The Government just don't want to know.”

On Wednesday, opposition parties and government members of parliament agreed an immediate inquiry into the homes, and mass burials in particular, was required.

Children's Minister Charlie Flanagan said that consideration was being given to the best means of addressing the ”harrowing details“ emerging on burial arrangements for children at the institutions that housed unmarried pregnant women.

"Many of the revelations are deeply disturbing and a shocking reminder of a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been," Flanagan said in a statement.

”How can we show in Ireland that we have matured as a society if we cannot call out these horrific acts of the past for what they were? They were wilful and deliberate neglect of children, who were the most vulnerable of all,“ junior minister for education Ciaran Cannon told reporters.

"They were deserving of love and nurturing, but they received the exact opposite. They were shunned by society at the time. The only way we can address that injustice is to tell their story, to determine the truth."

The Bon Secours order which ran the home was not available for immediate comment. Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin was quoted by the Irish Examiner newspaper as saying that work was needed to get an accurate picture of what happened at the homes.

One home that is likely to come under scrutiny is the Sean Ross Abbey in Tipperary, where Philomena Lee was forced to give her son up for adoption. Her story was made into a film last year, starring Dame Judy Dench as Lee.

Additional reporting by agencies

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker