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Consultation on future of former Tuam Home site

Wednesday, 15th March, 2017 1:01am

Galway County Council has said it will facilitate consultation with the local community regarding the future of the former Tuam Home site.

Since the Mother and Baby Home Commission confirmed the presence of remains at the site, council staff, including its Social Work Team, have made a number of home visits to households in the vicinity.

A council spokesperson said it recognises that there are varying views about the future of the site. A number of former residents have requested that the remains be removed and reinterred on consecrated ground.

“The timeline for the consultation process will, of necessity, be influenced by the continuing work of the Commission, the statutory role of the Coroner and the potential for involvement by other authorities,” said the council, adding it will continue to approach the issue with “sensitivity and compassion”.

The council has also reiterated that it has reviewed all relevant files connected with the development of houses and a playground in the vicinity of the site, and “there is no record to indicate the discovery of human remains during the construction of the houses in the 1970s or the subsequent development of a playground”.

“The relevant files and records have been made available to the Commission.”

Meanwhile, Tuam Archbishop Michael Neary said is an urgent need for an enquiry to address the “roles and interrelationships between Church, State, local authorities and society” during the time that Mother and Baby Homes operated in Ireland, instead of focusing on one particular religious congregation.

Archbishop Neary said he hopes that the ongoing work of the Mother and Baby Home Commission will enable the truth to surface. Following the confirmation that “significant quantities of human remains” have been found at the former Tuam Home site, the Commission’s report is now due in February next year.

In his weekend homily, the Tuam Archbishop said that a broader approach would ensure that the truth will emerge no matter “how unpalatable it may be to those on whichever side of the present discussion”.

“Perhaps we could begin with this fundamental question: ‘How could the culture of Irish society, which purported to be defined by Christian values, have allowed itself to behave in such a manner towards our most vulnerable?’” he asked. The Archbishop added, “What is particularly harrowing is the report of high levels of mortality and malnutrition. It was an era when “unmarried mothers” – as our society at the time labelled women who were pregnant and not married - were often judged, stigmatised and ostracised by their own community and the Church, and this all happened in a harsh and unforgiving climate. Compassion, understanding and mercy were sorely lacking.”

Archbishop Neary also apologised for the “hurt caused by the failings of the Church as part of that time and society when - instead of being cherished - particular children and their mothers were not welcomed, they were not wanted and they were not loved”.

But he warned that there is a danger that when the public anger begins to die down, “we may be tempted to move quickly to the next social problem from the past without having fully understood the complex and tragic historical situation before us”.

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