Amid Horror At Mass Graves Of Children, Calls In Ireland For An Inquiry

June 5, 2014

Earlier this week, we told you about the discovery of a mass grave at a former home for unwed mothers in Tuam, Ireland. The bodies of nearly 800 children and infants, interred in an unused septic tank, had gone unmarked and unnoticed for decades, until local historian Catherine Corless uncovered documents that led to the gruesome revelation.

Since the news broke, Irish media have reported that at least three similar church-run facilities also have mass graveyards.

Government: Calls For Investigations

Irish lawmakers are calling for a full investigation into the circumstances of the children’s death and burial, RTÉ reports. At least one has called for a formal apology from Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Homes for mothers and children were run by the Catholic Church, but received state funding and some oversight.

On Thursday, an interdepartmental group of government officials met to discuss possible investigations into Tuam and other homes for unwed mothers and their children. Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan, calling the discovery at Tuam “deeply disturbing,” says the group will report to the government on the best course of action.

Archbishop: ‘Horrified And Saddened’

The Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary, says he was “greatly shocked” to learn about the mass grave, according to the BBC. “I am horrified and saddened to hear of the large number of deceased children involved and this points to a time of great suffering and pain for the little ones and their mothers,” Neary says.

He also says the diocese wasn’t involved in running the home, which was operated by the Sisters of Bon Secours.

The nuns met last week with a committee seeking to build a memorial at Tuam, the BBC reports. According to the committee’s chair, the nuns said they hadn’t known so many children were buried at the site.

Beyond Tuam

Susan Lohan, co-founder of The Adoption Rights Alliance, which advocates for greater access to adoptions records, says a nationwide inquiry is necessary.

“It’s got to take in all of the mother and baby homes, all of which have mapped children’s graveyards on site,” she told RTÉ.

There are at least three more mass graves, located at former homes for unwed mothers in Bessborough, Castlepollard and Roscrea, according to RTÉ.

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary operated those now-defunct facilities. They told RTÉ they would participate in an independent inquiry into how children were buried at the homes, in order to establish the truth about a “very sad chapter in the history of Irish society.”

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