Mother and Baby Homes Commission to begin a geophysical survey in Tipperary

The ​​Mother and Baby Homes Commission is to begin a ​​geophysical survey at the site of a former Mother and Baby Home in Tipperary.

The Commission advised the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, that it plans to conduct the survey on the burial grounds associated with the former Sean Ross Abbey institution.

Sean Ross Abbey was run by the Sacred Heart Sisters as a mother and baby home from 1930 to 1970.

It has been reported that the remains of young women and babies are buried in unmarked graves on its grounds.

The Minister ​confirmed the plans after the Cabinet granted a one-year extension to the Commission to publish its final report, which was due to be finished next month, will now be due in February 2020.

The news of the extension has angered survivors and activists, who have accused the government of delaying recognition and redress for victims and survivors.

The minister published the Fourth Interim Report from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes on Wednesday.

Speaking after the Government meeting, Ms Zappone said: “I know this is not the news which survivors and their families wanted to hear.

“I know they will be disappointed by this development but the Commission is confident that with this additional time it can comprehensively report on its terms of reference.

“While the Government has agreed to extend the timeframe for its final report, the Commission will now report on the key issue of burial arrangements at the major institutions by 15 March 2019.

“The public interest, and most importantly the interest of former residents, is best served by facilitating the Commission to conduct the comprehensive analysis required to make its findings and recommendations.”

A geophysical survey of infant burial grounds takes place (Brian Lawless/PA)
A geophysical survey of infant burial grounds takes place (Brian Lawless/PA)

In relation to burials, the Commission reiterated the significant challenges in investigating the burial arrangements in a number of the institutions.

The report notes that more people have recently come forward with additional information and the Commission is in the process of verifying these reports.

The Commission advised the minister that it plans to deliver a substantial report on the burial arrangements for those who died while in the institutions by March 15, 2019.

The report will include extensive technical reports prepared in the course of the Commission’s work on the site of the former institution in Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway and the Commission’s assessment of burial arrangements at other major institutions.

The minister added that the extension of time for the Commission will not impact on the planned forensic excavation of the Tuam Mother and Baby home site, which is due to start later this year.

A map showing the location of the infant cemetery (Brian Lawless/PA)
A map showing the location of the infant cemetery (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Commission says the burial report will assist the legislative and operational arrangements for the priority project.

Sinn Fein spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Denise Mitchell said the extension was infuriating.

“This is very disappointing and upsetting news to victims and loved ones of those who suffered in these institutions,” she said.

“These survivors have already faced a year-long delay and to now be told they will have to wait a further 12 months is infuriating and unfair.”

Wednesday’s report comes over four years after the Commission was established in February 2015.

- Press Association

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