Mother and Baby Homes Commission to start ​​geophysical survey of Sean Ross Abbey home's ​burial grounds

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

It comes over three years after the first geophysical survey was conducted at the Tuam site and some four years after the Commission was established in February 2015.

Children's ​Minister ​Katherine Zappone ​confirmed the plans after the Cabinet granted a one-year extension to the Commission to publish its final report - which will now be due in February 2020.

In relation to burials, the Commission has said that it has experienced ​​significant challenges​ ​​in investigating the burial arrangements in a number of the institutions. The report notes that people have recently come forward with additional information and the Commission is in the process of checking this information.

It plans to conduct geophysical surveys on the ​​burial grounds associated with the former Sean Ross Abbey institution in Tipperary as part of its examination of burial arrangements at this location.

It will also deliver a substantial report on the burial arrangements for persons who died while resident in these institutions by ​March​ ​15​.

The report will include extensive technical reports prepared in the course of the Commission’s work on the site in Tuam and the Commission’s assessment of burial arrangements at other major institutions.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Ms Zappone said the additional time granted to the Commission to complete its work will ensure the investigation can complete the analysis of diverse sources of information as it seeks to comprehensively address the wide range of concerns referred to it.

“I know this is not the news which survivors and their families wanted to hear​," she said​. ​"​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.

​"​In examining the need for more time it is essential to acknowledge that this investigation includes multiple lines of inquiry relating to the operation of quite different institutions over a period of more than three quarters of a century. 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," she said.

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