Tuam home survivors demand inquest from Leo Varadkar

Survivors of the Tuam mother and baby home have written to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the attorney general, and the coroner for north Galway calling for an inquest to be opened into the deaths of children at the home.

An impromptu shrine of flowers, notes, and toys were left at the site of Tuam mothers and babies home. Picture: Ray Ryan

The letters come in the wake of the report of a public consultation process carried out by Galway County Council and which followed an expert technical group report that put forward five options about what should be done with the site.

The report found former residents and residents of the Tuam home were overwhelmingly in favour of a forensic excavation of the site and DNA analysis of all remains. The consultation has been heavily criticised by survivors and relatives who said it was designed to delay and prevent a decision being made as to what to do with the site.

Tuam Home Survivors Network chairman Peter Mulryan, whose sister is recorded as having died in Tuam, has written to the Taoiseach, the attorney general, and the coroner for north Galway to express frustration at the delays and calling for an inquest to be opened immediately.

In letters to the coroner for north Galway sent in June and July, Mr Mulryan calls on the office to “begin the formal process of convening an inquest into the deaths of the Tuam children, without further delay”. He also hits out at the fact that such an inquest has not been ordered before now, labelling the delay “inexcusable”.

In a letter to Mr Varadkar earlier this week, Mr Mulryan said he regarded the attitude of Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone to the matter as “an outrage”.

“I have no expectation that either you or any member of your government will exert themselves in this matter and kindly do not send me the usual pro-forma reply acknowledging my letter,” wrote Mr Mulryan.

You need to inform yourself if you have any comprehension of how important this matter is.

“No more public hand-wringing or apologies thank you, those are of no value to us. Just be assured, we the survivors of this Irish holocaust are not going away.”

In his letter to the attorney general Mr Mulryan states that if the coroner for north Galway does not convene an inquest, another coroner must be appointed. To date, no other excavation work has been carried out at any other site other than Tuam despite the HSE confirming in 2012 that there had been a higher infant death rate in Bessborough in Cork.

A death register for this institution maintained by the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary has been held by the HSE (and now Tusla) since 2011 and records that 478 infants died in the home between 1934 and 1953 — a higher infant death rate than recorded in Tuam.

An Irish Examiner investigation in 2015 revealed the HSE informed the Department of Health and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs about serious concerns about infant mortality rates at Tuam and Bessborough in 2012.

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