Senior coalition officials hinted at the depth of the inquiry last night before the terms of reference of the major investigation are revealed this morning.
Speaking after the first cabinet briefing of the new year, officials said the mother-and-baby homes inquiry will be “extremely broad in scope” and have a “deeply historical” and “broad ranging” element to it. However, they would not be drawn on whether the examination will look at related scandals such as illegal adoptions, Protestant-run facilities, secret vaccine trials on vulnerable children and “county homes” which housed women who had a number of births outside marriage — issues campaign groups insist must be included.
The inquiry — the terms of reference of which will be launched by Children’s Minister Dr James Reilly at Government Buildings at 11am before being brought to the Oireachtas for debate — was established in the wake of revelations last summer about dead babies being left in a septic tank in Tuam.
While exact details on the investigation remain sparse, it is understood it will not be based solely on this location.
Speaking at the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition at the RDS in Dublin yesterday, Dr Reilly said the State owes a “great debt” to Catherine Corless, the local historian who uncovered the Tuam scandal after years of research.
“First of all I’d like to say we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Catherine Corless for highlighting this issue, for the work she did on the deaths of babies at Tuam.
“I’d like to also note the work done by my predecessor [as children’s minister] Charlie Flanagan, and those groups who came and told me those stories. I found them very compelling.”
Dr Reilly said he believes the terms of reference he will publish today after meeting privately with campaign groups will be “acceptable”, and will help to answer the “complex” questions about a “long time in our history” that remain unanswered.