Investigation into mother and baby homes may be expanded

An investigation into mother and baby homes could be widened to take in far more institutions as the Government has ordered a scoping exercise into the scandal.

Investigation into mother and baby homes may be expanded

The Government is to look at whether a probe should be, or indeed can be, expanded after the bodies of more than 700 babies were uncovered on the grounds of a former home in Tuam, Co Galway.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone confirmed to Cabinet she would be setting up the scoping exercise to find out whether or not it would be advisable to extend the inquiry. It is understood Ms Zappone is very “mindful” of public calls from both individuals and groups in the aftermath of the revelations of mass burials in a number of chambers in the Co Galway mother and baby home.

However, during yesterday’s cabinet meeting, ministers were told the details of the scoping exercise will not be announced until after the St Patrick’s Day Dáil break.

A small scoping exercise will then begin but the Government will also have to take the independent nature of the commission into consideration. It is understood the department is in close contact with the commission.

The commission has currently been tasked with examining 14 named mother and baby homes — including the former Bon Secour home in Tuam — as well as four county homes. It is understood the scoping exercise will be completed as quickly as possible and is expected to take weeks rather than months, considering the overall investigation has been asked to come back with its report by February 2018.

Separately, Cabinet agreed to give judge Pat McCartan 90 days to look into new evidence surrounding the Stardust disaster.

The Government had previously agreed to appoint an independent person to review new information the families of the victims said has recently been discovered. A total of 48 people died in the Stardust fire in Artane in 1981.

Transport Minister Shane Ross also updated cabinet on the industrial dispute at Bus Éireann. Unions and management spent another day in talks at the Workplace Relations Commission and are expected to return today.

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