Concerns over new laws allowing excavation of mother and baby home burial sites

Campaigners claim the new bill 'appears to absolve the Coroner of responsibility regarding exhumation and investigation'
Concerns over new laws allowing excavation of mother and baby home burial sites

Up to 800 babies could be buried in a mass grave on the site of the Tuam mother and baby home. The draft legislation would allow for excavation, exhumation, and reinterment.

New laws to allow for the phased excavation of mother and baby home burial sites will breach families' rights, the Justice for Magdalenes Research group has claimed.

In a submission, the group said it is "extremely concerning" that the Burials Bill "appears to absolve the Coroner of responsibility regarding exhumation and investigation".

Legal experts and campaigners say the bill should also be used as an opportunity to overhaul the coroners system.

They have pointed out that most coroners work part time from their business premises without appropriate administrative support.

They say there is no appropriate oversight of the coronial service and allocated discretionary funding often amounts to the "bare minimum".

The consequences of this are limited investigation by the gardaí and a lack of necessary services to support families.

It is believed that up to 800 babies could be buried in a mass grave on the site of the Tuam mother and baby home. The draft legislation would allow for excavation, exhumation, and reinterment.

The Children's Committee has begun scrutinising the bill and had asked interested groups and individuals to give their view.

Some members of the committee have already raised concerns around the role of the coroner as outlined in the General Scheme of a Certain Institutional Burials (Authorised Interventions) Bill in its current format.

Justice for Magdalenes Research believes that the bill should be amended to ensure inquests are held when exhumations at mother and baby home sites are carried out.

The group said that inquests should commence "urgently" as it has a "crucial role in contextualising and examining how a person or persons died".

"It is extremely concerning that in its current form, the Bill appears to absolve the Coroner of responsibility regarding exhumation and investigation," it said.

It said that the bill proposes to transfer responsibility to a proposed agency instead, which the group argued would be "an inversion of responsibility".

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