Ireland Weighs Inquiry After Report of Children's Mass Grave

The Irish government will consider the need for a public inquiry into a report of an ummarked mass children’s grave close to a care home in the West of Ireland, Spending Minister Brendan Howlin said.

The government will “scope out” what questions need to be answered in relation a so-called mother-and-baby home in Tuam, Galway run by nuns between 1925 and 1961 and other similar homes, Howlin said in parliament today. Typically, the children of unmarried parents were placed in such homes.

“We don’t know what is in those graves,” said Howlin, who described the claims as “horrific.” “This awfulness happened many decades ago. Now, in our time, we will have a comprehensive look at what happened and reveal as much as truth as we can.”

Almost 800 children died at the home, local researcher Catherine Corless said in a posting on her Facebook page. The bodies may have been buried in a septic tank, the Irish Times reported. Howlin said no excavation has taken place yet at the site.

“It was believed that it was an angel’s plot for unbaptized babies,” Corless wrote, referring to the phrase for graves used for stillborn babies. “But further in my research, I discovered that many children and young babies were also buried here. I was astonished to find that there was no formal marking or plaque to indicate that these children were buried there.”

Howlin said he’s not ruling anything in terms of an inquiry into the events at the home, including criminal probes if appropriate. An inter-departmental group is due to report to the government on the matter within two weeks, he said.

“Characterising the children as being discarded is accurate,” Howlin said. “It goes to the attitude the state had to the children of unmarried mothers in those days. It is shocking, unacceptable, appalling.”

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