Council awaits Commission’s report before next step on Tuam

Deirdre McHugh supporting Bernie Kerridge, one of the fortunate children that made it out from the Mother and Baby Home, at the white ribbon protest outside the Bon Secours Hospital in Galway. Photo: Hany Marzouk

Galway County Council will await the outcome of the Commission of Investigation into mother and baby homes before beginning a consultation process about what should next happen with the site of the former Tuam home where human remains have been uncovered.

A statement from the Council noted that the investigation is ongoing and the Commission had not reached any formal conclusions about the site or its future.

“The Council is committed to facilitating a consultation process about the future of the site but recognise that the timeline for the consultation process, will, of necessity, be influenced by the continuing work of the Commission, the Statutory role of the Coroner and the potential for involvement by other authorities,” a spokeswoman stated on behalf of the acting Galway County Council Chief Executive Kevin Kelly.

Meanwhile a “highly confidential” memo within the HSE raises the possibility that that death certs within the Tuam mother and baby home were altered in order for babies who were identified for adoption could be recorded as dead.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly said the draft internal briefing paper prepared by the Health Executive in October 2012 outlined serious issues in relation to “historic patient safety, medical care, accounting irregularities and possible interference with birth and death certification” in Tuam and Bessboro home in Cork.

The document specifically notes that “the number of deaths recorded at Bessboro dropped dramatically in 1950 with the introduction of adoption legislation”.

It suggests that “the evidence may point to babies being identified for adoption, principally to the USA, but have been recorded as infant deaths in Ireland, and notified to the parents accordingly”.

“Clearly the same question must be asked about the Tuam mother and baby home and about all other mother and baby homes in the country,” Deputy Connolly stressed.

The document, prepared in the context of the McAleese Report on the Magdalene Laundries, recommended careful investigation and urged that time was of the essence.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune.