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DNA sampling underway at Tuam Mother and Baby Home

The process of taking DNA samples off some family members of children who died in Tuam Mother and Baby Home has commenced.

Daniel Mac Sweeney, Director of Authorised Intervention at Tuam (pictured) said his forensics team had already taken four DNA samples from eligible family members.

They will be stored, and cross-checked and matched with DNA samples taken from skeletal remains to be excavated from the Dublin Road site at a date yet unknown.

Mr Mac Sweeney said his office was still in preparation mode before it started the recovery process of the mass grave, where historian Catherine Corless estimated 796 children died.

Large-scale DNA sampling from eligible family members won’t occur for some time yet, but Mr Mac Sweeney has invited people who fear they could die before that process begins – possibly next year – to come forward to give samples to be stored for later analysis.

“I’m very much aware of the need to take samples now, from people who are elderly and vulnerable. We’ve taken four samples already.

“If someone who is an eligible family member, and is elderly and vulnerable, by that we mean they think they won’t be around in six months or a year, when we manage to launch the full identification programme, they can contact us, and a DNA sample will be taken by staff of the Department of Children,” Mr Mac Sweeney said.

First cousins are not categorised as ‘eligible family members’; they’re defined as a child, parent, sibling, half-sibling, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, grandniece, or grandnephew, of a person believed to be buried in Tuam.

Mr Mac Sweeney, said since his appointment last summer he has been involved in preparation work, and “putting in place the foundations to deliver a project of unique complexity, difficulty and scale” while working to “international standards and best practice”.

He declined to give timelines for when excavation work will begin but has consulted with survivors, families, and their advocates, including Catherine Corless, TDs, Councillors, Gardaí, coroner, and Archbishop.

“I will tell everyone about the progress I’m making and what’s in front of me, but I don’t want to give a date and we miss it,” he said.

Eligible family members who want to apply to have their DNA samples taken early, can, in confidence, contact (01) 5391777;; or Office of the Director of Authorised Intervention Tuam, Custom House, Flood Street, Galway H91 XV2C.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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