The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has confirmed that a report on using DNA testing to identify the remains buried at Tuam Mother and Baby Home is currently being considered by her Department – but the report would require legal advice from the Attorney General ahead of its findings being made public.
Minister Katherine Zappone commissioned Special Rapporteur on Child Protection Dr Geoffrey Shannon to investigate the possibility of compiling a DNA database to compare against DNA profiles which may be generated from juvenile human remains found at the site in an effort to make positive identifications.
The report was due to examine if this can be carried out within the current legislative framework.
“I have received Dr Shannon’s report and it is under consideration in my Department. A requirement has been identified for detailed legal advice and this has been sought from the Office of the Attorney General. That advice will determine the options open to Government,” she said.
Minister Zappone was responding to a question from TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte (FF) who is now calling on the Government to immediately implement supports for the survivors of mother and baby Homes – ahead of the publication of the Commission of Investigation’s report which is not due until February 2020.
Deputy Rabbitte called on the Minister to consider “establishing a redress or compensation scheme for survivors of mother and baby homes”.
In her response, the Minister said that while she appreciated the calls to establish such a scheme were “genuinely made” on behalf of an aging community, such a scheme could not be implemented ahead of the Commission’s report.
“Given that these specific matters have not been central to any previous inquiry, it is not feasible at this interim stage in the Commission’s work to pre-empt its findings and recommendations. To date, the Commission has made no findings about abuse or neglect in any of the institutions within its terms of reference.
“I know that many former residents are eagerly awaiting the completion of this work. When the final reports of the Commission are available, the Government will be in a position to comprehensively respond to the full account of the Commission’s conclusions on all matters regarding the experiences of former residents,” said the Minister.
Deputy Rabbitte asked the Minister to divulge the status of the working group established on supporting survivors and in her response, Minister Zappone confirmed that the group, which is a collaboration between her Department and the Department of Health, had met three times.
“The working group has been tasked with reporting by September in order to facilitate considerations within the estimates process for Budget 2020,” she said.
In relation to commemorating those who were held in the mother and baby homes, Deputy Rabbitte queried if funding could be supplied to survivors for their commemorative events – and the status of a national memorial.
Minister Zappone said her Department had already commenced the detailed scoping work necessary to implement the proposed memorial measures, which had come about in response to the first report of the Collaborative Forum of Former Residents of Mother and Baby Homes.
“When Government approved publication of the Forum’s recommendations on 16th April, it also agreed to progress a number of initial related measures. Chief amongst these was a necessity for a comprehensive analysis of all the recommendations in the report, with individual Departments to conduct an assessment of the policy, resource and legislative, of recommendations relevant to their respective Departments.
“I expect to receive feedback from relevant Departments shortly. Once this initial analysis and assessment is complete, my Department will further co-ordinate the response in respect of a number of recommendations, particularly those relating to memorialisation,” said the Minister.
Two arrested in Galway over spate of burglaries
Two men in County Galway have been arrested as part of a Garda investigation into a series of burglaries in businesses in Limerick and Tipperary.
As part of the operation, three houses were searched yesterday (Saturday) morning in Co Galway and two men in their 20s were arrested. They were brought to Henry Street and Roxboro Road Garda stations in Limerick, where they were detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2007.
During the search operation, two vehicles were also seized for technical examination.
The eight burglaries were carried out in the Limerick and Tipperary area in the early hours of last Wednesday morning.
As part of these investigations, an operation was put in place by detective Gardaí from Henry Street Garda station with the assistance of the Armed Support Unit in the Western Region and Gardaí from Tipperary, Limerick and Galway.
Branar reaching for skies at former airport
Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.
Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.
The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.
At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.
“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.
At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.
Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions. Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.
Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.
And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.
Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.
Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory
IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.
Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.
It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.
Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.
It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.