It was unexpected, but the announcement was made today. The Irish cabinet have approved a decision by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone to conduct a forensic excavation of the Tuam site:
The remains of children buried in unmarked graves at a former mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway, are to be exhumed, identified and reburied.
The announcement was made by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone.
The site will be excavated in a bid to recover the remains. Forensic tests will be carried out to identify each child before “respectful” reburials. The Catholic-run institution housed unmarried mothers and babies from 1925 to 1961 and had high infant mortality.
There was an outcry last year when tests revealed “significant quantities” of human remains had been buried in “underground chambers” at the site.
Announcing the phased forensic excavation, Minister Zappone said: “I understand that this is a hugely important decision for all connected to the site in Tuam, most especially those who believe they may have a loved one buried there and those now living close to the site.”
“I am committed to ensuring that all the children interred at this site can have a dignified and respectful burial.”
The minister said operation would not be straightforward and said it presented “unprecedented technical and legal issues”.
But she added: “It is only by taking the right actions now can we truly demonstrate our compassion and commitment to work towards justice, truth and healing for what happened in our past and, most especially, for those who were previously abandoned.”
This appears to be exactly the outcome we called for but feared would be rejected (on grounds of squeamishness, church-deference, and, shabbily, costs).
At one stage it appeared that the authorities wanted to rustle up dissent in the local community in order to cloud the issue.
But ordinary people refused to fall for that.
Ordinary people made their feelings known in so many ways.
I am not naive and am well aware the devil will be in the detail.
But be in absolutely no doubt.
This is a HUGE victory.
More to follow.