Holly Cairns TD

A rotten partnership between the Irish State and Roman Catholic Church perpetuated abuses and actively opposed any form of accountability and justice

Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has called on the Government to fully engage with survivors and campaigners ahead of the passing of legislation covering the excavation of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home site.

Commenting on a Dáil motion to approve the Institutional Burial Acts 2022 (Director of Authorised Intervention, Tuam), Deputy Cairns said:

“The excavation of the Tuam site, the identification of victims and the dignified burial of the remains will only happen because of the work of Catherine Corless, survivors’ groups, campaigners and relatives.

“Attempts to intervene at Tuam and other locations have been resisted by successive governments for decades. A rotten partnership between the Irish State and the Roman Catholic Church perpetuated abuses and actively opposed any form of accountability and justice.

“Today, the Tuam Mother and Baby Home Alliance stressed the need for continued engagement and the requirement to provide a pathway for the coroner to hold an inquest to establish cause of death, in compliance with international law.

“From a human rights perspective, it is completely unacceptable that coroners have not been directed by this or previous governments to investigate known mass graves.

“The Act only applies in cases of inappropriate burial, but not in relation to unnatural or unexplained death in these institutions. Despite pleas from survivors and human rights experts – and amendments from myself – the Minister has created a law that would limit the number and scale of interventions.

“The uncovering of the truth – no matter how uncomfortable – must happen. The long, shameful history of abuse, forced incarceration, family separation, illegal adoptions and unnatural deaths needs to be fully investigated.

“Academics and activists have charted the scale of unnatural deaths in mother and baby homes, county homes, industrial schools, psychiatric hospitals and other institutions. Where is the justice for these victims and their relatives?

“During the pre-legislative stage of this Act, I came to the conclusion it was designed solely to intervene in Tuam. While this is essential, there are many other sites across the country that also require methodical and respectful excavation.

“Today is obviously an emotional one for the survivors of Tuam and the many families who know, or hope, that their loved ones are buried there. But it is also a grim reminder that the relatives of those buried in other sites will never get justice.

“This Act is intentionally filled with barrier after barrier to prevent it being applied to any other location. We need a survivor-led transitional justice process and what is being proposed today falls short of this.”


September 14, 2022

Back to all Posts