Wednesday, 29 July 2020
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
251. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will continue with an investigation or commission a further inquiry into the Tuam babies scandal; if so, if he has considered the use of DNA technology in such an investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19388/20]
There is an ongoing investigatory process in relation to a number of institutions in the form of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and Certain Related Matters. The Commission is independent in its work and is due to make its final report to me on 30th October this year.
Separate to the Commission process, I am committed to addressing the Tuam site itself and to affording every dignity to the children who were buried there. To that end, my officials are continuing to progress work on the Certain Institutional Burials (Authorised Interventions) Bill. This legislation is required to intervene at Tuam as existing laws do not allow for the kind of action that will be required. The General Scheme of this Bill was published in December 2019 and is available on my Department's website.
When enacted, this legislation will provide the lawful authority required for the State to organise respectful excavation of the Tuam site and exhumation of the children buried there, and to make arrangements for their dignified reburial. The Bill will make provision for attempts to identify the remains, including provision for the use of DNA technologies. However, it is important to note that the site is unprecedented in this jurisdiction and is extremely technically and scientifically challenging. We do not yet know to what extent identification will be scientifically possible, particularly whether it will be possible to extract viable DNA samples from the remains.