The Deputy leader of Sinn Féin has warned that there may be many more mass graves similar to the one discovered on the site of a former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.
Mary Lou MacDonald called for a public inquiry into mother and baby homes after the mass grave which contained the bodies of 796 children was discovered last month.
She has insisted that an inquiry must focus on all homes of this kind, not just the one in Tuam.
She said: “As shocking as Tuam has been – and it is very, very harrowing – it’s not an isolated incident at all.
“Successive governments very deliberately excluded mother and baby homes from any form of redress or recognition. That now needs to change. These were state-funded institutions.
“There are mass graves dotted around the country. We don’t have the option of looking the other way. We need to confront this legacy issue for the sake of the children, but also for the sake of the mothers that have suffered, and for the sake of many, many children who were adopted, some of them illegally, from these institutions.”
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said: “The nation needs to know, but more particularly mothers who have survived need to know what happened to their babies.
The Archbishop of Tuam, Michael Neary has welcomed the move and said that the Archdiocese of Tuam is ready to fully co-operate.