An Irishwoman whose brothers died at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home has called on nuns to pay to find the remains of missing children.
A forensic excavation of the site was announced by Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, who said that the remains needed to be identified and if possible re-buried.
Now Anna Corrigan, who lost two brothers at the home, says that the order of nuns, not the taxpayer, who should bear the cost.
The excavation is expected to cost between €6million and €13 million but the Bon Secours order has only offered to contribute €2.5 million.
Ms Corrigan said: “They actually put them in there, so they should pay to take them out.
“I don’t think the liability should be on the taxpayer, because they [nuns] have done wrong. They’re quite a rich organisation.”
She added that what happened to her brothers and hundreds of other children at the home was criminal and constituted ‘genocide’.
She said: “From a personal point of view I have two police inquiries into what happened to my brothers. Both of them were born in the Tuam home.
“It’s actually a crime scene in relation to what happened to my brothers.
“The one thing that did jump out, and it has been highlighted to me by members of the group, is ‘excavation of the available site’ – we don’t understand what that means.
“We could take this realistically outside the State, because we’re nearly into genocide here as I told the Taoiseach on Monday.
“Forcefully transferring children of a group to another group and that was done because they were illegitimate Catholics. Causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group, so I mean that comes under the Genocide Act.
“There were illegal adoptions, so it’s quite possible not all of the children are actually in the grave. I don’t want to be negative, but I do have to be sceptical because the road we have been down now has been quite a long road.
“After all we’ve been through we can’t jump for joy. We have to review it and see what it entails, but it is a good starting point. Cautiously welcome it would be the word.”
Ms Corrigan’s mother Bridget Dolan was one of the victims of the home and her story was told in the book My Name Is Bridget.
Five years ago, historian Catherine Corless discovered records showing 798 infants and children died at the home.
She thanked Ms Zappone for her announcement that the remains will be exhumed and hopefully identified through DNA testing.
Ms Corless told RTE Radio: “I’m very thankful to the Government and especially to Minister Zappone who has stood by us for so long. It’s a huge day for all the survivors.
“This, to me, is a total acknowledgement of what happened.”
Ms Zappone said: “I understand 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. It is the right thing to do.
“It has taken us more time than first anticipated to examine the unprecedented technical and legal issues which arise in seeking to appropriately respond to the tragic discovery of comingled juvenile remains at this site.”
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Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling