The Bon Secours Sisters have resisted calls for them to make a larger contribution to the exhumations at the former Tuam Mother and Baby Home.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone revealed that the cost of exhuming the children’s remains buried at the Tuam Home could go as high as €13 million.
Of that, the Bon Secours order will contribute €2.5 million, while the rest will be paid for by the taxpayer.
During Leaders Questions in the Dáil this week An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Minister Zappone, “sought a higher contribution and a percentage contribution but this is what is forthcoming.”
The Taoiseach also made it clear that this was a voluntary contribution, “this is not a settlement, this is not an indemnity,” he said.
He was answering a question from Sinn Féin leader, Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, who called the €2.5 million contribution “entirely inadequate”.
She said that 50% of the costs should rightfully fall to the Bon Secours sisters.
Catherine Corless told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the order should pay the entire cost of the excavations as they have many private hospitals.
There has been no message from the Vatican so far about the decision to exhume the site, or indication or any contribution to costs from it.
It was announced yesterday that the remains up to 796 children buried at the Tuam Mother and Baby Home would be exhumed and identified through forensic analysis.
The government’s decision was met with surprise by many, after a long period where they seemed to be deliberately dragging their feet.
Excavations are not likely to begin until next year as legislation will have to be passed specifically for it as no excavation of a mass grave like this has taken place in Ireland before.
Taoiseach Varadkar warned people to keep their expectations in check as the work is likely to be a painstaking process.
“It will be slow and painstaking and, unfortunately, it will not be possible to identify all of the remains. It will not be possible to individualise them all but we will do our best.”
The lessons learned excavating the Tuam site will help to improve on any work done excavating other Mother and Baby Homes around the country that are also being looked at.