The Tuam Home Survivors Network has dismissed Children’s Minister Kather Zappone’s letter to Pope Francis about Tuam as a “publicity stunt”.
They accuse the Minister of engaging in a “desperate attempt” to regain personal and political credibility over a scandal that has dragged on for some time now.
Minister Zappone gave Pope Francis a letter about the Tuam Mother and Baby Home on Saturday while he was visiting for the World Meeting of Families.
In it she said that the Church should “willing contribute” towards paying for whatever option the government decides on regarding the Tuam Home site.
In its statement the Survivors Network slams the Minister for repeating a “myth” that she or the cabinet gets to decide what happens to the mass grave in Tuam.
“To be clear once more, the only office-holder with jurisdiction over the mass grave at Tuam is the local Coroner.
“Where a Coroner fails to convene an Inquest, the Attorney General has under s24 of the Coroners Act 1961, the power indeed obligation, to appoint another Coroner to do so.”
Minister Zappone has indicated that the government will soon make a decision on the Tuam Home site following the conclusion of the Commission of Investigation in to Mother and Baby Homes.
An expert advisory group’s report has laid out five possible ways to handle the mass grave at the Tuam Home site, ranging from a simple memorial to a full forensic excavation.
The Minister previously told Tuam residents at public meeting last month that she believed a full excavation should be carried out if at all possible.
A public consultation carried out by Galway County Council on behalf of the Minister asking Tuam residents and other stakeholders what they thought should be done with the Tuam site was also criticised for making people take sides on a highly emotional issue.
The Survivors Network says that the government has been dragging its heels on taking any action for the past two years, “which has prolonged the agony of survivors and those whose relatives may be buried there, by standing in the way of an exhumation.”
The point out that with the heatwave this summer drying out the ground, “an exhumation of the Tuam children could have been speedily accomplished.”
While the Minister’s letter says the Church should contribute reparations for the Tuam Home atrocity, the Survivors Network asks if she or the government has been in contact with the Bon Secours Order which ran the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.
“Can the Minister produce a single piece of correspondence between her or her office, written to the Bon Secours Order, since she became Minister, pointing out their obligations to them?”
Minister Zappone’s office have said they will not be commenting on the Survivors Network’s statement.