'We need an answer to this question'

A survivor group has called on Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone to launch an inquest into the deaths of children at the mass grave of the Tuam Baby and Mother Home.

The Tuam Home Survivors Network has said only a complete forensic exhumation and post-mortem can determine the cause of each death.

A spokesperson for the network said an inquest was important for not only the survivors and those who had passed away, but for the wider public, to know what transpired in the home.

The spokesperson said: "We are asking Minister Zappone to follow the current law and launch an inquest into the deaths of the babies at the Tuam Baby and Mother Home. We believe any excavation of the site and the removal of the children from one mass grave to another, with out an inquest, is bypassing the current law and we will resist it by all lawful means.

"We are campaigning for all of the children; those who are buried in the sewage tank and survivors, and for the general public because they need to know what happened. The truth needs to be known. We need an answer to this question."

The calls come after the network held banner demonstrations on Tuesday outside Minister Zappone's office in Dublin, as well as the coroner's office in Headford in response to the publishing of last week's latest report from the Commission of Investigation.

The banner outside Minister's Zappone's office read: "800 TUAM DEAD ZAPPONE & NUNS STAND IN WAY OF INQUEST" and was posted on The Tuam Home Survivors Network's Facebook page.

The spokesperson for the network said questions needed to be asked about certain aspects of the report.

"The report contains a lot of information but it is our belief that certain information is being held until the final outcome of the investigation which may be another year. There is no certainty that all children registered as dead did die at the time that deaths were officially registered. How can we be certain of what the cause of death was if there are no medical certificates. How can we trust the [report]?

"We need a complete forensic exhumation, together with use of all resources required, to complete the most extensive DNA database possible and post-mortems to determine, wherever possible, the cause of each death."

The interim report which was published last Wednesday, the fifth one since the Government established the Commission in 2015, stated employees of the Galway County Council must have known about the burials as they would have been in the grounds of the home quite frequently, and that it had found evidence that the burial grounds may extend beyond the area of the current memorial garden.

Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte has also criticised the work of the commission saying it is too slow and that more urgency is required.

The scandal was first uncovered in 2011 by local historian Catherine Corless when she wrote in the Old Tuam Society's journal about her discovery of death records for 796 children and mothers resident in the town's institution between 1925 and 1961.

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