Taoiseach’s ‘pri­vate’ visit to in­fa­mous Tuam grave was shabby, says Cor­less

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Claire Scott claire.scott@mailon­sun­day.ie

TUAM Ba­bies his­to­rian Cather­ine Cor­less has de­scribed the Taoiseach’s un­der-the-radar visit to the mother and baby home site as ‘shabby’ as sur­vivors have been call­ing on him to meet them there for years.

Leo Varad­kar ar­rived in Tuam on Fri­day, Septem­ber 7, to visit the in­fa­mous mass grave but failed to no­tify the home’s for­mer res­i­dents of his ar­rival.

Ms Cor­less – the his­to­rian whose painstak­ing re­search un­cov­ered the death certs of 796 chil­dren and sparked an in­quiry that un­earthed sig­nif­i­cant quan­ti­ties of in­fant bones in a sep­tic tank at the site of for­mer home –told the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day she was ‘dis­ap­pointed and shocked’ by Mr Varad­kar’s ac­tions.

She said she was also sur­prised at the choice of lo­cal TD Seán Can­ney to show the Taoiseach around the site: ‘If he’d had one of the sur­vivors there, that would have re­ally meant some­thing or if Seán Can­ney asked one of the sur­vivors along. But it was just be­tween them­selves and we don’t know what was dis­cussed. Bit pe­cu­liar, the whole thing, a bit shabby.’

Ms Cor­less only heard about the visit on lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion Gal­way Bay FM on Mon­day, Septem­ber 10. She said: ‘They were won­der­ing if I’d go on and talk about Leo Varad­kar’s visit to Tuam and I asked, “When is he com­ing down?” They said, “No, he’s been there.” I couldn’t be­lieve it.’ She said she would have wanted him to meet the sur­vivors who have re­quested a visit by the Taoiseach to hear their sto­ries and to dis­cuss what they want for the fu­ture of the site. A ground pen­e­traing radar test of the burial site com­mis­sioned by the MoS in 2014 led to a pre­lim­i­nary ex­ca­va­tion of the site in 2016 which un­cov­ered a ‘sig­nif­i­cant amount’ of hu­man re­mains. Sur­vivors and Ms Cor­less have called for a full ex­ca­va­tion, along with DNA test­ing of the re­mains and their rein­ter­ment. It’s un­der­stood Chil­dren’s Min­is­ter Kather­ine Zap­pone will soon de­liver her de­ci­sion on the fu­ture of the site.

Ms Cor­less is sur­prised at the Taaoiseach ask­ing Mr Can­ney to be his guide as: ‘Four years ago when the story broke, Seán had told lo­cal pa­pers he felt that money would be bet­ter spent on health­care rather than a com­mis­sion of in­quiry [into Tuam]. Over the years he hasn’t come to us… he hasn’t been to the fore of any­thing with re­gards to the mother and baby home in Tuam. I felt sorry for the sur­vivors. It was a bad show, re­ally, to make a fly­ing ap­pear­ance. It was al­most like tick­ing a box.’

It’s be­lieved that Mr Varad­kar wanted to make a pri­vate visit so that he could see what the site looked like, and un­der­stand the im­pact it has had. Mr Can­ney has told Ms Cor­less that Mr Varad­kar wants to set up a meet­ing with the sur­vivors and Ms Zap­pone. How­ever, Ms Cor­less has not been in­formed of such a meet­ing: ‘The ideal sce­nario would be for him to come to Tuam and meet with the sur­vivors. But I don’t know what’s on the agenda be­cause we’ve not been made aware of any­thing.’

A spokes­woman for the Tuam Home Sur­vivors’ Net­work said its mem­bers hope to be in­vited to a meet­ing with the Taoiseach.

Asked about Ms Cor­less’s com­ments, a spokesman for the Taoiseach said he had taken the op­por­tu­nity to make a pri­vate visit to the site. He said: ‘The Taoiseach is in close con­tact with Min­is­ter Zap­pone on all mat­ters re­lat­ing to Tuam, and he has writ­ten to Cather­ine Cor­less of­fer­ing to meet her, to­gether with the min­is­ter.’

‘We don’t know what was dis­cussed’

‘a bad show’: Tuam his­to­rian Cather­ine Cor­less

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.