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Deadline for submitting home burials by mother and baby

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This week is the deadline for submission to the Oireachtas committee that will scrutinize the proposed legislation allowing for excavation, exhumation and re-intervention of waste in the former institutions of the mother and baby home.

The General Outline of the Draft Law on Some Institutional Burials was published in December 2019, following the Fifth Interim Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Mothers ‘and Infants’ Homes, which highlighted key issues with burials in Bessborough and Tuam.

Last month, on the day the final report was published by the Commission of Inquiry, the Cabinet agreed that the Institutional Burial Bill should continue.

In its final report, the Commission found that most Mothers ‘and Babies’ Homes did not have burial records and was unable to determine where most of Bessborough’s children were buried.

The general scheme of the Draft Burial Law provides for the establishment of an agency, which can oversee the excavation, exhumation, identification and reburial of any remains found in certain places where “inappropriate burials have taken place”.

In its presentation published today, the Irish Commission on Human Rights and Equality says the overall draft law raises a number of human rights and equality issues.

Has made 25 recommendations.

The 30-page report underscores the obligation of the State to make the best efforts in the collection, identification and return of human waste to family members.

He recommends that the scope of the Draft Law be revised to approximate the international definition of mass grave sites – to include any burial site where circumstances relating to death or the method of extermination of the body require an inquiry into their legality.

Ultimately he says the State is under a legal duty to investigate mass burials and to preserve and protect evidence at the respective sites.

It is clear from the presentation that IHREC is concerned about the proposed exclusion of certain places where there is an ongoing Guard investigation into the circumstances surrounding the burial or manner of death.

He says a criminal investigation should not be a reason to exclude countries from the proposed legislation.

Such a restriction, he says, could result in the exclusion of many inappropriate burials, including potentially some burial sites identified in the Commission of Inquiry.

The role of the forensic doctor as defined in the heads of the bill is also addressed by IHREC.

The proposed legislation suggests that Coroner will have no jurisdiction under the Coroners Act over bodies exhumed from a site while the Agency reviewing the site is in existence.

IHREC says that in the absence of a forensic investigation to establish a cause of death, it is unclear how the State intends to ensure that family members know the truth about the cause and circumstances of death, and the manner of burial. their relatives.

He recommends a change to recognize that the Forensic Medicine jurisdiction applies to burial sites.

Another issue highlighted by IHREC relates to the role and function of the agency and the data it collects.

Like the Commission of Inquiry into Mothers and Infants Homes, the agency overseeing the excavations, exhumations and identifications will be disbanded after a period of time.

At that point, he will deposit all the documents and data in his possession with the ‘sponsoring’ Minister.

Documents and records will be considered Department data under the National Archives Act and will be stamped for a period of 30 years.

IHREC says this requires further examination.

The deadline for final submissions in writing is Friday noon. They will review the Oireachtas Committee on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration review before a text is finalized.



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