Ireland considers inquiry into children's mass grave at ex-church home
By Conor Humphries and Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland is considering an inquiry into what the government called a "deeply disturbing" discovery of an unmarked graveyard at a former home run by the Roman Catholic Church where almost 800 children died between 1925 and 1961.
Ireland's once powerful Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of scandals over the abuse and neglect of children, and the government is concerned that research carried out by a local historian in county Galway has revealed another dark chapter.
The graveyard was discovered in the former grounds of one of Ireland's "mother-and-baby homes" run by the Bon Secours order of nuns. Researcher Catherine Corless said the bodies were buried in a sewage tank on the grounds.
Corless said public records show that 796 children died at there before its closure just over 50 years ago. She told national broadcaster RTE that some of the dead were as young as three-months-old.
Children's Minister Charlie Flanagan said on Wednesday that consideration was being given to the best means of addressing the "harrowing details" emerging on burial arrangements for children at the institutions that housed unmarried pregnant women.
"Many of the revelations are deeply disturbing and a shocking reminder of a darker past in Ireland when our children were not cherished as they should have been," Flanagan said in a statement, adding that a report would be delivered to government by the end of June.
The Catholic Church ran many of Ireland's social services in the 20th century, including mother-and-baby homes where tens of thousands of unwed pregnant women, including rape victims, were sent to give birth.
Unmarried mothers and their children were seen as a stain on Ireland's image as a devout, Catholic nation. They were also a problem for some of the fathers, particularly powerful figures such as priests and wealthy, married men. Continued...