The Irish government has bowed to national and international pressure over the scandal of the death of 4,000 babies who were buried in unmarked, unconsecrated and mass graves at homes for unmarried mothers.
The horrifying record of so-called mother and baby homes over several decades in the last century is being reviewed after campaigners forced renewed focus on the need to formally commemorate how 800 infants died and were buried at one institute in Co Galway.
The remains of the youngsters were interred in a concrete, septic tank in the grounds of a since-abandoned home in Tuam, run by Catholic nuns from the Sisters of the Bon Secours between 1925 and 1961.
The names of the 796 children buried in the mass grave without a headstone have been confirmed by a local historian after she made repeated requests from the state for records. Records of hundreds more at other homes are still being held confidentially.
The revelations sparked renewed calls for the government to hold a short, focused public inquiry into the practices at the homes, particularly mass burials.
Children’s Minister Charlie Flanagan said officials were giving active consideration to the best means of addressing the harrowing details.
“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,” he said.
“I am particularly mindful of the relatives of those involved and of local communities.”
About 35,000 single women are believed to have spent time in one of 10 homes – one of which, the Sean Ross Abbey in Tipperary – was where the story of Philomena Lee began when she was forced to give her son up for adoption. He died without her ever seeing him again.