Call for gardaí to question surviving Tuam nuns
Minister of State John Halligan has called on gardaí to question any surviving Bon Secours nuns who ever worked at the Tuam mother and baby home, to establish whether a criminal investigation is warranted.
He said in a statement that old age should not diminish accountability in the Tuam home scandal.
"As was the case with the Nazi war crimes trials, if an individual has been an accessory to a crime then they should be held accountable, regardless of how many years have passed or their advancing age," he said.
"Bearing in mind that the child mortality rate at Bessborough in 1943 was approaching 70% - similar to some concentration camps - I believe a criminal investigation needs to take place on the basis that these children were neglected."
Mr Halligan has also called for State intervention to ensure the Catholic Church takes responsibility for "casting children into the dirt".
"The records show that many of these children died from malnutrition and illnesses worsened by starved immune systems," he said.
"A 1946 county board health inspection report recorded how the children were 'emaciated, fragile'. Many more died from 'debility from birth', no doubt in many cases down to their mothers' not receiving proper medical care during childbirth.
"The Bon Secours Order was paid a weekly rate to take care of these women and children and it clearly neglected to do so. And if it is found to be guilty of criminal neglect, its assets should be seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau."
Mr Halligan wants the surviving Bon Secours sisters from the Tuam home to be interviewed about the post mortem practices and burial arrangements.
"I will not accept that they cannot shed some light on this disrespectful discarding of innocent children's remains. And I'd be very interested in their thoughts as to why the death rate of babies at the home was double that of other mother and baby homes around the country", he added.