A preliminary excavation is to take place at the site of a former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

The tests were requested by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, which was established following allegations about the deaths of 800 babies and the manner in which they were buried in Tuam.

The commission said the test excavation will take around five weeks to complete. It said a sample of ground will be excavated by a team of specialist archaeologists.

It is hoped the work will help resolve queries in relation to the burial of babies at the site in question.

In a statement this afternoon, the commission said the excavation would focus on timeline and the manner in which soil is layered at the site.

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Results from a geophysical survey there last year will be used to assist the process.

Test trenches have been identified for this purpose. 

The commission said residents and local groups are being informed of the impact of the planned excavation.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes has taken a very serious approach to their work, but feels that their workload is much bigger than anticipated. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, the minister said: " ... in terms of my meetings with them [the commission], I believe they are the people; they bring the expertise and commitment in order to do the best possible job for this.

She said the commission is on target to deliver their reports by February of 2018. She also said that the commission has given her an interim report which is currently with the Attorney General.

Ms Zappone visited the site this morning. She said it was important to hear what former residents and relatives of those who died in the home had to say.

News of the survey has been welcomed by relatives.