The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has said that a submission in relation to DNA testing of remains at the site of a former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam will be reviewed, as part of the process to determine how to best to proceed at the burial ground there.

An Expert Technical Group, appointed by Minister Katherine Zappone, is considering submissions from interested parties and members of the public.

The group was set up after the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes confirmed the presence of "significant quantities of human remains" at the site in the centre of the Dublin Road estate in Tuam.

Galway County Council has concluded a public consultation process on possible options for the burial ground.

As part of that, a submission made by scientists from University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin suggested new advanced genomic technologies should allow for the identification of remains at Tuam.

One of the authors of the submission, Dr Stephen Donoghue from UCD, said technology was available to assist in the identification of individual remains.


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The ETG has put forward five possible options for the site in Tuam.

These range from having a memorial with no further excavation to a full forensic excavation of all available ground formerly occupied by the Mother and Baby Home.

The latter option would be the most intrusive and would involve a forensic analysis of all remains located.

When it published the list of options last December, the ETG raised questions about the use of DNA testing to achieve positive identification.

However, Dr Donoghue contends this was an overly pessimistic approach.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland he said that "high throughput sequencing" of human remains will allow for "analysis of poor quality DNA" and he believes this could allow for remains to be identifiable at Tuam.

Dr Donoghue said the ETG was using research from 20 years ago, which was mostly based on criminal forensic data basis and that does not need to be the case here.

The department said Minister Zappone has requested a copy of Dr Donoghue’s report so it can be reviewed by the ETG.

The department also said there is no preferred option on how to proceed at the Tuam site at this time and that all submissions will be considered to assist the decision making process.

There are mixed views locally on how best to progress. Some believe the site should be left as it is, with a memorial erected to honour those who lived and died in the Mother and Baby Home.

Others want further analysis of the already discovered remains, while some favour a wider excavation around the site in question.

The Tuam home operated from 1925 to 1961 and was run by the Sisters of the Bon Secours.

The Commission of Investigation was established following allegations about the deaths of 800 babies there over a number of decades and the manner in which they were buried.

Five years ago, a local volunteer historian, Catherine Corless, discovered official records showing that 798 infants and children had died there.

She believes most of them are buried on the site, part of which had a local authority estate built on it in the 1970s.

Minister Zappone has said she is "very interested to see that other experts in the field of forensic archaeology and genetics have a different view" to the experts she appointed.

She said her expert group will inform her of their opinion and it will be part of her decision making process.