Historian Catherine Corless has called on the Government to urgently publish legislation to allow for the further excavation of the Tuam burial site in Galway.

The legislation would also allow for exhumation and DNA testing of the babies so they could be reunited with their families where possible.

Ms Corless' research uncovered the burial of hundreds of children in underground chambers at the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.

In 2016, the Commission of Investigation into mother-and-baby homes had revealed that a substantial quantity of human remains had been found on the site in the vicinity of a disused sewage tank.

Earlier this year Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said that a new unit had been set up to develop the legislation required to "enable the forensic-standard excavation, exhumation and identification project the Government has decided to do at the site of the former home in Tuam".

Ms Corless said that the Minister told her recently the legislation is at an advanced stage but Ms Corless said that time is running out and it needs to be enacted soon.

Speaking at the lighting up of a Christmas tree in memory of the 796 children at the site of the former home this afternoon, Ms Corless said "the Government is ignoring us, something has to happen soon, these babies have to be taken out of here".

802 white hearts were hung on the tree in memory of the babies and some of the mothers who were buried.

The tree was lit up by Peter Mulryan, a survivor of the home. Peter was born in the home and had a baby sister there too but he doesn't know where she is - if she was buried in Tuam or was sent to America.

Mr Mulryan said it is important to remember all of the babies, especially at Christmas which can be a lonely time of year.

He said all they are asking of the Government is respect and an apology and he said he hopes they don’t have to do this again next year.