A senior Irish Bishop has called for an independent inquiry into the discovery of a mass grave of babies in Tuam and reports that Catholic homes allowed medical trials on children in their care.

Dr Diarmuid Martin, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, has said an official inquiry must be held into the Tuam babies scandal.

He has also demanded that the inquiry be independent of the Catholic Church and state agencies and should be chaired by a member of the judiciary.

He said it should also examine if similar burials took place at other mother and baby homes throughout the state.

The Irish Times reports that Dr Martin has suggested that membership of the commission should include the likes of Ian Elliott, former chief executive officer of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Archbishop Martin said: “The indications are that if something happened in Tuam it probably happened in other mother and baby homes around the country.

“Because of this, I believe a wide ranging investigation is necessary.

“There is no point in investigating just what happened in Tuam and then next year finding out more. We have to look at the whole culture of mother and baby homes, they are talking about medical experiments vaccine trials there.”

The Dublin Archbishop also wants the commission to examine other historical cases and issues involving children placed into the care of the Church, including adoption.

He added: “We also have to look at the question of adoption.

“They are very complicated and very sensitive issues, but the only way we will come out of this particular period of our history is when the truth comes out.”

Dr Martin told Irish state broadcaster RTE that it is very important that any investigation should be separated from the church and state or any other organization that was involved.

He continued: “That is because there is an entanglement there that goes right through a period of Irish history. It is only an independent person who would be able to do that.

“Such a commission should perhaps be headed by a judicial personality. I think a person of the caliber of Ian Elliott, who is a very strong person in the investigation of child abuse in the Catholic Church, would be a very interesting addition to any such commission.

“The indications are that those who were running those institutions didn’t understand and did not want to understand how you look after children and how you examine the special care that children need at that early stage.”