A relative of a Tuam Mother and Baby Home resident is calling on the Irish government to facilitate a full exhumation of the alleged unmarked graveyard at the site.
William Dolan is believed to have died at the Tuam Home in County Galway in 1951 whilst still an infant, but no death certificate has ever been found for him.
Now a relative who prefers not to remain anonymous says she believes the boy was most likely illegally adopted to North America as an infant, but she wants the site examined to establish the truth.
Church records show that William’s older brother John died at the home in 1947.
Tuam made world headlines in 2014 when local historian Catherine Corless established that 796 children, most of them still infants, died at the home between 1925 and 1961.
Conducting her research, Corless was shocked to discover there were no official burial records for the children, nor had they been interred in any of the local cemeteries, which left her to conclude that many of the children had been buried in an unofficial graveyard on the Mother and Baby Home site.
Meanwhile William Dolan’s anonymous relative is calling on the Irish government to facilitate a full exhumation to determine exactly what happened there.
“When I was young I heard something about this but I was too young for it to register properly, but it did come back to me in recent years,” she told The Galway Independent.
Details of what might have happened to William began to emerge after she undertook some family research.
“It has been very difficult to deal with,” she continued. “William is reported to have died, but there is no death certificate for him, there is no reason in any of the ledgers of the cause of his death. There is no medical certification of his death,” she added.
Although a family member once told her that William was adopted to North America, she is calling for the site to be exhumed, which she says will also deliver justice to all the family members of those still believed to be buried there.
“What I am looking for now is to find out what happened to them. I want to have the Tuam grave site opened, “ she said. “This would, through DNA and forensics, facilitate the discovery of whether they are in there and if other people’s relatives are in there. Justice will be served for everyone not just for those from the Tuam Home but every home in Ireland.”
The woman has reportedly contacted the Gardaí (Irish police) in relation to the matter and has also reportedly written to Frances Fitzgerald, the Irish Minister for Justice as well as the Taoiseach (Irish Prime minister) Enda Kenny.
But Gardaí have reportedly informed the woman they could not confirm whether William Dolan had died or where he is buried. That so-called Catch 22 means it is not legally possible for them to pursue her application for an exhumation order for the Tuam grave site.
The woman said, “When you hear personal stories from people who have been through the homes, it is horrendous what these people have gone through. I want to find out what happened to my relatives. No one wants to address the opening of the site. Who knows what secrets it holds?”
Meanwhile the official Mother and Baby Home Commission of Investigation carried out a comprehensive geophysical survey on the alleged grave site last October, but the results have not yet been published.
The Commission was recently granted an extension to complete its three reports into 18 Mother and Baby Homes across the Republic of Ireland, including the one in Tuam, County Galway.
All of the finished reports are expected to be completed by February 2018.