The Minister for Children has appointed a director to oversee the excavation and recovery of children’s remains at the site of a former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.
Daniel Mac Sweeney, a former International Committee of the Red Cross envoy, will lead the independent office as the director of authorised intervention for Tuam.
He was appointed following a recruitment campaign ran through the Public Appointments Service.
He will be responsible for ensuring the remains are re-interred in a respectful and appropriate way.
A key first priority for the director will be to engage with relatives, survivors and former residents of the Tuam institution.
The Department of Children said work is ongoing to establish core staffing and administrative structures, and to appoint an advisory board to support Mr Mac Sweeney in his work.
Minister for Integration Roderic O’Gorman said he is pleased with the appointment.
“Daniel will oversee the long-awaited intervention at the site of the former Mother and Baby institution in the town,” he said.
“He has extensive expertise and experience contributing to, leading and overseeing humanitarian programmes in the international arena, including in relation to missing persons and identification programmes involving the use of DNA, which will be invaluable in the Tuam director role.”
Funding of almost seven million euro has been made available for the 2023 costs of the multi-annual intervention.
Separately, the Government has appointed Sheila Nunan to act on behalf of the minister in leading the process of negotiation with all religious bodies who had a historical involvement in Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions.
The purpose of her role is to undertake ongoing negotiations with the religious congregations, lay Catholic organisations and church leaders who were involved with the institutions, with a view to securing a financial contribution towards the cost of the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme.
The department said: “Recognising the importance of these negotiations to survivors and to the public, the minister believes that engaging this bespoke expertise is essential to advancing the process in the most advantageous manner.”
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The Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme will provide financial payments to an estimated 34,000 people and a form of enhanced medical card to an estimated 19,000 people at a cost of about 800 million euro.
It will be the largest scheme of its kind in the history of the State in terms of numbers of beneficiaries.
Ms Nunan is the former general secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation.