Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Tuam find prompts search at former mother and baby home in Newry

A search for human remains currently being carried out at the site of a former mother and baby care home in Newry is expected to continue for several weeks.

Work began during last week at the site of the Marian Vale Home on the Armagh Road, which was run by the Good Shepherd Sisters for almost 30 years until it closed in 1984.

The search is being supported by the property’s current owner, Cuan Mhuire Ltd, a spokesman for whom confirmed it had been commissioned due to ethical concerns.

The search was prompted by archaeologist Toni Maguire, an infant burials expert, who objected to planning applications made by a company that bought land from Cuan Mhuire, over concerns that babies may have been buried on the site.

The spokesman said there is no evidence to suggest that any such burials took place but in light of the discovery of hundreds of remains of babies and children at the site of a home run by the Bon Secours order of nuns in Tuam, Co. Galway, they felt a search “is simply the right thing to do”.

“The development agents took the view that it was better, especially because there was potential concern given what has been discovered elsewhere, to have the land checked to alleviate any such concerns.  It’s all based on speculation, not evidence, but we are caught in this position and are following the rules of best practice,” he said.

“There isn’t even the suggestion that the land was used as a burial ground but because the site was formerly used and owned by the Good Shepherds it was felt there was good grounds for a search.”

A legitimate, private cemetery which exists on the land will be “respected, protected and maintained at all times”, the spokesman added.