SALI responds to the Institutional Burials Bill 2022

SALI presents its analysis of the latest version of the Irish Government's Burials Bill

It is the opinion of SALI that whilst some minor changes have been made, they do not go far enough to deliver that ultimate of Justice, required by so many

SALI, the Separation, Appropriation & Loss Initiative has provided extensive commentary to members of the Oireachtas on the Irish government’s, Institutional Burials Bill 2022 (IBB). The Bill was first published in 2021 and amendments followed further representations, delivering the 2022 version of the IBB.

SALI has noted the considerable speed at which the IBB and other associated pieces of legislation have been introduced. This has arisen because of the findings of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and the apparent desire of the government to resolve issues. Several Bills and proposals have been introduced into the Oireachtas, but, SALI believes that less haste is required, to ensure that the IBB and other provisions deliver the necessary changes and Justice required by so many.

After considerable analysis, SALI has sent its report on the IBB, to every member of the Oireachtas, offering extensive commentary, and calling for necessary clause changes to the IBB. Their report includes the following changes and requirements:

  • Observations on the change of the Title and Purpose of the Bill, offering a requirement that the Bill’s provisions be extended to cover a wider range of associated Institutions;
  • The introduction of a necessary ‘Overriding Objective’ requirement;
  • A commentary of the continuing diminution of the role of the Coroner which requires important and urgent change;
  • The requirement to extend beyond the clauses offered by government, regarding the Identification of Burial Sites;
  • The necessary requirements concerning the Identification of Human Remains;
  • The absolute requirement of Public Accountability;
  • Further important amendments under Sections 7 (5) & (6), 14, 15, 30 & 35 of the IBB, and
  • The Fundamental error and failure to account for the obvious cross-border issues, corrected by an all-important amendment.

Without these necessary changes, which should be considered as the minimum requirements for the IBB, many illegal or inappropriate burials within the grounds of all Institutions, will continue to offer serious detriment and difficulty for the many surviving and extended family members.

Breeda Murphy states:

“When we bury our dead in the West of Ireland, we do so with love and respect, each closely related mourner scoops a handful of earth to scatter on the coffin. One by one the noise of newly dug soil falling below fills the air”.

She adds,

“When we recover our dead, speaking as an Archaeologist, we do so with the same love and respect because we know how precious they are, not alone to their next of kin, but to our community and humanity.  Painstakingly we preserve every item, every minute fragment of bone or tissue, cleaning with brushes as small and as soft as the head of a toothbrush. When we lay those remains together, we hope we have done enough when handing over to our forensic team, for them to extract the necessary DNA to enable a match.  Always hoping. Knowing we have done our best”.

She concludes:

“We do this because those remains deserve the dignity they may not have been afforded at the  time of their death, or indeed in their lifetime.  And those sacred remains may be the only informant of how death occurred, naturally or by the hand of another”.

Eunan Duffy states:

“Human, Moral, Citizenship and Religious Rights, Culture and Traditions are core to our humanity in respecting life. However it is not a given. Even in times of military war, dignity is afforded to the dead as stringent efforts are made to recover, identify, investigate, bury, and memorialise the deceased innocents and combatants”. 

He adds,

“The 32 counties of Ireland unfortunately experience an ongoing attitude of secrecy, cover-up, apathy and unwillingness to acknowledge and repair, uncover and account for a litany of heinous and unspeakable fatal crimes including wilful neglect, mass starvation, and a twisted form of involuntary euthanasia inflicted upon the most innocent, the most vulnerable and the most undeserving”. 

He concludes,

“Tracing the fate, whereabouts and final destination of many loved ones who form the cohort 'disappeared, lost and missing' is right and just, but locating and identifying the dead can be the first point of discovery in family tracing, that can mitigate against decades of painstaking searches and stonewalling. Fo far too long, suffering is just one of the many injustices of the perverse institutional 'solutions' and State abdication of responsibility and accountability that holds the 'bloodied' hands of religious and charitable wrong-doers. You are only forgotten for as long as you aren't remembered”.

Frank Brehany states:

“The torturous route to the IBB, reveals a catalogue of suffering for so many families, not just in Ireland, but across the world. It has also revealed an awakening on the island of Ireland, that the imperative of swift solutions not only increases awareness of past wrongs but also of the perils of producing legislation that creates more problems that it resolves. Whilst the Bill was originally formed around the Mother and Baby Home issue, it is clear that the premise of the Bill has been extended, and this is correct, particularly when you consider the actions of so many Institutions and their Burials methodology, which may also be inappropriate or illegal. It is vital that all members of the Oireachtas look beyond the headlines of the government’s message and carefully examine our report and the IBB. Only then will the true imperative be revealed, that Justice for those who were born Irish Citizens and died as Irish Citizens is now long overdue”.


Notes to editors:

A previous SALI report on the earlier Burials Bill can be found here.

The following provides a brief bio on each of the SALI report Authors:

Breeda Murphy:

Breeda is committed to issues of Social Justice and in particular societal structure and how power is controlled to deny certain groups of people their rightful place in society. She has extensively researched the ‘Forgotten Irish’, those who left Irish shores and who supported those they had left behind. Over 8 years ago, she began working with the Survivors of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home and noted how government largely ignored Survivors valuable testimony. Breeda has worked with many on the island of Ireland, eager to ensure that the survivor narrative, speaking truth to power, rises above the din of conjecture in State commissioned publications. Breeda collaborates with many campaigners and activists and is also the PRO of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home Alliance.

Eunan Duffy:

Eunan is an Adoptee, Activist and Advocate. He was adopted from the Marianvale Mother & Baby/Magdalen Institution in Newry, County Down. He only became aware of his adoption circumstances in 2016; this life-changing revelation had a profound impact on Eunan and his family. He subsequently discovered that the Institution in question was renowned for a catalogue of Human Rights abuses and crimes. In seeking to establish his origins, identity and heritage, he discovered that the system is designed to obstruct and discourage the discovery of family roots and medical genesis. Eunan has assisted other families in their quest for identity whilst providing valuable commentary on State and Religious abdication of responsibilities.  Eunan collaborates with and is befriended with many campaigners and activists, along with those affected in different parts of the world. Eunan also works with Civil Society Organisations.

Frank Brehany:

Frank is a Human Rights & Consumer Activist and Media Commentator. For the last 12 years, he has been investigating his own family ‘secret’ and discovered that his Father had been born out of wedlock and that his Grandmother had been incarcerated for 42 years within the Magdalen Laundry system. Frank’s Father spent the first 5 years of his life within the Tuam Mother and Baby Home, being subsequently boarded out to a good family. Frank’s journey has provided much joy and many tears, but it is the striking irritation from religious orders and the inability of government to answer simple correspondence that presents another side to his investigations, that the establishment in Irish Society is fearful of answering to the injustices of the past. Frank considers that the the Children of the Scaradh are now coming home! Frank works collaboratively with many campaigners and activists in this ‘Magdalen’ story.

Media Interview Availability:

Breeda, Eunan & Frank are available for interview. Please contact Frank Brehany via or via his Twitter handle: @ConsumerFrank, setting out your needs and requirements.