Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle wants mother and baby home burial grounds protected in development plans

Pringle wants mother and baby home burial grounds protected in development plans

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, said burial grounds on the site of mother and baby homes should be protected under county development plans.

In raising the issue in the Dáil today with Minister Roderic O’Gorman, Deputy Pringle said the designation of mother and baby home burial sites in county development plans is vitally important. He has also raised the issue directly with the Minister for Housing.

Deputy Pringle said: “In light of the An Bord Pleanála decision this week in relation to Bessborough it’s even more important that it is done on a county-wide basis right across the country as well.” An Bord Pleanála this week refused planning for 179 apartments on a portion of the former Bessborough mother and baby home grounds in Cork city.

Minister O’Gorman said Government was committed to a strategic and wide-ranging action plan, comprising 22 actions that include legislation and continued engagement with former residents and their advocates.

Deputy Pringle said: “What you’re outlining is a long-term plan of actions that are going to take place, and that’s welcome and will actually protect a lot of sites. But the problem is a lot of those sites could be gone by the time that long-term plan is put in place.”

The deputy said local authorities are currently going through renewal of county development plans, making it an opportune time for the minister to contact local authorities on the matter.

Deputy Pringle said: “Obviously local authorities are independent in their actions, but a letter from a government minister to the chief executive of a local authority that would be put on record in terms of the county development plan would carry a lot of weight, and it would put the onus on local authorities to identify the sites within their functional areas that could be earmarked and protected while you’re doing the long-term work, which needs to be done. But the danger is a lot of these sites could be gone by the time that legislation is put in place.”

The deputy said there are former homes across the country, in every county.

Deputy Pringle said: “I do think that engagement needs to take place, just to ensure that they are protected and maintained while we’re waiting for legislation to be drafted and put in place.

“I know you recognise the importance of it. I would ask that you and your department would engage with each local authority so that they can actually take action.”

Minister O’Gorman said he will consider specific engagement with local authorities in terms of county development plans and also continue to engage with the Minister for Housing on that point.