The Government has agreed to a request from the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes for an extension of one year to allow it to complete its fact gathering process.
Meanwhile, the Commission has said it appears it will be difficult to establish the facts about the burials of babies who died in a number of the eighteen institutions under investigation - writes rte.ie.
The Commission makes its comment in its four-page Third Interim Report to the Government, which has just been published.
The probe was set in motion in February 2015 and it was due to report two strands by August 2016, while the major section was due to be published next February.
Today's excision means that, after granting earlier extensions for the first two modules until next February, the Government has now agreed that the Commission will report on all three strands of its work by 17 February 2019.
The Commisison states that while there are detailed death records available, there are significant gaps in the information available about the burials of babies who died in a number of the institutions under investigation.
The Commission said it "is continuing to make inquiries about burials and burial records, but it appears that this is an area in which it will be difficult to establish the facts."
Announcing thedecision to extend the deadline, Ms Zappone said:
"I want to thank the Commission for this update on its important work. When I recently met with the Commission I was again reassured by their absolute commitment to establish the full facts of what happened to women and children in these institutions. It is important that we do not underestimate the complexity of this task and we must not compromise the process of establishing the truth by leaving any stone uncovered or taking any shortcuts. I do understand that this extension of time delays the day which many former residents have been eagerly anticipating. I know many will be disappointed and frustrated by this development."
The Minister added: "I have asked the Commission to make every effort to deliver their reports as soon as practicable, and in advance of February 2019 if possible."
She added that the Government will make all the required resources available to the Commission for the duration of its investigations.
A group representing survivors of a number of homes and other institutions has expressed their outrage at the delay.
The Coalition of Mother and Baby Home Survivors said that the survivor community is elderly, pointing out hat many survivors have died since the Tuam story broke in May 2014.
Paul Redmond, CMABS Chairperson, said:"This is yet another delaying tactic by the Government to deny survivors truth and justice. The current inquiry is already too limited and excludes many survivors and this delay will now ensure that thousands more survivors are denied justice by death."
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