The Irish government has extended the deadline for the Commission of Investigation into 14 Mother and Baby Homes by a year, to February 2019.
In its third interim report the commission said that it is faced with a huge task in collating and analysing a vast range of material. It said it is also speaking to former residents of the homes to hear their personal experiences and this is hugely time consuming.
The commission said it has met 346 former residents across the country and here in the UK. A further 200 people have applied to meet with the committee.
“It is not possible for the confidential committee to meet all of the people concerned and complete its report by February 2018,” it said.
It said it is collecting data on “entry and exit pathways for those mothers and children, living conditions, mortality rates, postmortem practices and vaccine trials in the institutions, and practices in relation to fostering and adoption”.
It had encountered “significant gaps” in records about the burials of babies who died in a number of the homes.
“The commission 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,” it said.
Ireland’s Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said: “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.”
She said she understood that many former residents will be “disappointed and frustrated” with the delay.