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katherine zappone


Katherine Zappone has today announced the death of her wife Dr Ann Louise Gilligan who passed away following a brief illness.

In a statement the Children's Minister said she was “heartbroken following the passing of my beloved Ann Louise.”

She went on to describe her late wife as “an educator extrordinaire” whose “exceptional love of children lives on through the work of the thousands of primary school teacjers she educated throughout the country.”

The couple have been together since 1981 and campaigned tirelessly during the 2015 marriage equality referendum.

"As a champion of equality, fairness and justice Ann Louise was fearless. Her courage inspired us to make the ultimate commitment with our marriage in British Columbia in 2003."

"The joy of that day was matched for Ann Louise when after tireless campaigning through the courts, the Oireachtas and ultimately on the doorsteps we helped secure marriage equality for everyone in Ireland. "

Minister Zappone went on to thank Proffessor Joe Harbison and all the staff at MISA in St. James Hospital.


Children's Minister, Katherine Zappone, has said she would be in favour of examinations at the sites of other mother and baby homes.

Speaking in the Dáil today, she announced the appointment of a forensic archaeologist who will lead a team of experts which will assess the future of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co. Galway.

She also told her colleagues that the dignity and memory of those children who died at the home needed to be respected and that she hopes to build consensus among survivors about what should happen next.

As well as that, the Minister assured the Dáil that the process of examination would be transparent and open.

“We have made too many decisions in this country in the dark,” she said.

“We are not going to do that again in relation to Tuam.”

Speaking to reporters this evening, Ms Zappone said:

"If there is the possibility for remains of children that are unidentified in other homes, in terms of what I've heard and what I feel, yes I would like to see the possibility of work done in that regard," she said.

"That's why what we're trying to do in Tuam is so significant and frankly it's unparalleled throughout the world."

This comes after the remains of over 800 babies were found at the Tuam site during a test excavation in October 2016.



Human remains have been found at the site of a former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, Co Galway.

“These remains involved a number of individuals with age-at-death ranges from approximately 35 foetal weeks to 2-3 years,” said The Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation.

“Radiocarbon dating of the samples recovered suggest that the remains date from the timeframe relevant to the operation of the Mother and Baby Home. The homes ran from 1925 to 1961."

The site has been undergoing excavations to investigate sub surface anomalies that were considered worthy of investigation.

The commission have now confirmed that “significant quantities of human remains have been discovered” in a structure which appears to have once been some kind of sewage container or septic tank. 

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said it was "very sad and disturbing news" in a statement. 

Pic: Niall Carson

 "It was not unexpected as there were claims about human remains on the site over the last number of years."

 "Up to now we had rumours. Now we have confirmation that the remains are there, and that they date back to the time of the Mother and Baby Home, which operated in Tuam from 1925 to 1961," she said.

Feature image: Niall Carson.