The Taoiseach says legislation is needed before work can begin

In October, cabinet approved proposals by Children's Minister Katherine Zappone to excavate the site, after the work of historian, Catherine Corless, uncovered that 796 babies were buried there in an unmarked grave.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the dig will be the first of its kind in Ireland so measures will need to be put in place to allow for excavations of the property take place.

He said, “we anticipate that there will be excavations in Tuam in the latter half of 2019 because we have to pass legislation in the Oireachtas giving us as a Government the power to do actually do the excavations, because for lots of reasons we don’t have the power to do that.

“So, we will have to pass that legislation in the New Year and we would envisage carrying out the first excavations in the second half of 2019.”

He says measures to facilitate the dig will take place in the meantime, with the appointment of experts and forensic teams who will be doing the work.