Woman set to sue over time in Bessborough mother and baby home

Caroline Donovan to take case against State, HSE and Catholic congregation that ran Cork home

A former resident of a mother and baby home in Cork is expected to lodge a High Court damages action within days against the State, the HSE and an order of nuns who ran the facility. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A former resident of a mother and baby home in Cork is expected to lodge a High Court damages action within days against the State, the HSE and an order of nuns who ran the facility. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A former resident of a mother and baby home in Cork is expected to lodge a High Court damages action within days against the State, the HSE and an order of nuns who ran the facility.

Caroline Donovan was a resident of Bessborough House in Cork on two occasions, once in the mid 1980s and also for a period during the early 1990s.

She says she was subjected to physical and emotional abuse in breach of her constitutional rights. Her intended action is understood to be one of the first brought following the publication earlier this month of the final report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

Represented by solicitor Siobhán O’Neill and barristers Frank Callanan SC and Conor Duff BL, Ms Donovan, aged in her 50s and from Tralee, Co Kerry, intends to bring parties before the courts in a High Court personal injuries claim. The proceedings will be formally lodged in the coming days.

The parties being sued include the Minister for Health, the HSE, Ireland and the Attorney General and the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which ran the mother and baby home.

Ms Donovan says that when she was in Bessborough she was forced to work at the facility and was also made by the nuns to work for a family in Cork city without any pay and was subject to harsh and unsafe working practises.

She also says that a baby girl whom she gave birth to in the early 1980s was wrongfully adopted without her consent and after undue influence was exerted on her.

She says she became pregnant when aged just 15 and gave birth in a Cork hospital to a baby girl. She says her child was taken to Bessborough House and claims the baby was eventually unlawfully adopted without her permission.