Garda appeals for mother and baby home victims to come forward
Commission’s report ‘not detailed enough’ to open criminal investigations
The Garda has made a public appeal for witnesses to potential crimes that took place at mother and baby homes
The Garda has made a public appeal for witnesses to potential crimes that took place at mother and baby homes over the decades.
The appeal was made after gardaí determined they cannot open a criminal investigation on the basis of the report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.
The commission was established in 2015 to examine institutions, mostly run by religious orders, where unmarried women were sent if they became pregnant. Fourteen Mother and Baby Homes were examined in detail.
The commission, which published its final report in January, found widespread abuse and an “appalling level of infant mortality”. It found women were frequently mistreated or abused and that medical experiments were conducted on infants without parental consent.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the Garda said a “dedicated team” has reviewed the commission’s report to determine whether it could form the basis for criminal investigations.
It decided the report contains “insufficient detail” to open a criminal investigation.
“The report is anonymised, and any proper investigation would not be possible without identification of individual parties affected by specific occurrences.”
In light of this finding, the Garda said it is “appealing to anyone with information about crimes at Mother and Baby Homes to make contact with them so that such crimes can be investigated where possible.”
However, the Garda warned: “While it is our intention to effectively deal with all complaints and information received, there will be limitations as to the action we can take in some cases due to matters such as the loss of evidence over time or suspects and/or witnesses being deceased.
“Where these factors are present, An Garda Síochána will diligently explain such limitations to complainants.”
A dedicated email address, MotherandBabyHomes@garda.ie, has been set up, as well as a confidential, 24/7, freephone line on 1800 555 222. Reports can also be made at any Garda station.
Anyone wishing to report a crime “relating to a pregnancy and/or abuse involving their stay at a Mother and Baby Home” is asked to make contact.
The Garda has committed to make personal contact with anyone reporting such matters with 48 hours of them making an initial report.
“An Garda Síochána is fully aware of the profound impact on the lives of those who were in Mother and Baby Homes and the concerns of the wider public on how Mother and Baby Homes operated,” it said.
Any reports of criminal conduct will be treated in a sensitive manner and will “where possible” be progressed through investigation, it said.