Vaccine trial allegations among mother and baby home complaints to Garda

Some 64 complaints received following publication of commisson’s final report

Allegations that women and children in mother and baby homes were used in vaccine trials are among more than 60 complaints made to the Garda in recent months.

Other allegations arising from the final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes relate to sexual abuse, falsified birth certificates and the deaths of babies.

In total, some 64 complaints were received and examined in the six-week period after An Garda Síochána urged victims to come forward at the end of April following the publication of the report in January.

While the report was redacted, meaning the names and locations of specific events, including alleged crimes, were not set out, the Garda urged anyone with specific allegations to come forward.


Gardaí appealed to anyone who wished to “report a crime relating to a pregnancy and/or abuse involving their stay at a mother and baby home”.

Of the total 64 complaints received and examined by mid-June, emotional abuse accounted for 17 cases. There were nine complaints alleging sexual abuse and nine relating to the legality of an adoption or a falsified birth cert.

Ten cases related to medical treatments or vaccine trials, four related to thefts or related offences and four related to baby deaths or burials. In five cases, it has been concluded no criminal offence was disclosed.

The complaints were lodged at Garda stations across the Republic and are now being co-ordinated by the Sexual Crime Management Unit at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB).


Any individual complaint can be investigated by local gardaí or specialist Garda investigators, with oversight by the GNPSB. Some of the complaints were lodged directly by complainants while others were made via solicitors and religious institutions.

Of the 64 complaints made to date, 20 reached the Garda via child sexual abuse reporting while 39 were lodged with the Garda via a dedicated email address supplied for reporting. Nineteen came directly from complainants and 20 from third parties. A further five complaints were made at local Garda stations.

In a small number of cases, no criminal allegation was made while in other cases, the information available was limited, mainly due to the passage of time.

“There may be cases which cannot be progressed by virtue of the age and/or nature of the complaint. However, engagement will continue until each report has been brought to a conclusion, with a full explanation of the undertakings furnished to affected parties,” a spokesperson for Garda Headquarters said.

It was unclear how many of the complaints may lead to a full criminal investigation, though sources said the likelihood of conviction was very slim in most cases. The same sources said while a breakdown was only available for the 64 cases received to mid-June, other allegations had been made since then.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times