Gardai begin excavating garden in search for dead babies
Excavations have begun in the back garden of a Walkinstown house at the centre of allegations that two newborn babies were killed and buried there.
A 53-year-old woman has alleged that she was raped by her father and other men at the home in Walkinstown, south-west Dublin, when she was a child and teenager in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
She alleged that she gave birth to two babies, when she was aged 12 and 14, who were killed by her mother and buried in the garden.
The woman claimed that the babies were both suffocated when they were just a few days old.
She believed she saw one being buried in a garden, which was dug up at the time.
The current occupants of the house are not connected to the investigation.
The Herald can now confirm that digging has begun at the site and a skip in the driveway has been filled with excavated earth and covered in protective tarpaulin.
It is understood the soil from this skip will be removed to a secure location and sifted through and analysed while further excavations are carried out.
The earth was removed through the house as there is no direct access to the back garden from the road.
A ramp has been built at the front door and a small dumper truck that runs on rubber caterpillar tracks could also be seen in the front garden.
Two portable toilets have been placed in the small front garden, and rolls of black plastic and weatherproof white screening boards were also visible.
The occupants of the house have been moved to a different location while the searches, which could take three weeks, are carried out.
A structure built in the back garden may also have to be removed in order to complete the dig in case it was built on the site of the alleged shallow graves.
It is understood the woman who made the allegations also said a number of personal items were buried with the babies' bodies.
Officers at Sundrive Road are investigating her reports after interviewing her a number of times.
Gardai also want to speak to the woman's elderly mother as part of their investigations.
The woman's father, who she accused of raping her, has since died.
Gardai have investigated the woman's complaints for several months now, and interviewed several family members and friends about the case.
"This investigation has been ongoing for some time, as it's a historical case it takes longer than normal to corroborate details," said a source.
Experts from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation have been involved in the case.
"Despite the alleged crimes having been committed a number of decades ago, the investigation is very much live," said the source.
High-tech sensing instruments were first used to carry out a geophysical survey of the garden.
A forensic anthropologist and a forensic archaeologist will be present while the search takes place, in case human remains are found at the property.
The state pathologist is also on standby to attend the scene.
Gardai have remained at the house since the searches began, keeping guard over the equipment and the material in the skip.
Neighbours have been reticent about commenting on the excavations or the background to it.
The area of Walkinstown is populated by young families, as well as elderly people who have lived for many years on the quiet road.