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Investigation Gardaí probe 42 'open' complaints linked to baby homes including sex abuse allegations

There have also been allegations of residents being forced to partake in medical treatments such as vaccine trials

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The grotto at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home site in
Tuam, Galway, one of the institutions the commission investigated

The grotto at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home site in Tuam, Galway, one of the institutions the commission investigated

The grotto at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home site in Tuam, Galway, one of the institutions the commission investigated

Specialist detectives are investigating 42 open complaints, including allegations of sexual abuse and forced vaccine trials, within mother and baby homes.

In April a public appeal was made for survivors to contact gardaí after they found there was insufficient detail in a commission of investigation's report to launch a criminal inquiry.

Up to the beginning of last month, a total of 73 complaints had been made to gardaí alleging a variety of offences. They include 17 reports of emotional abuse, 11 of a sexual nature and six relating to physical abuse or mistreatment within the mother and baby homes.

There have also been 11 allegations of residents being forced to partake in medical treatments such as vaccine trials, four relating to baby deaths or burials, and 13 in relation to the legality of adoptions. The complaints are being investigated by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB), which specialises in complex investigations.

A further four contacts contained allegations of theft or state corruption, while in seven cases there was no offence disclosed.

Of the 73 reports received so far, 42 are open investigations and the subject of further engagement with victims.

The figures were detailed in Garda Commissioner Drew Harris's monthly report to the Policing Authority in which he said there will also be additional investigations where warranted.

Mr Harris said the engagement with "persons impacted by issues associated with" the homes has proven positive and has been a source of "reassurance and comfort" for them.

"Every person who has made a relevant allegation and provided contact details has been contacted, with a view to establishing the nature of the matters alleged and if they wish to pursue a criminal complaint," he said.

The inquiries have involved statements being taken from witnesses and relatives of survivors by a dedicated team within the GNPSB who are working with divisional protective services bureaus.

Gardaí have warned there may be limitations to what action they can take because of the loss of evidence, certain offences being statute barred, or witnesses and suspects in certain instances having died.

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The Garda Commissioner said in his August report that, to date, no evidence of multiple offenders acting in consort had been found but that gardaí interacting with victims remain alert to this possibility.

The 2,865-page report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, published in January, revealed that 9,000 children died in the homes between 1922 and 1998 with the high infant mortality rate described as a "disquieting" feature.

Around 15pc of about 57,000 children living in the 18 institutions investigated died during their time there.

The report also described Ireland as "especially cold and harsh for women" and that those who gave birth outside of marriage were subject to "particularly harsh treatment". It found little evidence of forced adoption, abuse and involuntary detention.

Gardaí can be contacted via email at MotherandBabyHomes@garda.ie,  the confidential Garda Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Line on 1800 555 222, or any garda station.

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