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Garda bureau to study Mother and Baby Homes report

Specialist officers to look into possible crimes


Garda chief Drew Harris. Photo: Colin Keegan

Garda chief Drew Harris. Photo: Colin Keegan

Garda chief Drew Harris. Photo: Colin Keegan

An Garda Síochána has submitted the Mother and Baby Homes Commission report to a unit specialising in child abuse to probe identified criminality, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

A senior officer from the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) has now been appointed to examine the 2,865-page report.

"An Garda Síochána has appointed a senior officer to carry out an examination of the final report from the Commission into Mother and Baby Homes," a statement released to this paper by Garda headquarters said.

"An Garda Síochána is aware of the ongoing concern and upset of persons who were residents of mother and baby homes, and has appointed the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) to liaise with and advise local gardaí and/or divisional protective service units in respect of any complaints received."

The statement said "this examination is ongoing".

"Any person affected by issues raised by the final report of the Commission into Mother and Baby Homes and wishes to make a complaint to An Garda Síochána is advised to make a complaint at their local garda station."

The report was published on January 12 and forwarded to gardaí for a preliminary investigation.

Initially it was "studied in depth" by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and his team at garda headquarters before the recent decision to send it to the Protective Services Bureau to probe the huge volume of testimony.

Senior security sources say the Protective Services Bureau is now "best placed" to investigate all aspects of the extensive report, including allegations of rape leading to pregnancies, as well as potential sexual and physical abuse within some of the State-run institutions.

It is understood that senior officers have already identified some other potential issues. These include it not being an offence at the time for religious orders to fail to report instances of children in their care who were pregnant and therefore victims of statutory rape.

"It is now an offence for a State institution not to report if a child is a victim of statutory rape, but that was not law when these mother and baby homes were in existence," according to a well-placed source.

"The homes may therefore not be culpable for failing to inform the authorities.

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"But the report is wide-ranging and it is now being handled by the Garda National Protectives Services Bureau, which will examine all aspects."

This weekend sources said the force wanted to assure and encourage all women and children affected to come forward to gardaí in relation to any suspected criminality which led to pregnancy or arising from their time at a mother and baby home.

"In many instances these are cases of historical sexual abuse and would be investigated thoroughly," said the source.

It is not usually "standard practice" for gardaí to approach victims of crime and ask if they wish to make a statement of complaint.

However, given that many of the women affected have already given statements to the commission, this could affect the garda approach.

It is understood that gardaí have not ruled out approaching the commission directly as part of its investigation to try to speak to some of the women involved.

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