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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
redacted lives

Gardaí investigating 20 alleged crimes related to Mother and Baby Homes

In total, 89 complaints have been made to gardaí to date.


The third episode of Redacted Lives, a new podcast series about mother and baby homes, was released by The Journal this week. The six-part documentary series explores the experiences of people who passed through the system.

Children born into these institutions were usually adopted or sent to industrial schools – often without their mother’s consent.

Many women have tried to find their children over the years, but to no avail. Adopted people have also struggled to find their parents, or information about their early life.

Redacted Lives gives these people the chance to tell the real story of mother and baby homes, and explores how the State continues to deny survivors access to information, proper redress and ownership of their true identities.

TWENTY COMPLAINTS ABOUT alleged crimes related to mother and baby homes are currently being investigated by An Garda Síochána.

In January 2021, the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes published its final report.

The long-awaited document confirmed that about 9,000 children died in the 18 institutions under investigation.

It also detailed cases of rape, incest and underage pregnancy.

IMG_7245 Órla Ryan The site of the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, where a significant amount of human remains were found in recent years Órla Ryan

After the report was published, An Garda Síochána asked members of the public who were aware of any alleged crimes related to mother and baby homes, county homes or similar institutions to contact them.

Gardaí said they needed to hear from individuals about complaints as they felt they could not start proceedings themselves based solely on the report.

Since then, 89 complaints have been made to gardaí about potential crimes.

Most of those cases – 69 – have been closed by gardaí. But 20 cases remain open and are currently being investigated.

In early 2021, a Garda spokesperson said: “Having carefully considered the Commission report, An Garda Síochána is of the view that there is insufficient detail in the report to commence criminal investigation at this moment.

“The report is anonymised and any proper investigation would not be possible without identification of individual parties affected by specific occurrences.

“As such, An Garda Síochána 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.”

The figures related to complaints about mother and baby homes are included in the latest monthly report issued by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, which covers investigations that are ongoing up to October 2022.

It notes that the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) “continues to engage with persons impacted by issues associated with Mother and Baby Homes”.

“As of 4 October 2022, the number of complaints received at GNPSB (all sources) remains at 89. There have been no changes since the previous report, no new referrals have been received and no cases have been closed.

“Overall, of the total 89 reports received to date, 69 cases have been closed and 20 cases remain open, and are subject to further engagement or investigation, if warranted,” the report states.

Redacted Lives

Years before the Commission’s final report was published, Anna Corrigan gave a statement to gardaí about her two brothers.

After her mother Bridget died, Anna discovered that she had two older brothers who were born while Bridget was living at the mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway.

Anna’s brother, John Desmond Dolan, was reported as having died of neglect and malnutrition while at the institution.

The whereabouts of her second brother, William Joseph Dolan, remains unknown. A death certificate was issued for John, but not William.

Anna believes William may have been adopted – but there is a chance one or both of her brothers are buried at the site in Tuam.

IMG_7269 Órla Ryan Anna Corrigan, pictured at her home in Dublin, features in episode three of Redacted Lives Órla Ryan

Speaking in the latest episode of Redacted Lives, The Journal’s new podcast series, Anna notes: “My mother gave birth to John, my brother, in 1946 in the Tuam home.

“He died in 1947. And he’s on the list of the 796 dead children [who died in the Tuam institution].

“[My mother] gave birth the second time in 1950 – to my brother William, but William had no death certificate.”

In 2013 – before the Commission was even established – Anna went to a garda station to make a statement about her brothers.

She recalled: “I went into the local police station, and I made a complaint. I said, ‘I want to report a missing person’.

So the guard said, ‘What’s the name and when did it happen?’ I said, ’1951′. I thought they were going to take me away in a white coat but she said, ‘No come in’.

“So I went in and I told her what I knew, and she was almost close to tears. But she said, ‘Whether it’s a valid case for the police, I don’t know, I’ll have to write to my superintendent’.

“So she got back to me the following week and said, ‘Yes, the superintendent said it’s a valid case, come down and make a formal statement’.”

One of the guards dealing with Anna’s case at the time put her in touch with Catherine Corless, a local historian who was investigating deaths at the Tuam institution.

The women were both seeking answers about the former institution and started to share information.

Hear more about Anna’s story, and what’s happening with the Tuam site, in episode three of Redacted Lives.

Difficult to prosecute

Speaking in April 2021, Garda Commissioner Harris said that – due the passing of time and fact some of the people in question have since died – it will be difficult to prosecute individuals over any crimes related to mother and baby homes.

Harris said numerous incidents detailed in the Commission’s final report are “obviously a description of crime”.

He noted that around 20% of females who spent time in mother and baby homes were under the age of 18.

“So there’s an initial very significant concern [about their age], but there are also issues in terms of their mental vulnerability, and also then indications of incest and rape, and what would now be called statutory rape,” he stated.

Harris also said gardaí would have to cross “various hurdles” in order to be able to prosecute people, but added that victims of crimes should still come forward.

“We want people to come forward and if they feel that they have a complaint to make or an issue to raise with us, we’re going to deal with those each in turn and at least be able to either investigate and report that matter then to the Director of Public Prosecutions, or at the very least explain why we haven’t done that and why the prosecution is not likely to succeed.

There is a passage of time here. Persons of interest, even suspects, may have died. Indeed victims, witnesses, may have died as well, and also then records may no longer be in existence.

“So, this is a difficult scenario and decades have passed in terms of some of the events which are particularly harrowing within the report.

“But at the same time, there may still be those who are alive who suffered criminality and we would say to them, please come forward and make a complaint or approach us at least and let us speak to you.”

A dedicated email address has been set up for people to contact gardaí:; along with a confidential freephone number: 1800 555 222.

Alternatively, people can contact their local garda station.

New episodes of Redacted Lives will be released every Thursday. Subscribe to the series wherever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe now on:

If you passed through a mother and baby home or another institution and want to share your story, you can contact us in confidence by emailing

Redacted Lives was created by the award-winning team of News Correspondent Órla Ryan, who has written extensively about mother and baby homes, producer Nicky Ryan, from the critically-acclaimed Stardust podcast, and executive producer Sinéad O’Carroll.

Daragh Brophy and Christine Bohan were production supervisors. Taz Kelleher is our sound engineer, and design is by Lorcan O’Reilly.

With thanks to Laura Byrne, Susan Daly, Adrian Acosta, Carl Kinsella and Jonathan McCrea.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues raised in these episodes, you can contact the Samaritans by calling 116 123.