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New helpline for Mother and Baby Home survivors concerned about risk still posed by abuser

Tusla said perpetrators may have been involved in the abuse of multiple children over time.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

THE CHILD AND family agency has appealed for Mother and Baby Home survivors who were abused as children to contact a new helpline if they are concerned that a current child may be at risk from the person who harmed them.

Tusla said following the recent publication of the Final Report on the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes it is aware that many women who were connected to Mother and Baby Homes and gave birth were underage at the time.

“In some cases, they became pregnant as a result of sexual abuse,” the agency said. “This may mean that the person who caused them harm could have continued to abuse other children, and/or many be a risk to children today.”

A dedicated helpline has been set up and can be reached by calling freephone: 1800 805 665, available until Friday 14 May 2021, from 10am to 4pm daily.

Speaking today, Cormac Quinlan, director of transformation and policy, Tusla said the agency’s responsibility to keep children safe includes those who could be at risk from someone who harmed a child in the past.

“We recognise how difficult it is for someone to talk about an abusive experience but sharing experiences and information helps us to keep current children safe,” he said.

“We know from the numerous reports about historical child sexual abuse in Ireland that many perpetrators of abuse were involved in the abuse of multiple children over time. We are aware that some women may have concerns that they want to share, but don’t want to make a complaint directly to An Garda Síochána.

“In these cases, we will listen, assist, advise, and act to keep children safe. We will also share reports of abuse with An Garda Síochána, as we are obliged to do.”

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Gardaí have also appealed to anyone who wishes to report a crime relating to a pregnancy and/or abuse involving their stay at a Mother and Baby Home to contact them. They have already been contacted by a number of people wishing to report such crimes since their appeal last week.

A dedicated email address is in place: motherandbabyhomes@garda.ie. A confidential freephone number is also available: 1800 555 222.

Tusla said anyone contacting An Garda Síochána on such matters will receive personal contact within 48 hours.

“All complaints will be dealt with in a sensitive manner, taken seriously and examined. If they can’t be investigated due to issues such as the loss of evidence due to the passage of time or the death of witnesses and/or suspects then this will be explained to complainants,” the agency said.

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