By James Ward, PA
Gardaí have appealed to survivors of Mother and Baby Homes to contact them if they wish to report crimes related to pregnancy or abuse in the institutions.
A confidential freephone number and a dedicated email address have been set up for anyone wishing to report crimes.
Gardaí say anyone who wants to come forward will receive personal contact within 48 hours.
The report is anonymised and any proper investigation would not be possible without identification
“An Garda Síochána is fully aware of the profound impact on the lives of those who were in Mother and Baby Homes and the concerns of the wider public on how Mother and Baby Homes operated,” a statement on Thursday said.
“An Garda Síochána is inviting anyone who was the victim of a criminal act arising out of the Mother and Baby Homes, or who has information likely to assist an investigation into a criminal act committed at a Mother and Baby Home, to please come forward and report this.”
The gardaí said they will “deal with any matters reported by complainants in a sensitive manner and will, where possible, progress matters through investigation”.
However, they said there will be instances where investigations will be limited.
“While it is our intention to effectively deal with all complaints and information received, there will be limitations as to the action we can take in some cases due to matters such as the loss of evidence over time or suspects and/or witnesses being deceased,” the statement said.
“Where these factors are present, An Garda Síochána will diligently explain such limitations to complainants.”
A review of the Commission of Investigation report by a dedicated Garda team has concluded that there are not sufficient grounds to commence a criminal probe at the moment.
“The report is anonymised and any proper investigation would not be possible without identification of individual parties affected by specific occurrences,” they said.
“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.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin apologised for the “profound generational wrong” experienced by survivors of the homes for unmarried mothers and their children in January.
It followed the report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, that found “appalling” levels of infant mortality in the institutions.
The report found that the institutions for women who became pregnant outside marriage produced high levels of infant mortality, misogyny and stigmatisation of some of society’s most vulnerable.
Women suffered emotional abuse and were often subject to denigration and derogatory remarks, the commission of investigation’s report said.
Those wishing to contact gardaí can do so by emailing MotherandBabyHomes@garda.ie or by phoning the confidential Garda Child Sexual Abuse Reporting Line on 1800 555 222.