Mystery around ‘death’ of boy in Tuam Mother and Baby Home

Gardaí have been unable to confirm the death, or the burial location, of a boy who a religious order state died in Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

The matter was reported to gardaí by a relative of John and William Dolan who were listed, in yearly returns to the Department of Health, as having died at the home in 1947 and 1951, respectively.

In the case of William, no death certificate can be located and his sister reported him as a missing person in 2013.

The relative, who does not wish to be named, returned to gardaí in 2015 and brought to its attention a series of articles in the Irish Examiner in June of last year.

They revealed the HSE expressed concern in 2012 that up to 1,000 children may have been “trafficked” to the US from the Tuam Mother and Baby home in “a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State” following the discovery of “a large archive” of documentation relating to the institution.

The internal note is of a teleconference in October 2012 with the then assistant director of Children and Family Service, Phil Garland, and then head of the Medical Intelligence Unit, Davida De La Harpe, and ends with a recommendation that “this goes all the way up to the minister” so that “a fully fledged, fully resourced forensic investigation and State inquiry” could be launched.

“This may prove to be a scandal that dwarfs other, more recent issues with the Church and State, because of the very emotive sensitivities around adoption of babies, with or without the will of the mother,” states the note.

“A concern is that, if there is evidence of trafficking babies, that it must have been facilitated by doctors, social workers, etc, and a number of these health professionals may still be working in the system.”

A further HSE report prepared after an examination of Bessborough Mother and Baby Home records in Cork in 2012 expressed concerns that death records were falsified at the institution so children could “be brokered in clandestine adoption arrangements” at home and abroad.

After the articles were brought to the attention of gardaí, they responded to the relative of the Dolans in November of last year stating they could not confirm whether William Dolan had died or where he is buried.

“Gardaí have confirmed that there is no death certificate in relation to William Joseph Dolan,” states the garda response. “However, enquiries made have not confirmed his death or the location of his burial. At this juncture I do not believe it is legally possible to further an application for an exhumation order [for the Tuam baby plot].”

With regard to potential trafficking from Tuam Mother and Baby Home to the US, gardaí stated they had met with Tusla on the matter.

“On 29 July, 2015, gardaí from Tuam met with Tusla and conducted enquiries as regards the existence of this box of files. Gardaí are satisfied that the Dolan brothers are not mentioned in any such files,” said gardaí.

The relative was also informed gardaí in Tuam were “not investigating allegations of clandestine adoptions” and that “any query as regards this matter may be addressed to the HSE rather than An Garda Síochána”.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the relative of the Dolan brothers stated that she believed that William Dolan did not die but had been adopted to the US.


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