Police launched an investigation into allegations of abuse involving Mother and Baby Institutions, Work Houses and Magdalene Laundries on 6th October 2021.
These institutions housed many, including pregnant women and girls from 1922 to 1990 in Northern Ireland, who often felt coerced into giving up their child. Thousands of people are said to have entered these institutions over a 68-year period, and a wide range of alleged criminality that potentially happened there is now being investigated.
Since the investigation was launched, officers in the dedicated Investigation Team have received 57 reports, including from mothers who have never met their children.
A woman who gave birth at the Marianvale Institution, Adele Johnston is encouraging more victims to come forward and report.
Adele Johnston, who is a member of the support group ‘Birth Mothers for Justice NI’ said: “I would encourage anyone that has been impacted by The Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Workhouses in Northern Ireland between 1922 to 1990 to come forward and speak to the dedicated Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation team. You will be treated with complete sensitivity and respect as they wish to build a complete picture of what happened in these institutions. The only way to right the injustices of the past is to make your voices heard.”
As part of the Police’s ongoing efforts to encourage victims and witnesses of any alleged criminality to come forward, local neighbourhood policing teams will be out on the streets across Northern Ireland speaking to organisations and members of the public about the investigation.
Police are asking:
“Were you a mother taken to one of these institutions to have your baby?
“Were you adopted from one of these institutions?
“Did you work in one of these institutions between 1922-1990?
“Were you a resident in any of these institution?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the investigation team want to hear from you.
Detective Superintendent Gary Reid, who is leading this investigation, said: “The last known institution closed down in 1990. This is not a lifetime ago, and we believe there are people out there who are still suffering in silence.
“It’s important that we are engaging with our local communities about this investigation as there were so many across Northern Ireland that have been affected in some way by these institutions.
“We want to reassure anyone impacted in any way that this investigation is still very much live and ongoing and that we want to hear from them. If you were the victim of abuse or other forms of criminality in any of these institutions, or know somebody who was, or if you witnessed anything suspicious, please contact us.
“We care about what you have to say, will listen and support you, and will act to keep you and others safe.”
A dedicated reporting system is in place to make it easier for people who suffered to come forward. All those who do report will be spoken to by a specialist detective and will be offered the opportunity to have their account recorded so that a criminal investigation can take place. They will also be signposted to further help and support available.
If you wish to contact the dedicated Mother and Baby Institutions, Work Houses and Magdalene Laundries Investigative Team, you can do so via the following options:
Direct line (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm): 028 9090 1728
Officers will deal with any matters reported in a sensitive manner and will, where possible, progress matters through investigation.