Former resident of Bessborough mother and baby home to sue State and nuns

Former Resident Of Bessborough Mother And Baby Home To Sue State And Nuns
People during a march and candlelit vigil in Dublin prior to publication of the Commissions report. File photo: PA
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Ann O'Loughlin

A former resident of a Cork mother and baby home has initiated a High Court damages action against the State, the HSE and the order of Catholic nuns who ran that facility.

The action has been brought by Caroline Donovan who was a resident of Bessborough House, in Cork on two occasions, once in the mid-1980s and also for a period during the early 1990s.

She says that while a resident of Bessborough, which was located in Blackrock, Cork she was subjected to physical and emotional abuse, which it is claimed amounted to a breach of her constitutional rights.

Commission report

The action is understood to be one of the first brought following the publication earlier this month of the final report by the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.


Represented by solicitor Siobhan O'Neill, and barristers Frank Callanan SC and Conor Duff Bl, Ms Donovan - who is aged in her 50s and is from Tralee in Co Kerry - intends to bring proceedings in a High Court personal injuries claim.

The proceedings will be formally lodged in the coming days.


The parties being sued include the Minister for Health, the HSE and Ireland and the Attorney General and the Congregation of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, which ran the mother and baby home for unmarried mothers.

Ms Donovan claims when she was in Bessborough she was forced to work at the facility, and also had to work for a family in Cork City without any pay and was allegedly subject to harsh and unsafe working practices.

Mother and baby homes report: Main findings
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Ms Donovan also says that a baby girl she gave birth to in the early 1980s was allegedly wrongfully adopted without her consent, and after alleged undue influence was exerted on her.

She says that she became pregnant when she was just 15 years of age. After she gave birth in a Cork hospital to a baby girl, she says her child was taken to Bessborough House and was later adopted.

The home closed in 1999.

The case is expected to come before the courts at a later date.

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