Government report warned of illegal adoptions six years ago – Galway TD

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A government report on the Magdalene laundries warned of illegal adoptions and tampering with birth records back in 2012.

Galway West TD Catherine Connolly told the Dáil that the report said urgent investigation was needed to find out if there was any evidence of trafficking children, but that no action was ever taken.

“In respect of the mother and baby home and Bessborough, and in the context of the Magdalene laundry, where information came up the people in charge said that it was beyond their scope.”

In a press conference on May 29, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said that Tusla had identified adoption records for 126 people at St. Patrick’s Guild adoption society which had been falsified.

The only reason those 126 were found was because they had been marked, “adopted from birth”. It’s still unknown how many people are truly affected by this, but the number is certain to be far higher than 126.

The people affected may not even know that their birth records were falsified, or the true circumstances of their birth.

Minister Zappone said that investigations by Tusla will have to be carried out carefully or else risk causing even more damage to families, with people potentially finding out in a phone call that their birth parents aren’t who they think.

According to Deputy Connolly, the only thing about Minister Zappone’s announcement that was shocking to her was how long it took for this to be confronted head on.

“The story has arisen time and again and successive Ministers have either failed or refused to act. I cannot count the number of Ministers involved. There were at least three, but a lot more since the 1950s.”

Speaking on the floor of the Dáil, Deputy Connolly quoted from the report on the Magdalene Laundries led by then-Senator Martin McAleese, which raised strong worries that government employees were involved in trafficking children.

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.

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.

It is more important to send this up to the Minister as soon as possible: with a view to an Inter-Departmental Committee and a fully fledged, fully resourced forensic investigation and State Inquiry.

The McAleese report had particular difficulty gathering data on the Galway Magdalene Laundry, run by the Sisters of Mercy, since so few records survived after it closed in 1984.

But what little information that they were able to gather from Census data and Diocese records found that nearly a third of women in the laundry came from the Tuam Mother and Baby Home.

Marion Reynolds, former deputy director of social services in Northern Ireland, has been appointed as an independent reviewer to analyse records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland for more potential illegal adoptions.

The adoption scandal has also become a topic of inquiry for the ongoing Mother and Baby Homes Commission.

While this story is still unfolding in the public eye the Dáil is also debating the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill which would create a Register of Adoption Contact Enquiries so the Child and Family Agency to help people who have been through adoption services to make contact with birth relatives.