Adoption body reported illegal record in 2002

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) reported at least one case of an illegal birth registration to the DPP and gardaí as far back as 2002.

The revelation comes as the Department of Children has claimed the 126 cases announced at the end of last month “represent the first time” evidence of illegal registrations had been established to a high level of certainty.

It has now emerged the regulatory body for adoption — the AAI — had sufficient evidence of at least one case of illegal registration to warrant reporting it to the DPP and gardaí 16 years ago.

“The authority notified the DPP in 2002 and An Garda Síochána in 2003 of a case of an alleged illegal birth registration,” the AAI said in a statement. “The authority was notified by An Garda Síochána in 2003 that no further action would be taken at that time.”

The AAI confirmed that it has referred other cases to gardaí — usually at the request of individuals contacting the authority.

“In addition, in cases where a specific complaint has been made to the board/authority and at the request of the individual concerned, the authority has advised An Garda Síochána in appropriate circumstances,” it said.

In the Dáil last Thursday, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone said “a validation exercise is under way” with respect to some 140 cases of illegal registrations reported to her department by the AAI. However, she did not say that the vast majority of these cases were uncovered as part of a 2010 audit carried out by the AAI and reported to the department at that time.

The AAI has reported concerns around illegal registrations, including hundreds of cases relating to St Patrick’s Guild, on numerous occasions since then.

In a report prepared for the department in June 2011, the AAI pointed to the need for a more comprehensive audit of the cases it uncovered, but because of the transfer of senior personnel and the “pressure on resources of the imminent establishment of the Adoption Authority no further action was taken”.

In 2015, the Irish Examiner revealed an AAI delegation again told the department, in June 2013, of there being “at least 120 [confirmed] cases” of illegal registrations found as the result of the 2010 audit.

It specifically named St Patrick’s Guild as being “aware of several hundred illegal registrations”, stating the agency is “not seeking the people involved” but rather, “waiting for people to contact” it.

The AAI said this could be the tip of the iceberg and that there “may be thousands” more.

Just five months after the June 2013 meeting, then children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald told the Dáil she “had no plans to initiate an audit of all [adoption] files”.

A 2014 note of a meeting between two nuns from St Patrick’s Guild and representatives of Tusla acknowledged the agency’s records contained “some illegal registrations” and that “full details are available on the majority of cases”.

In response to queries on the subject in 2015, the department repeatedly stated they would be “of very limited benefit” and yield “little useful information”.

Last week, the Irish Examiner revealed that Tusla has raised concerns about a further 748 adoption cases from St Patrick’s Guild which contain evidence of names being changed, cash payments, and other “irregularities”.

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