DPC gets vaccine record alteration complaint

Gardaí have forwarded a complaint for the personal attention of the Data Protection Commissioner that files relating to vaccine trials in Bessborough mother and baby home were altered in 2002.

The complaint was made by Mari Steed after the Irish Examiner revealed in November that the files of mothers and children used in the 1960/61 4-in-1 vaccine trial were altered in 2002 — just weeks after the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse sought discovery of records from the religious order running the home.

Ms Steed was one of the children used in the trial and was subsequently adopted in the US. Her natural mother’s file is one of those listed as having been changed. Gardaí investigating the matter have written to her to say the complaint has been forwarded for the “personal attention” of Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon.

Ms Steed said she felt she had a personal obligation to make a Garda complaint on the matter, She said Tusla, which now holds the records, has “an ethical, moral, and public interest” in contacting all of the people it can confirm were part of a trial.

The Irish Examiner put a series of questions to the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in relation to the document outlining the above changes. The order declined to answer any of them.

A statement from Ruairí Ó Catháin solicitors, representing the order, stated it had “no immediate knowledge of any specific event” concerning alterations made to records.

In a separate statement, the order said it wishes to “categorically state that no documents were altered” and that it will deal with the mother and baby homes commission of investigation on all such matters.


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