Evidence of illegal birth registrations exists in the records of multiple adoption agencies but a full inquiry into the scale of illegal adoptions would be “onerous” and require “massive resources”.
The revelation is contained in a note of a meeting between representatives of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), Tusla and the Adoption Authority (AAI) held in April.
At the meeting, which was attended by department secretary general Fergal Lynch and was prepared by the DCYA adoption policy unit, there is an acknowledgement that evidence of illegal registrations was not confined to St Patrick’s Guild.
However, it was stressed that a full investigation of these issues would be “onerous, requiring massive resources”.
The confirmation that a full audit of records would quantify the scale of illegalty contained on the records stands in contrast with the department’s publicly stated view for many years.
In response to numerous queries by this newspaper over a number of years, the DCYA has repeatedly stated that an audit of adoption records would be “of very limited benefit” and yield “little useful information”.
Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has said that “a validation exercise is under way” with respect to some 140 cases of illegal registrations reported to her department by the Adoption Authority.
However, the vast majority of these cases were uncovered as part of a 2010 audit carried out by the AAI following the exposé of the Tressa Reeves case by this newspaper. These cases were reported to the department at that time.
The authority has also reported concerns around illegal registrations, including hundreds of cases relating to St Patrick’s Guild to the department 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 Adoption Authority 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”.
Late last month, 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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