Full trawl of adoption records needed, says Clare Daly

A full trawl of hundreds of thousands of records, rather than a sample exercise, is needed to establish the facts in the illegal adoptions scandal, says Independents4-Change TD Clare Daly.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accepted the revelations could be only the tip of the iceberg and Ms Daly called on him to dispense with the scoping exercise and commit to the full trawl immediately.

“We have been raising it since June 2011, we have a lot of evidence that this is quite a widespread practice. Documents showing altered records at Bessborough have been in the hands of the HSE since 2011. In 2012, a HSE report warned that death certificates at Bessborough may have been altered,” she said.

“Evidence given to the Oireachtas committee showed thousands of Irish people must have been illegally adopted.”

Ms Daly said information has only come to light because of “crusading” reporting by the Irish Examiner’s Conall Ó Fátharta.

“It is a nonsense, the cases I have mentioned are the sampling, the sampling has been done. We have to go to a new stage and delaying this is not good enough when you think of the trauma of the people involved,” she said.

Ms Daly said answers given to her questions to then health minister James Reilly in 2011 have proven to be incorrect.

“We were told there were a small amount of records, whereas now we know there were huge amounts of documentation,” she said.

Old newspaper advertisements from the 1950 and 1960s looking for couples to adopt babies and young children. The advertisements appeared in Dublin and Cork newspapers.

“We know of cases where documents arose accidentally. For years we have been calling for all of those private care homes to be investigated. It is a crime, robbing someone of their identity. There has to be accountability. It is truly horrific”.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said what Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has revealed thus far is just the tip of the iceberg. “[Tuesday’s] revelation accounts for one agency. We estimate that 182 such agencies existed,” she said.

“Whilst initially a sampling exercise might be necessary, a sampling exercise in and of itself will not cut it. Only a complete survey of all adoption files will get to the bottom of this scandal,” said Ms McDonald.

She said Irish society is once again faced with a scandalous mistreatment of citizens, particularly women and children, by the State as we stare face-on into the scandal, not of incorrect registrations but of fraudulent, deliberate mis-registration and illegal adoptions.

“Yesterday, the minister, Deputy Zappone, confirmed what so many previous governments had known for decades. She finally revealed that 126 babies were illegally adopted from St Patrick’s Guild between 1949 and 1969. These babies had their births falsely registered to their adopted parents,” said Ms McDonald.

“They are, as we speak, in the dark as to where they came from.

“At the weekend, we thought that we had finally closed the door on the historic mistreatment of women at the hands of a conservative state and yet today that door is wide open again.”

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