Illegal adoption scandal another ‘dark chapter’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the illegal adoption scandal as another ‘dark chapter’ in our history, which needs to be handled with the utmost sensitivity.

He said the Ireland of the past is like a foreign country.

In the Dáil yesterday, he issued a fresh apology to those affected by the illegal adoption cases.

During Leaders’ Questions, he said those affected will be facing into very difficult conversations because of the scandal, exposed by Irish Examiner journalist Conall Ó Fátharta.

“They will be finding out at the age of 49, 50, and 60 that the people they thought for decades were their birth parents were, in fact, not.”


“Parents who brought up children for 50, 60, and 70 years may now have to have that very difficult conversation with the children they brought up that they are not, in fact, their birth parents or even, indeed, their legal parents,” he said.

Mr Ó Fátharta’s work in this newspaper was praised by the Taoiseach in the Dáil and by Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly.

Facing questions from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan over delays to the 2016 Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill, which seeks to give adopted children a statutory right to access records, Mr Varadkar denied it had been sidelined.

“The bill has not stalled. The minister is working on a number of amendments, which are now at committee stage.

“The minister has met opposition and Independent members in the Seanad on many occasions to work through some of the complex issues that arise,” he said.

The Taoiseach said Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone is treating the bill as a priority but that the matters contained in it are complex.

The Dáil heard she is due to brief opposition spokespeople in relation to the scandal in the coming days in a bid to speed up passage of the legislation.

Mr Varadkar reiterated that a sample exercise will now happen to check if any more people are affected by this illegal adoption scandal.

“What will now happen, on the minister’s initiative, is a targeted sampling analysis of the records from the other adoption societies to see whether there is a similar marker or evidence of these illegal registrations. If there is, it will be a requirement to go through over 100,000 records.

“This is potentially a mammoth task, but it will now be done. What people want is not retribution. What they want is information about their identities.”


During a moving contribution, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett revealed he was adopted through St Patrick’s Guild and spoke about the impact the scandal is having on those involved.

He described the revelation as a “bombshell” despite it being known about for more than 20 years.

Mr Boyd Barrett said this scandal typified the “toxic relationship between Church and State”.

In his powerful contribution, Mr Boyd Barrett said that St Patrick’s Guild sought €50,000 from Tusla in 2015 for the transfer of adoption records.

Mr Varadkar also told the Dáil that Tusla has handed over 10 sample cases to An Garda Síochána in relation to the illegal adoption scandal.

Tusla has informed the Commission of Inquiry about the illegal adoption cases identified, the Taoiseach also said.

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