Vaccine changes inquiry urged

Adoption groups have called for “a full criminal investigation” into the alteration of files relating to vaccine trials at Bessborough Mother and Baby Home.

Vaccine changes inquiry urged

The Irish Examiner revealed on Tuesday files relating to mothers and children used in the 4-in-1 vaccine trial in 1960/61 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.

Mari Steed, who was one of the children used for the trial and whose mother’s file was altered, has said she plans to make a formal complaint to both the gardaí and the Data Protection Commission.

The Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA) has written to all TDs and senators calling for a response “on this very serious matter”.

“The 1,400 members of ARA’s peer support group are deeply concerned about these alterations, and many are worried that their own files have been subject to such changes,” said ARA co-founder Claire McGettrick. “However, in the absence of information rights, adopted people have no automatic right to access their birth certificates and files, making it extremely difficult for them to ascertain whether or not they were subjected to vaccine trials.”

Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes said the revelations were evidence of the need for a full criminal investigation.

“The latest series of revelations in about the Sacred Heart nuns altering records both historically and recently are further evidence that there must be a full criminal investigation into the entire Order,” he said. “The time for inquiries is over.”

Kathy McMahon of Irish First Mothers called for all adoption-related files to “be fully secured by the State”.

The Irish Examiner put a series of questions to the the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in relation to the document. It declined to answer the specific queries.

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

“We are in contact with the commission in regard to the Mother and Baby Homes Investigation, which is having our full co-operation. For the present, as is appropriate, we will be dealing directly with the commission on all related matters,” said a statement.

In a separate statement, the Order said it wished to “categorically state that no documents were altered”.

“In your recent correspondence, you are suggesting that something illegal or inappropriate had occurred in regard to the documents to which you refer,” said the statement. “This is entirely untrue; and we will continue to deal directly with the official commission on all such matters.”

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